Zalgiris Kaunas appear to have acquired a new star signing, despite the top Lithuanian basketball club claiming otherwise. Last week leading American college forward Reeves Nelson was kicked off the UCLA team for continual indiscretions that had already seen him serve a number of suspensions. Most related to Nelson turning up late to training and missing team meetings. Given the quality of the player and the fact that last season he lead UCLA in both points-per-game (13.1) and rebounding (9.1), seeing him grace the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine earlier this year, it was expected that he would be picked up by another college team, but instead the 20-year-old has opted to turn pro in Europe before making himself available for the NBA draft next spring. When the news broke in North American media last week, that he would be heading to Lithuania, no clubs in the Baltic State were offering any clues as to whether they had been in talks with the player. Siauliai, Rudupis and Zalgiris were considered the most logical choices for Nelson, but Zalgiris denied on Friday that they had been in contact with the college junior. However, in an interview that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Nelson’s father, Brian, said that Zalgiris was the club that his son was heading to, with it being likely that he will join the team following Christmas Day. Nelson would be replacing another high-profile player in Ty Lawson, who had been playing for Zalgiris whilst the NBA lockout dragged out in North America. But when the lockout talks were concluded last month, the point guard immediately returned to duty with the Denver Nuggets.
Despite their woeful start to the season, Zalgiris Kaunas still remain on the verge of qualifying for the final 16 of Europe’s premier club basketball competition, the Euroleague. Going into their final pool game last night after TBT went to print, Zalgiris sat tied with Brose Baskets in fourth position in Group B with three-win, six-loss records with the top four teams from the group moving on to the next round. Zalgiris had the far easier final game, coming up against KK Zagreb, who have won only two games to date (one which was a two-point victory over Zalgiris), while Brose Baskets were coming up against the yet-to-be-defeated CSKA Moscow who are currently ranked as the top team in Europe. Should they qualify, it will go some way to salvaging what has to date been a terrible season for the Lithuanian club, who have only won five-of-18 games combined between the Euroleague and the Russian-based VTB League. If they did win last night they will move into the second phase of the Euroleague, carrying the worst record of any of the teams.
Latvian ice hockey club Dinamo Riga have parted ways with Czech forward Jakub Sindel, with the two parties coming to a neutral agreement on terminating the 25-year-old’s contract. The forward failed to live up to the expectations required of an international signing, scoring just one goal and failing to provide any assists in 21 appearances for the club, giving him a lowly plus/minus rating of -10, the second worst on the team. Sindel will now continue his career in Finland with Oulu Karpat, a team that already boasts three other Czech players. Dinamo Riga are yet to indicate if his position on the team will be filled by another international player or if they will simply replace him with a player from their farm club, Liepaja Metalurgs or their U20 team, HK Riga. So far this season one player has debuted for Dinamo Riga from the Metalurgs. That player, Juris Upitis, has scored three goals in just eight appearances, making him one of the leading rookies in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).