COTA GOES, WILLIAMS STAYS
* For Ed Cota the Russian Superleague season is over. For Shammond Williams the chase for a league title continues.
Last Wednesday, Cota's Dynamo St. Petersburg squad forced a decisive fifth game with Khimki. It took a long, desperation buzzer-beater by Mate Milisa (Long Beach State) off of a pass by a closely guarded Cota to give Dynamo a stunning 83-81 win to tie the series at 2-2.
Game 5 was played in Moscow on Saturday night and Dynamo SPb fell behind early, 17-11 after one quarter, and never recovered in the defensive struggle won by Khimki, 65-58. Cota handed out seven assists, grabbed eight boards, but could only manage three points on 1-of-9 field goal attempts as the Khimki defense applied heavy pressure to keep him under control.
For the first time in four years overseas, Cota did not finish the season as a domestic league champ. However, Dynamo did win the FIBA Europe League championship just over two weeks ago.
* Shammond Williams netted a game-high 25 points (7-12 FG, 3-6 3-pt. FG, 8-9 FT) to lead UNICS Kazan over Locomotiv Rostov 109-94. Williams was one of four Kazan players to score 20 or more points as the team connected on 39-of-56 shots from the floor (69.7 percent).
The win sends Williams and Kazan into the Championship of Russia semifinals against Dynamo Moscow (19-5, second-place). Trajan Langdon (Duke) and Lynn Greer (Temple) are among the players Williams will face in the series versus Dynamo Moscow.
CALABRIA LIGHTS IT UP
* Former Tar Heel sharpshooter Dante Calabria helped Armani Jeans Milano jump to a 2-0 lead in the Italian League playoff quarterfinals on Saturday. Calabria fired in a team-high 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field that included a barrage of 7-for-13 from three-point range.
Calabria was on target from longe range, but was an unlikely 1-4 from the free throw line in the 92-83 victory. In the regular season, Calabria averaged 13.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 34 games, shooting 40 percent on three-point attempts (82-205) and going 85.7 percent on free throws (60-70).
RODL ROLLING IN GERMANY
* Henrik Rodl coached ALBA Berlin, the regular-season first-place team, to a 98-80 German League quarterfinal playoff victory on Friday. Berlin leads the best-of-five series 1-0.
"We did not begin playing defense aggressively enough. In the last quarter our pressure on defense finally improved," said Rodl, according to the ALBA Berlin official website. "But on Tuesday against our opponent in Ludwigsburg, we must again prove ourselves. We saw today that this series can still be very exciting,"
OKULAJA LOOKING AHEAD
* On his trilingual offical website at www.okulaja.com, Ademola Okulaja tells his fans that this has indeed been a very "tough season" season for him to endure.
Okulaja, playing in Valencia, Spain, posted recently on his site that he has missed most of this season due to knee injuries. "It is very testing for my patience and desire to play. I never had an injury in my career and this season I had two back to back," Okulaja stated.
Okulaja also notes he is working hard to recover and get back on the court. He is planning to be available to play for Germany in the 2005 European Championships in Serbia & Montenegro during September.
Okulaja played in only 15 Spanish League games for Valencia (18-16, ninth-place) and averaged 28 mpg, 11.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg. He last played on March 26.
LANG AWAITS PLAYOFFS IN SPAIN
* Kris Lang contributed 11 points (5-5 FG, 1-2 FT) in 16 minutes as Unicaja Malaga (23-11) ended the season with a win that pushed them to a fourth-place finish in the Spanish League.
If center Zan Tabak is still sidelined due to injury, Lang will continue playing for Malaga into the playoffs. Lang has played eight games in Spain and made an impressive 27 of 35 shots from field (77.1 percent) while blocking 13 shots and averaging 8.2 ppg and 4.6 rpg.
EVTIMOV OUT AGAIN
* Vasco Evtimov has been ruled out for the remainder of the season (the playoffs) by his club in Italy, Lottomatica Roma (18-16), due to more concerns about an irregular heartbeat. Evtimov, who joined Roma from Spain's Caja San Fernando at the end of February, has played only four games for the club.
Evtimov was previously sidelined after medical tests indicated a possible irregular heartbeat, then had later been cleared to play. But after another series of examinations team doctors have decided that he should not play anymore this season.
In four games played in the Italian League, Evtimov averaged 8.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg in 17.3 mpg.