By Semih Tuna / email@example.com
While the 2023 FIBA World Cup was still on, Pinar Karsiyaka surprised everybody by bringing EuroLeague veteran Darrun Hilliard to the Basketball Champions League, signing the 30-year-old guard on a one-year deal.
Talking to Eurohoops about this move, the Turkish side’s head coach praised the former Maccabi Tel Aviv player. “Hilliard is a good scorer who was constantly in the EuroLeague after college. Very experienced. He is a clear shooter and if you look at his last years, he is a player who can shoot 40% from three”, he said before comparing him to Braian Angola, who had 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in last year’s Basketball Champions League campaign with the green-and-red team. “Of course, Angola is a player who can get to the basket more than Hilliard. Hilliard also has different characteristics. This is partly related to game chemistry”, the Turkish head coach added.
The comparison between the two, after the Colombian forward moved to Hapoel Tel Aviv, continued. “He remained a bit more of a sharpshooter in Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Hilliard will evolve into a different role for us. I think Braian Angola’s plus point was that he always kept his shooting percentage high last season. But when you look at his career, he actually didn’t shoot as much as he did last year. This was important for him because he could not always play by attacking the basket. Angola also contributed a lot to us. Maybe he couldn’t contribute to the score in the semi-finals and finals, but sometimes players have downfalls, it’s normal”, Ufuk Sarica added.
“When Hilliard was on our list at the beginning of the year, they said EuroLeague, and his price was very different from today’s price, it was unthinkable for us. Later, under today’s conditions, we added him to the squad. Hopefully, he will also play very positive basketball. Personally, he is already a very positive person”, he added about the former CSKA Moscow and Bayern Munich guard, who had 9.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game in last year’s EuroLeague.
Ufuk Sarica also commented on Braian Angola’s pre-agreement with Maccabi Tel Aviv last year. “It didn’t really affect us at all. Maybe if it had happened when I was playing basketball, both the club side, the player side, and the fan side would not have accepted these things very much. Today is different. These transfers can happen during the season and everyone can maintain that professionalism. It didn’t affect the team much. However, in the case of Angola, his performance in the semi-final and final series may have been a bit of a downside. This is my own assessment”, he said about the player, who eventually didn’t make it to the yellow-and-blue EuroLeague side.