Our Foreign Correspondent, Hippo Taatila, provides us with an update on our friends in Europe.
Virtus Bologna's Petteri Koponen (6-4", 200, '88) had a remarkable game last weekend in Italian cup quarterfinals. With Virtus starting point guard Giuseppe Poeta out, Koponen played 39 minutes against strong Olimpia Milano team and had a field day with 23 points (fg 9-17 ft 1-2), eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. Despite Koponen's heroics and some late game clutch shots, Milano took the win 82-77 behind stable play by J.R. Bremer, Antonis Fotsis and Ioannis Bourousis.
Koponen's Virtus Bologna started Serie A season in Italy slowly, but are currently third in the league right after Euroleague powerhouses Montepaschi Siena and Olimpia Milano. Koponen has been primarily playing shooting guard this season and has been averaging 13,2 points, 3,3 rebounds, 2,6 assists and 1,0 steals a game. Other notable names of Virtus Bologna team are former NBA forward Chris Douglas-Roberts and San Antonio Spurs draft pick Viktor Sanikidze, team leader in points and rebounds.
Meanwhile in Greece, Panathinaikos Athens' point guard Nick Calathes (6-6", 195, '89) has been going to work. Panathinaikos is second in Greek A1 Ethniki League right after Olympiakos Piraeus. Calathes has been averaging 21,3 minutes a game in a stacked Panathinaikos team to go with 7,7 points, 2,8 assists, 2,5 rebounds and 1,5 steals.
In Euroleague competition, Panathinaikos has steamrolled their way into Top 16 and are splitting the top position of Group G with Russian team Unics Kazan. Calathes has been a key factor in Euroleague as well, averaging 8,4 points, 2,9 assists, 2,2 rebounds and 1,4 steals in 22,6 minutes a game.
Calathes' best known teammates are Mike Batiste, David Logan, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Romain Sato and Dimitris Diamantidis, so he's in a high company.
Last Summer, Koponen and Calathes both played with their national teams in Eurobasket 2011. Koponen and Finnish national team finished 9th, Calathes and Greek national team ended up 6th. Calathes and Greece beat Koponen and Finland in the opening round 81-61 (41-32): Koponen had 21 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while Calathes finished 6 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the game.