By John Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving overseas for the first time can be challenging for any player. It still is very early in terms of Keith Hornsby’s experience in Europe, but no adjustment issues can be observed so far, especially in his Basketball Champions League Group D showing on Tuesday. The 27-year-old American guard made 8/11 beyond the arc for 28 points guiding Polski Cukier Torun to the home win against SIG Strasbourg.
“I’ve always worked to have a versatile and non one-dimensional offensive game, but at the end of the day, the ability to shoot the three is something I cherish and consistently work hard at” he mentioned to Eurohoops referring to his career-high eight threes, “I’ve had a few games where I’ve hit six or seven threes, but eight is definitely a personal high. I guess you just have to keep shooting and hope more make it in than miss. That’s the aim.”
A couple of seasons at UNC Asheville, a transfer to LSU as a junior NCAA player and three G League campaigns with the Texas Legends led him to Poland. He made them three-pointers drop in the G League with 49.1% from three-point range in the 2018-19 season and carried his long shot effectiveness to Europe shooting nearly 52% in his first eight games across the Atlantic Ocean.
“It is my first year in Europe, but I’ve always wanted to play overseas and check out the basketball across the waters from the states” Hornsby confessed to Eurohoops, “One of the reasons i wanted to play in Europe was the potential to compete against storied and talented clubs across the continent. Luckily in my first year I’ll get a chance, and I’m very thankful and excited about that.”
Tuesday’s victory improved Polski Cukier Torun BCL W-L tally to 1-1 in Group A which seems open to various outcomes. Only four out of the eight participating teams will advance to the playoffs and compete for a spot in the quarterfinals via a best-of-three series. Still 12 games to go, but taking care of business at home can make the difference in the final standings.
“Like any smart club will do, we won’t look too far in advance, but simply take it one game at a time” he pointed out to Eurohoops on the playoffs race, “However, if we want to make it out of our group we must protect home court! Our group is filled with talented teams so each night will be a challenge, but it’s something I look forward to!”.
Hornsby himself will likely be a big part of any success for the 2019 PKL Playoffs finalists that are already up 4-0 in the 2019-20 campaign of the Polish League. The Virginia-born player contributed with 19 points including 56% outside the rainbow, 4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per PLK game to go along with his 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per BCL contest.
“The rest of the year you can expect some exciting games and performances that hopefully contribute to wins for my club” he promised, “You can also expect consistent aggressiveness and effort because that’s the only way I know how to play”.
“I’ve always been a threat from behind the arc since my baby days, but last year I really took a step forward in leading the G-League in three-point percentage” said the explosive combo guard. He indeed made 40% of his three-point efforts in his four NCAA seasons starting off with 35.7% in 2011-12 with UNC Asheville, 37.9% in his second season with the Bulldogs, 39.3% in 2014-15 with LSU and 41.5% up to his season-ending abdominal injury in 2015-16.
The building trend expanded into his professional career and the G League with 34.4% and 37.8% in his first couple of campaigns preceding his league-high showing of 49.1% last season. This year, Hornsby sank 14 out of his first 30 attempts in the Champions League including his 8/11 opposite to Strasbourg and is 14/25 in PLK action.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League