EUROLEAGUE AWAITS COTA, PHELPS
* With the opening of Euroleague Basketball, Europe's highest level of competition, scheduled for next week, the official website at euroleague.net recently added team previews for the clubs that former Tar Heels Ed Cota and Derrick Phelps will represent in Euroleague competition. Here's an edited and condensed version from those team previews:
GHP Bamberg (Germany): "The new German League champions decided to keep the great majority of its team together. Bamberg has been hurt by preseason injuries to the likes of guard Steffen Hamann, shooter Hurl Beechum (Iowa State) and center Mike Nahar, but an old friend, Derrick Phelps, has arrived to help, as have newcomers Robert Garrett and Tim Begley (Penn).
The arrival of Phelps should make one of the team's few adjustments smooth, since he began his career in Bamberg and also brings Euroleague experience as a scorer and team leader. Tim Begley comes in as a versatile rookie capable of playing any perimeter position while putting up points, rebounds and assists."
Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania): "A couple key off-season acquisitions should help Zalgiris challenge the continent's best again. Point guard Ed Cota, a former Euroleague assist leader with Zalgiris, returns after a season away (in Russia) from Kaunas, Lithuania. Cota will find a fine fastbreak partner in Reggie Freeman (Texas) and can count on a running game with All-Euroleague second-team center Tanoka Beard (Boise State) providing a consistent rebounding advantage.
The return of Cota to take care of the ball could be the pivotal development for Zalgiris. Cota, an assists leader wherever he has played, directed the team for two seasons, one that culminated in near-qualification for the 2004 Final Four. Cota can run with Freeman, a left-handed swingman who is as dangerous on defense as offense, one of the best slashers around, but his ability to score off steals is even more impressive.
Zalgiris offers a nice combination of experience and youth. With living legend Arvydas Sabonis as team president to inspire them, Zalgiris is sure to shoot for the Top 16 and beyond in 2005-06. A trip back to the Top 16 is the least that this team expects of itself."
Dante Calabria (Armani Jeans Milano, Italy), Vasco Evtimov (Union Olimpija, Slovenia) and Shammond Williams (Winterthur F.C. Barcelona, Spain) are also Euroleague participants this season and had team previews featured in a previous edition of Tar Heel Pros News & Notes.
MANUEL TO BEGIN IN FAYETTVILLE
* The Fayetteville Patriots of the National Basketball Association Development League – the NBA's official minor league also known as the NBADL and the D-League – have been allocated recent Tar Heel grad Jackie Manuel from the league's pool of players. Taron Downey, a guard from Wake Forest, has also been assigned to the Fayetteville franchise by the league. Each D-League team has two players allocated to them prior to the league draft on November 3.
Manuel, a rangy 6-5 guard and All-ACC defender, suffered a fractured ankle at the NBA Predraft Camp in Chicago that sidelined him the rest of the summer.
"It's an opportunity for me to be able to stay close to home where I can work out in Chapel Hill and be close to the people I love," Manuel told The Fayetteville Observer recently. "I think Fayetteville is going to be a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills, and it's an opportunity for me to learn by playing against NBA-caliber guys."
Manuel, who averaged 6.2 points during his UNC career, is looking to work on his offensive skills with the Patriots. "I'm really going to concentrate on getting stronger physically and on my shot," Manuel said, accordng to The Observer report. "I think those are things I have to do to get to that next level."
Patriots coach Mike Brown was excited to have two successful college players placed on his roster. "Both are proven winners from big-time college programs," Brown said. "The D-League is filled with ones, twos and threes, but any good player will tell you he's just looking for a chance to compete and they'll definitely have that chance to showcase themselves."
The Patriots open the season with a home game on November 19 at the Crown Coliseum against the Fort Worth Flyers.
D. WILLIAMS TO SPAIN; SCOTT BACK HOME: TEASLEY TO HUNGARY
* Donald Williams signed with Melilla Baloncesto of Spain's second-division league, the LEB. Melilla began the season 0-5 and will look for Williams to spark the offense.
Williams, 32, began his 11th pro season on Sunday, his first in Spain, with 16 points (6-14 FG, 4-7 3-pt. FG) in 23 minutes as Melilla lost 81-56 and dropped to 0-6. Former Duke Blue Devil Greg Newton also plays for Melilla Baloncesto (31 minutes, five points, five boards).
* "Melvin Scott departed for the USA this morning, as his one-month contract with ARIS reached its end," the Greek basketball club ARIS Thessaloniki announced last Thursday on the team website (arisbc.gr).
Scott was added to the team in September on a 30-day contract after an injury to guard Corey Brewer (Oklahoma '98) during training camp making him unavailable for practice and exhibition games. Brewer is recovered now and scored 22 points in a victory in the Greek League season opener yesterday. Scott is now back on the open market after getting a brief sample of pro basketball abroad.
* Another overseas Tar Heel transaction involves Nikki Teasley ('02). Following her 2005 season in the WNBA with the L.A. Sparks, Teasley signed with a pro team in Hungary and now the former Tar Heel star is the top player for MKB-Euroleasing in Sopron, Hungary.
Teasley has previously played in pro leagues in Russia and South Korea in addition to four years in the WNBA with Los Angeles.
JORDAN APPEARS ON "60 MINUTES"
* With his new book, Driven from Within, due to be released today, basketball legend Michael Jordan started promoting the book with an appearance on "60 Minutes" last night.
During the interview, Jordan discussed his noted high-stakes gambling experiences saying he knows he has crossed the line to the point of being "stupid" at times, but never thought he was a compulsive gambler or jeopardized his livelihood or his family.
"Yeah, I've gotten myself into situations where I would not walk away, and I've pushed the envelope," Jordan told CBS correspondent Ed Bradley.
Jordan, 42, pointed out it was the same fierce competitiveness that helped make him a basketball superstar that also caused him problems when gambling. "I want to go out on a limb and win, and sometimes that can take you past the stage where you know you should probably take a step back from," he said. "It's very embarrassing, one of the things you totally regret. So you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I was stupid,' which I did," Jordan stated.
When he was asked about critics who expected him to be more political and outspoken, like other African-American athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson, Jordan told Bradley, "It's heavy duty to try to do everything and please everybody. My job was to go out there and play the game of basketball as best I can. People may not agree with that. I can't live with what everyone's impression of what I should or what I shouldn't do."
Jordan remembers the teachers, mentors and friends who molded his life in Driven from Within, written by Michael Jordan with Tinker Hatfield and published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, is due in book stores this week.
GIVEAWAYS TO FEATURE FELTON & MAY
* The Charlotte Bobcats got North Carolina Tar Heel fans interest when they selected UNC's Sean May and Raymond Felton in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.
The franchise is now looking to fill up the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena that opens for basketball on November 5 with a game against Boston. That will be followed by home games on November 7 (Utah), 9 (San Antonio) and 11 (Dallas). The Bobcats' second season starts on the road at Chicago on November 2 and at Philadelphia on November 4.
May and Felton have already been featured prominently in promotional displays at the team's website. They will also be showcased during the season in upcoming giveaways designed to attract fans to attend games and come away with a free souvenir.
On January 13 (Friday) against the Milwaukee Bucks the first 5,000 fans in attendance get a Sean May bobblehead figure for the first 5,000 fans in attendance.
A Sean May jersey is the featured item on January 30 (Monday) against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first 5,000 fans.
There will be a bobblehead figure of Raymond Felton given to the first 5,000 fans that attend the game on February 10 (Friday) against the Toronto Raptors.
Go to nba.com for the complete promotional giveaway calendar.