COTA WINS EURO CROWN
* In his fourth season overseas, Ed Cota has now been the point guard on four championship teams. The latest happened last week at the FIBA Europe League Final Four in Istanbul, Turkey. Cota's Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia) team finished a perfect run through FIBA's Europe League of 20-0 leading to a traditional celebration with champagne, confetti and cutting down the nets.
In the semifinal win over Russian Superleague rival BC Khimki of the Moscow Region on Wednesday, Cota, the team captain, scored 15 points and handed out eight assists in the 92-81 victory. "With a 67-66 lead, Cota scored and was fouled. The former North Carolina Tar Heel converted the three-point play for a four-point edge," reported fibaeurope.com.
Cota was fouled again and made two free throws to push the lead even further in what had been a tense battle. Serbian center Oggi Askrabic was sensational for Dynamo with 28 points (12-16 FG, 4-8 FT), 11 rebounds and six assists.
The opponent in Thursday's championship game was BC Kyiv, the top team of Ukraine. Dynamo took an early lead and was in command, but with 1:17 left in the game Kyiv battled back to an 80-74 deficit following LaMarr Greer's (Florida State) layup.
After a timeout, Cota hit a three-pointer with 1:04 remaining for an 83-74 St. Petersburg lead to put the game, the title and the perfect 20-0 season away. With a final score of 85-74, Cota had 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in 39 minutes. Kelly McCarty (Southern Mississippi) led Dynamo with 24 points and was named the MVP.
"McCarty is a real leader. Although, in my view, Cota was also worthy of the MVP title. Both players always do what is best for the team, but do not play for the personal statistics," responded Dynamo SPb coach David Blatt, when asked about FIBA's choice of small forward McCarty as the game's Most Valuable Player, according to Soviet Express.
Jon Stefansson (Iceland) and Vladimir Veremeenko (Belarus) were also outstanding players for the first-year team from St. Petersburg, Russia that was born on July 15, 2004, but came up with a winning formula that often takes a franchise years to get right. Dynamo's hiring of Massachusetts native David Blatt, a former Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) coach known for his excellent coaching and recruiting ability, is considered a major factor in the immediate success of this expansion team that has been described as rich and ambitious in the European press.
Cota previously won a domestic title in Oostende, Belgium and ended the last two seasons in Kaunas, Lithuania as a league champion. The FIBA Europe League title, a less prestigious honor in European basketball than being ULEB's Euroleague winner, is Cota's first championship in a European club competition.
The European title has now been accomplished, but another assignment awaits -- the Russian Superleague playoffs. The first series for Cota and St. Petersburg (15-9) begins on Thursday against BC Khimki Moscow Region (16-8).
FOX STARS ON UPN TV SHOW
* Last week, former Tar Heel and current actor Rick Fox appeared as a guest star on the TV show "Kevin Hill," a UPN drama series. Fox played "a charming and handsome ex-con" on the television show as a client and love interest of series regular Michael Michele, of "ER" fame.
"Kevin Hill," on UPN Wednesdays at 9 p.m., has three original episodes on the schedule to be aired during the May sweeps period. Fox, now retired from the NBA, will also guest star on the program's final show along with Idina Menzel ("Wicked") and Wayne Brady, according to a recent UPN press release. The season finale will be on May 18.
Variety reported last week that Fox has signed with Brillstein-Grey Entertainment for career management and that he is currently working on a movie called "Mimi's First Time," with noted actors Alec Baldwin and Luke Wilson.
McCANTS SIGNS WITH EXCEL
Rashad McCants has joined up with California agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, and plans to be on the West Coast soon to begin working out to improve his stock for the upcoming NBA draft, according to his mother (Brenda Muckelvene), The Durham Herald-Sun reported.
Excel Sports Management also represents NBA players Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce and Emeka Okafor.
The Herald-Sun also noted that, Marvin Williams Sr., the father of North Carolina freshman Marvin Williams, said his son's agent search is down to two candidates.
Marvin Jr. intends to return to Bremerton, Wash. after exams end May 7. "If [Marvin] can do his training in Seattle, he'd rather do it there," Williams Sr. said, according to the article. "He'd like to spend some time with his mom."
* Joy Hairston (23) and Marcus Ginyard (18) will celebrate birthdays on Sunday, May 8. Look for the rest of May's Tar Heel birthdays next week.