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Americans Winning Titles Abroad, 2013 Edition

As all European basketball leagues have ended their 2012-13 season, RealGM has traditionally checked on how many American players were involved in the celebrations this year.

RealGM has counted for the third consecutive year, 107 players from the U.S. became champions in 45 European national leagues.

Maccabi Haifa, champions of Israel, was ‘the most American’ champion team with six players from the U.S. on their roster.

In contrast, Kamza Basket (Albania), KB Peja (Kosovo), Donbasket Donduseni (Moldova), Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) and Edinburgh Kings (Scotland) won titles without American players on their rosters.

Partizan was the only Euroleague team to win national competition without receiving help from the U.S. 

RealGM presents the European national leagues champions list, where you can find all 107 players names (top-five European national competitions are bolded).

Country

Champion team

American players

Albania

Kamza Basket

No American players

Austria

Vienna

Ian Boylan (CS Northridge)

Shawn Ray (North Carolina Central)

Maurice Pearson (Georgetown College)

Jean Francois (Georgia South)

Belarus

Tsmoki Minsk

Tierre Brown (McNeese State)

Belgium

Oostende

Sean Singletary (Virginia)

Thomas De Thaey (North Carolina State)

Matt Lojeski (Hawaii)

Brent Wright (Florida)

Wesley Wilkinson (Nebraska)

Bosnia

Igokea Aleksandrovac

Clifford Hammonds (Clemson)

Corsley Edwards (C. Connecticut State)

Bulgaria

Lukoil Academik Sofia

Darryl Watkins (Syracuse)

Brandon Heath (San Diego State)

Croatia

Cibona Zagreb

D.J. Strawberry (Maryland)

Jerel Blassingame (UNLV)

Cyprus

AEK Larnaca

Dion Dixon (Cincinnati)

Charron Fisher (Niagara)

Ken Tutt (ORU)

Michael Harrison (Colorado State)

Czech Republic

CEZ Nymburk

Andrew Naymick (Michigan State)

Tweety Carter (Baylor)

Denmark

Bakken Bears

Charles Parker (Millersville)

Estonia

Kalev-Cramo Tallinn

Ty Abbott (Arizona State)

Gary Wilkinson (Utah State)

Keith McLeod (Bowling Green)

Finland

Nilan Bisons

Ryan McDade (Northern Arizona)

Martin Zeno (Texas Tech)

Jeb Ivey (Portland State)

France

JSF Nanterre

David Lighty (Ohio State)

Trenton Meacham (Illinois)

Charles Jackson (Hawaii Pacific)

Chris Warren (Mississippi)

Georgia

MIA Academy Tbilisi

Benjamin Raymond (Xavier)

Deonta Vaughn (Cincinnati)

Kirk Archibeque (Fort Lewis)

Chad Prewitt (Arizona State)

Germany

Brose Baskets Bamberg

Casey Jacobsen (Stanford)

Alex Renfroe (Belmont)

Matt Walsh (Florida)

Sharrod Ford (Clemson)

John Goldsberry (NC-Wilmington)

Greece

Panathinaikos Athens

James Gist (Maryland)

Ramel Curry (CSU Bakersfield)

R.T. Guinn (Baylor)

Holland

ZZ Leiden

Sean Cunningham (UC Riverside)

Michael Schachtner (Green Bay)

Antoine Young (Creighton)

Hungary

Alba Fehervar

Brandon Wood (Michigan State)

Damian Hollis (George Washington)

Ronald Moore (Siena)

Jarrod Jones (Ball State)

Iceland

Grindavik

Ryan Pettinella (Virginia)

Sammy Zeglinski (Virginia)

Aaron Broussard (Seattle)

Ireland

UCC Demons Cork

Kenton Walker (Creighton)

Israel

Maccabi Haifa

Paul Stoll (Texas-Pan American)

Donta Smith (Southeastern Illinois)

Pat Calathes (Saint Joseph’s)

James Thomas (Texas)

Corry Carr (Texas Tech)

Bryan Cohen (Bucknell)

Italy

Montepaschi Siena

Bobby Brown (CS Fullertone)

David Moss (Indiana State)

Matt Janning (Northeastern)

Dionte Christmas (Temple) 

Kosovo

KB Peja

No American players

Latvia

VEF Riga

Earl Rowland (Saint Mary's)

Will Daniels (Rhode Island)

Lithuania

Zalgiris Kaunas

Donnie McGrath (Providence)

Oliver Lafayette (Houston)

Jeff Foote (Cornell)

Luxembourg

T71 Dudelange

Ryan Sharry (Middlebury)

Denell Stephens (Slippery Rock)

Macedonia

MZT Scopje

Cade Davis (Oklahoma)

Malta

Floriana

Matt Glass (Massachusetts)

Moldova

Donbasket Donduseni

No American players

Montenegro

Buducnost Podgorica

Dee Bost (Mississippi State)

Norway

Baerum Basket

Ryan Ferranti (Rollins)

Lionel Green (SUNO)

Torgrim Sommerfeldt (Manhattan)

Poland

Stelmet Zielona Gora

Quinton Hosley (Fresno State)

Portugal

Benfica Lisboa

Ricky Franklin (Wisconsim - Milwaukee)

Frederick Gentry (McNeese State)

LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor)

Heshimu Evans (Kentucky)

Romania

CSU Asesoft Ploiesti

Alhaji Mohammed (Louisville)

Robert Nyakundi (SMU)

Russia

CSKA Moscow

Sonny Weems (Arkansas)

Aaron Jackson (Duquense)

Scotland

Edinburgh Kings

No American players

Serbia

Partizan Belgrade

No American players

Slovakia

Inter Bratislava

Alando Tucket (Wisconsin)

Justin Graham (San Jose State)

Marlon Garnett (Santa Clara)

Slovenia

Krka Novo Mesto

Jerime Anderson (UCLA)

Spain

Real Madrid

Marcus Slaughter (San Diego State)

Tremmell Darden (Niagara)

Jaycee Carroll (Utah State)

Dontaye Draper (Charleston) 

Sweden

Sodertalje BBK

Kenneth Simms (Cumberland)

John Roberson (Texas Tech)

Switzerland

Geneve Lions

Kelvin Parker (NW Missouri State)

Juwann James (JMU)

Tony Brown (Arkansas State)

Turkey

Galatasaray Istanbul

Jamont Gordon (Mississippi State)

Ersin Dagli (Alabama)

Ukraine

Budivelnyk Kyiv

Malcom Delaney (Virginia Tech)

Leo Lyons (Missouri)

United Kingdom

Leicester Riders

Zaire Taylor (Missouri)

Jay Couisnard (UMKC)

Malcolm Thomas Remains Undeterred

Throughout Malcolm Thomas’ life, disappointments always seem to follow him at every juncture. Some professional and others personal, his journey has consisted of obstacles, and the latest one this offseason was faced and overcome with the same persistence: Continued hard work and perseverance.

Many across the NBA have been shocked that Thomas was not able to capture the guaranteed contract he looked so poised to land amid spectacular Summer League appearances with the Chicago Bulls in July. He impressed observers in Las Vegas, scoring 11.4 points and grabbing 12.4 rebounds per game. Within the league, some remain perplexed that the Bulls passed up an intriguing talent in Thomas for journeymen such as 31-year-old Vladimir Radmanovic. Thomas also put forth strong workouts for the New York Knicks and Miami Heat as both organizations watched him participate in five-on-five games, but neither team was willing to offer him guaranteed money. Now, he is headed to Israel on Wednesday, set to play for European powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“When I didn’t get a deal, it was kind of disappointing,” Thomas told RealGM in a phone interview on Tuesday night. “But then it [also] wasn’t because I still got the deal with Maccabi and they’re still a first-class organization.”

Playing – and possibly excelling – on a top-tier EuroLeague club will allow Thomas to continue to showcase his game in a league where NBA executives are often scouring for talent. He is articulate, astute, and has sharp maturity at just 23 years old. And between the lack of a deal with the Bulls and his workouts for the Knicks and Heat, Thomas had reached agreement in principle on a lucrative deal with Dongguan of the Chinese Basketball Association. The contract broke apart, however, and it made for yet another letdown for Thomas.

“Anybody that knows me knows that I’ve had a lot of disappointments in my life,” Thomas said. “I’ve had a lot of things that were supposed to happen that didn’t happen. So when [the deal with Dongguan] didn’t happen, I was upset but it’s kind of what I’m used to. My way of reacting to it is just working harder and being better.”

With his NBA career forged out of the San Antonio Spurs’ highly respected franchise, Thomas credits Gregg Popovich and everyone else within the organization – from its front office to assistant coaches to players – for showing him the ropes as a rookie last season. He played only three games with the Spurs, but their nurturing program quickly rubbed off on his mental and physical makeup.

“The Spurs are very professional in everything that they do,” Thomas said. “As a young player coming in, they [taught] me how to be a professional on and off the court. From the head coach to the last player on the bench, they all had the same amount of professionalism.

“Coming [into the NBA], I felt like I had to learn how to be a professional, and they taught me that. They taught me how to approach practice, the post [game] and everything. It was a great experience for me and I’m glad it happened.”

After an even more fulfilling summer, Thomas had been confident he would sign with an NBA team. Someway, somehow, he was sure there was a team out there that needed an active, polished forward. Yet, en route to being named to the Summer League All-Star team, Thomas admits he never really played with a potential contract in mind. Instead, he was focused on simply proving an important facet to himself – showing that he belonged.

“I wasn’t playing to get signed,” he said, “I was just playing to show everybody that I can play at that level because I know I work hard enough.”

Even so, Thomas’ skills not only stood out to scouts across the league, but also his Bulls teammates.

“Malcolm is a hell of a player, very active,” Jimmy Butler told RealGM on Monday during media day. “I know he’ll be over in this league [soon]. He’s just got to keep grinding, keep working, and never give up on his dream.”

Thomas’ NBA aspirations are still upbeat, but it’s unmistakable that he is excited about the opportunity to play overseas. This will provide another challenge for him to meet, and he’ll have immense support: His plan is to bring along family members to Israel, as well as his high school coach whom he praises for guidance during Summer League and for giving mentorship on and off the court.

Most of all, Thomas vows that his latest disappointment will just make him better, and in hindsight, he believes his free agency experience will be a stepping stone moving forward and will forever leave him more driven to prove he belongs at the highest of levels

“This process has made me a lot more hungry,” Thomas said. “I’m so, so eager to get to Israel now and just show them that I can play at their level and any other type of level. It just added to the chip that was already on my shoulder.

“Either way, it worked out for me. As long as I can play basketball, that’s really all that matters. And if the [NBA] wants me in a year from now, I’ll be there in a year from now.”

Preseason Euroleague Power Rankings

The 2012-13 Euroleague regular season will begin on October 19th and here are RealGM's preseason power rankings.

1. CSKA Moscow (Russia)

The absence of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved will definitely be felt, but the return of head coach Ettore Messina and the acquisition of one of the best Euroleague rookies of 2011-12 season, Sonny Weems, maintains CSKA as the most talented team in Euroleague. Also, it's going to be the second season in Russia for Serbians Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic, who together with Weems should lead CSKA to the Final Four.

2. FC Barcelona Regal (Spain)

FC Barcelona Regal clearly suffered some serious losses this offseason as one of the most versatile Euroleague players, Chuck Eidson, left for Unics and two big men moved south to Unicaja Malaga. Barcelona didn’t shock the market by making huge signings, but that’s what their front office usually does. The Catalonians managed to re-sign RealGM’s last season’s All-Euroleague 1st Team member Erazem Lorbek, who together with elite point guard Marcelinho Huertas, healthy Juan Carlos Navarro and Olympic surprise Joe Ingles might help FC Barcelona Regal make another Final Four appearance.

3. Real Madrid (Spain)

Real’s time has finally come. It has been 18 years since Real won its last Euroleague title and this year Pablo Laso’s team has the best chance they have had in years. This season’s Real is very versatile, having the pieces to go all the way to the top. They are both young and experienced, explosive and dangerous, which by adding Rudy Fernandez this offseason might become unstoppable in every league they’ll compete in the 12-13 season.

4. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey)

It seems that Montepaschi Siena was relocated to Turkey and that’s good news for Fenerbahce Ulker fans. Fenerbahce Ulker managers opened their pockets to bring former Montepaschi players David Andersen, Romain Sato, Bo McCalebb and coach Simone Pianigiani. These pieces have experience together, therefore Fenerbahce Ulker should find a winning path straight away. Everybody in Europe knows that McCalebb, who signed a three-year deal with the Turkish team, is a game changer and a Euroleague Final Four is probably not so far away for Fenerbahce Ulker.

5. Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece)

After a stunning performance in last season’s Final Four, current Euroleague champion Olympiacos is no longer an underdog. Every team will treat Olympiacos as a champion and the expectations for the Greeks will be sky high. Despite the departure of head coach Dusan Ivkovic, Olympiacos managed to maintain the core of the team and especially the key Greek players from the last season  - Vassilis Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou, and American Kyle Hines.

6. Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Maccabi is clearly not the same dominant team as it was in 2004 or 2005, but they are one of only few who remained elite for years and are always among top candidates to claim the title. Before the start of the season, Maccabi doesn’t seem to be at the same line with Europe’s best (CSKA and FC Barcelona Regal), but David Blatt and his players are capable of beating the odds and making a long run in this year’s Euroleague.

7. Unicaja Malaga (Spain)

Unicaja has been struggling for years in the Euroleague tournament but there are signs that the dark days for Malaga basketball might be over. Unicaja, which won only five out of 24 games in the Top 16 in last four years, had to say goodbye to its team face Joel Freeland and 11 other players and build a new team from the ground up. Luka Zoric, Fran Vazquez and Kosta Perovic will form one of the best frontcourts in the league, which will be the key strength of Unicaja.

8. Montepaschi Siena (Italy)

Life after Bo McCalebb won’t be easy and Montepaschi is about to experience that. Montepaschi completely changed its team by almost completely turning over its roster and starting a new page. Montepaschi managers had to say goodbye to Siena’s biggest stars and its leader McCalebb, who had been Montepaschi’s key player since 2010. As other teams’ experience shows, it takes years to build a winning Euroleague team, therefore patience might be an essential thing for this year’s Montepaschi.

9. EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy)

After years of disappointments, EA7 Emporio Armani was finally very close to making the Top 8 last season and this year’s team looks even more impressive. It seems the managers of Olimpia Milano did their best on bringing an elite player, such as Keith Langford, and missing pieces like Gianluca Basile and Richard Hendrix. EA7 Emporio Armani hasn’t looked this strong for many years and this might be the best chance for Sergio Scariolo and his guys to break their team's curse of Euroleague.

10. Panathinaikos Athens (Greece)

The post-Obradovic era begins. Nine new players and more to come as Panathinaikos was completely rebuilt this offseason. The wind of changes came when eight-time Euroleague champion Zeljko Obradovic, who coached Panathinaikos since 1999, stepped down and 11 players left the team as well. One of two players who stayed in Athens, Dimitris Diamantidis and new coach Argyris Pedoulakis is in a very difficult position as it might take more than a season to build a strong relationship between players and bring Panathinaikos back on the winning path.

11. Caja Laboral Vitoria (Spain)

The biggest upset of the last season, Caja Laboral do not have any reasons to be very optimistic about this year as well. Two key players, Euroleague leading points per game scorer Mirza Teletovic and team assist leadser Pablo Prigioni left the Spanish organization for the NBA and Caja Laboral struggles to find a proper replacement. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see group C’s Caja Laboral missing Top 16 for the second straight season.

12. Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)

Similar to last season, Zalgiris formed a solid roster for the Euroleague tournament and seems to be a Top 8 team on paper. But Zalgiris fans know the best that it's way too early to celebrate and there's nothing to be excited about before the Top 16 starts. Statistics don't lie: over the last nine years, Zalgiris won only seven and lost 35 games in the Top 16 stage. Despite how good Zalgiris' roster seemed to be, Kaunas won just four matches in Top 16 since 2004 and holds an awful 4-32 record.

13. Khimki Moscow region

Eurocup winner Khimki formed its team the earliest among all Euroleague clubs and signed all players even before the beginning of the summer. Khimki didn’t spend as much money as they did in the past, but Rimas Kurtinaitis’ team should repeat their success in 2009-10 and make it out of the group with the talent they have.

14. Anadolu Efes Istanbul

‘Born to lose’ are the first three words, which came to my mind when I hear the name Anadolu Efes Istanbul. It didn’t matter how many top European players Istanbul had on its roster, they have always failed to meet expectations. The main reason is that chemistry is something money can’t buy. However, Anadolu Efes will have another shot to make a long run this season, as they’ll have future MVP candidate Jordan Farmar on their side and many other individually great players. As always.

15. Besiktas Istanbul (Turkey)

No doubt, last season was amazing for Besiktas and their fans as Istanbul club won three titles - Turkish league, Turkish Cup and EuroChallenge (the third best European competition). It was simply the gold age for the Turkish team, but this year’s Besiktas will be different as day and night. The whole starting five left the club and that doesn’t mean anything good for Besiktas.

16. Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia)

It’s not a secret that the last two seasons weren’t the best for Croatian basketball, but it seems Cedevita is here to change the things. Definitely, Cedevita wasn’t the luckiest club on the Euroleague draw day as they would probably like to be anywhere but in group C. However, the Croatian team’s managers did nice work this offseason by building a versatile team with few well-known names, who are good enough to shake things up make a mess in group C.

17. Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany)

Brose Baskets proved that German basketball can compete with the Europe’s best clubs and last season was just one step away from making to the Top 16. During the offseason, Brose Baskets lost some very important pieces and is going to be quite a challenge for Chris Fleming to build a winning team with the guys he has now.

18. Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

As usual, Partizan will be a team to watch this season. The Serbian club will have many well-known talents on its roster. Davis Bertans, Dejan Musli, Leo Westermann, Bogdan Bogdanovic have proved themselves in youth tournaments and now it’s time to demonstrate their capabilities on the big scene. Moreover, coach Dusko Vujosevic, who led Partizan to the Final four in 09-10, is back in Belgrade. The 24-year-old Marko Cakarevic is currently the oldest player on the team, but it is surely going to be fun to watch how talented and hungry Partizan will try to find its way out of the group D.

19. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania)

One of the two best Lithuanian teams, Lietuvos Rytas is known for signing less-known players and making the most out of them. This season is going to be a no exception as Lietuvos Rytas lost its biggest star, Jonas Valanciunas, and didn't add any elite players to its squad. Even with the roster as it is now, Lietuvos Rytas, is capable of making it out of the group but might lack talent to shake things up in the Top 16.

20. Alba Berlin (Germany)

It’s been a while since Alba won its last title and it seems the hype from making to the Euroleague Top 16 in 08-09 disappeared. Even after being  awful last season, Alba got a chance to play in the Euroleague, where their chances are really limited. Nevertheless, everything is possible in group B for Alba, especially with the support they’ll have at home games.

21. Elan Chalon (France)

French teams has always been like tourists in the Euroleague and Elan Chalon will probably be no exception. On the other hand, Elan Chalon made one of the most interesting signings this offseason in six-year NBA veteran Shelden Williams. Of course, it would be a no-braner to believe Williams could carry Elan Chalon on his back to the Top 16 stage, but he could make some serious problems for group D underdogs, Asseco Prokom and Alba.

22. Asseco Prokom Gdynia (Poland)

The previous two seasons were horrible for Asseco Prokom and it seems that the Polish team is heading for a third one. New head coach Kestutis Kemzuras will have a very difficult task to build a winning team from very average players. Also, Asseco Prokom will be missing its biggest star, Donatas Motiejunas, who moved to Houston Rockets, and for now, there’s no such player, who could replace Motiejunas and become a leader of the team.

23. Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Last season’s worst team, Union Olimpija, didn’t do much this offseason to avoid the same situation this year. Ljubljana’s team lost all its best players and the new additions look more like a lottery than a promising future. It seems that Union Olimpija don’t have financial problems anymore and that might be club’s biggest victory of the offseason.

Americans Winning Titles In Europe

There were 107 American-born players who were on teams that won their league in Europe during the 11-12 season, most notably Montepasch Siena.
 

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