HEELS REUNITED IN CYPRUS
* Prior to last week, the last time Ed Cota and Shammond Williams played on the same team was on March 28, 1998 in North Carolina's loss to Utah in the NCAA national semifinal in the Alamodome. Last Thursday, the former Tar Heel backcourt tandem joined forces again as teammates at the FIBA Europe League 2005 All-Star Game in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Cota and Williams, both import players in Russia now, were the starting guards for "The Rest of the World" entry against FIBA E.L.'s best European players.
"The Rest of the World" controlled the game until Europe staged a comeback in the last five minutes. It took an MVP effort by Shammond Williams to hold off Europe for a 106-102 victory.
Williams had a role in his team's last 11 points. He scored eight and assisted on a three-point basket, according to the fibaeurope.com game report.
"[Williams] then found [Ruben] Wolkowysky (from Argentina) for an open 3 to extend the gap to six points, 101-95. Williams sealed their fate on the next play. Following a steal, Williams found himself all alone with the basket at his mercy. The 188 cm (6-2) [guard] finished in style, and his reverse double-pump jam finished Europe off with a flourish," noted the game report.
"We did a great job as a team and we really jelled," Williams said, according to fibaeurope.com. "It doesn't matter who the MVP is or how many points anybody scores. We came here to win and that's what we did."
Williams took the All-Star event's MVP honors with 20 points (7-10 FG, 3-4 3-pt. FG, 3-4 FT), six assists and five boards in 30 minutes. Cota chipped in with eight points (4-6 FG) and seven assists in 23 minutes.
FORTE LEADS ASHEVILLE TO TITLE GAME
* Joseph Forte led the Asheville Altitude's balanced attack with 16 points (4-9 FG, 8-9 FT) in a 90-86 win over Huntsville in the NBDL's Champion Tournament semifinal game on Saturday. In the final minutes, Forte came through with a steal that was followed by a dunk, and also added two free throws that put the game away.
The victory sends Asheville (28-21) to Columbus (31-18) on Saturday (4/23, 7 p.m. EDT) to play for the NBDL championship. The game will be telecast on tape-delay by NBA-TV on April 25 at 4 p.m. EDT.
During the 2004-05 NBDL regular season, Forte started six of the 39 games he played for Asheville with per game averages of 11.9 points, 22.6 minutes, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists, with season highs of 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
DETROIT PICKS BELL; SMITH-TAYLOR TO MYSTICS
* North Carolina senior Nikita Bell was selected by the Detroit Shock with the 20th overall selection in the WNBA Draft on Saturday.
"I think Detroit, Kara Braxton (Georgia) was huge, and then Nikita Bell - she's such a strong athlete," said ESPN analyst Ann Meyers to wnba.com when asked which team had the best draft.
* The WNBA's Washington Mystics announced the signing of former Tar Heel star and current assistant coach Charlotte Smith-Taylor ('95) last week.
Smith-Taylor spent the last six seasons in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting. In 2004, she started every game for the Sting and had career highs in several categories such as minutes per game (28.7), points per game (8.2), and rebounds per game (4.1). Smith-Taylor also led the league in three-point field goal percentage (50%).