The Euroleague season continues to march on for Urok Slokar and Roko Leni-Ukic and fortunately for them they have experienced more winning that the current Raptors squad.
Lucky for Raps fans Roko is learning what is takes to win games as his team, Tau Ceramica is now tied for first in Group A with a 5-1 record and have outscored their opponents by 57 points during the first six games. Unfortunately that's about all the good news when it comes to Roko as he is now out for at least the next thirty days with a kidney problem. The initial injury was suffered during Tau's November 25 match-up against Pamesa Valencia in the Spanish League (not Euro), and although originally not thought to be serious, since then things have gone downhill. Although he was supposed to miss about ten days, as of December 1 Roko remains in hospital. Here's hoping Roko makes a full recovery and the kidney does not jeopardize his future basketball career. There is little reporting on this injury so we don't want to make the situation out to be more than it is, but it does not sound good.
This being the case it almost seems trivial to report on the games Roko has played since the last Euro update. In a 77-62 victory over AEK Athens who features former Vermont product Taylor Coppenrath, Roko managed to play 17 minutes and had 6 points on 2 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc. He also managed 2 assists and a rebound. Not stellar numbers but Roko is inexperienced and over time (provided he comes back healthy) that shot will become more consistent. We all know Jose is not the best shooter but it will come in time. Perhaps the most disappointing part of seeing Roko go down is that the following match-up was against fellow draftee Uros and Benetton.
Uros' Benetton team is also in Group A of EuroLeague and has a solid record of 4-2. Again it is nice to see Uros is in a winning environment. That being said he must feel like a New York Knick under Larry Brown as his minutes fluctuate more than the time flux capacitor. As mentioned in the first update Uros seems efficient when provided some time and we are hoping for the coach to give him some more burn.
Since the last update Benetton has played 3 games and have lost two including one to Zalgiris Kaunas by the score of 88-70. Although it was the first loss of the season for Benetton, Uros was provided some minutes and had a stellar performance while logging 18 minutes. During those 18 minutes of run Uros filled the stat sheet with 11 points which included 1-1 from downtown, 6 trips to the line (4-6), 5 boards including 3 offensive, 1 assist, a steal and a block. Hells-YA and all of this was off the bench. If I played fantasy Eurobasketball he'd be a hot commodity! As a side note this game featured Ed Cota who played all 40 minutes and almost had a triple-double.
As mentioned above the following match-up should have matched the two Raptors picks but unfortunately it was not to be. But what a game it was going to overtime where Tau handed Benetton it's second loss in as many games. Perhaps the loss should be attributed to the lack of time given to Uros as he only played 5 minutes with a stat line that included 2 points (1-1 from the floor) and two boards. To say this game was a little anti-climactic for Raps fans would not be an understatement.
In the most recent game Benetton managed to get back on track hammering AEK Athens 83-57 in thanks part to Uros who again in minimum time did maximum damage managing 3 points, 5 boards and steal and a block in 13 minutes. Clearly Uros is doing the most with his time which will bode well for when he is trying to grab some PT next year from Coach Mitchell.
Well obviously the Roko injury is not one that Raps fans care to hear but hopefully it is nothing more than a short term set back. One question that must be asked in the meantime concerning Uros is ...why is he not getting more time?! In Eurobasket the vets get a lot of love and time so Uros will have to continue to impress in short stints for the time being. That being said it is good to see he is showing abilities in all areas of the game.
Look for more updates in the weeks ahead.