By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cologne, Germany – Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown is visiting Cologne in Germany to watch the EuroBasket where big man Domantas Sabonis is competing with the Lithuanian national team. And he’s loving the show.
“I enjoy it,” Brown told Eurohoops. Before Cologne, he attended Group A games in Milan to support Kings‘ Ukrainian center, Alex Len. “It’s a fun game to watch, the coaches are creative the plays are really good. It’s an extremely physical game. It amazes me how physical the game is and how everyone just keeps playing.”
A few days ago, Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups explained how he appreciates the national team competitions and why he thinks it’s a great way for an NBA player to prepare for the coming season. He also mentioned that, in general, he wants his guys to play during summer instead of just practicing.
Coach Brown, who is acquainted with international competitions and also as coach of Nigeria, agrees. “100 percent,” Brown said to Eurohoops. “There’s nothing better in my opinion than getting yourself ready for an NBA season than playing and practicing at the level that these guys [in the EuroBasket] do.”
“You know you always worry about injury and that’s a concern of all of ours,” Brown also mentioned. But these guys are so passionate about playing for their country that is hard to not support them. You want them to do what they’re passionate about because that’s what life is about.”
There are two Kings players participating in the EuroBasket but they could’ve easily been three. Earlier in the summer, the club acquired the NBA rights to EuroLeague star forward Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos Piraeus and was interested in potentially signing him to a deal.
As Brown said, the Kings invited Vezenkov to Sacramento but the Bulgarian player couldn’t come due to his obligations with the national team. Any discussions regarding him coming over are postponed for the next summer.
“We were hoping he could come out so we’d get to know him a little bit and take a look at him but he had other commitments this summer, especially with the national team and all this stuff,” Brown said. “We have his rights so we’ll circle back at him next summer.
“He’s big and versatile. He can shoot the ball, he’s a veteran, and he’s smart. He just knows how to play the game,” Brown added.
Speaking of European players, Brown has some rather fond memories of Serbian forward Sasa Pavlovic. He actually believes that the now retired Serbian forward could’ve stayed in the NBA much longer than he did.
“There are a lot of talented guys in Europe,” Brown said. “Even a guy like Sasa Pavlovic who I coached at Cleveland. I think he could’ve played longer. I think he could’ve had a bigger role [in the NBA]. It was just one of those things… sometimes guys get homesick and they want to come back than play here [in the NBA]. He’s a guy that I had a lot of fun coaching.”