Nikola Kuga (200-F/G-86) is a 25 years old shooting guard. He was born in Bihac, in the north-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He lived in Croatia , then during the war moved to Montenegro, and finaly to Serbia. So he can call himself a truef Yougoslavian: 'It was a really hard childhood time, but I look at it in a positive way. I can say I was lucky because I met many different people as a kid.'
Kuga's basketball time was also interesting. The 200cm serbian grew up in the famous basketball school of FMP Belgrade (the same youth program of many Euroleague players like Milos Teodosic and Nemanja Aleksandrov). Nikola collected dozens of caps in the Serbia Cadet and Junior teams. He played in Serbia (FMP) , Cyprus (Achilleas), Macedonia (Amak Ohrid), Slovenia (Polzela), Iceland (Skallagrimur) and again in Cyprus (AEK Larnaca) before being a legit pioneer on the other continents: Morocco (Sport Plazza), Dubai (Al Sharjah), the Maldives (RLC). He played in South America (Colombia, the first European ever) and in Asia (Vietnam),and was a top 5 player in the Gran Canaria 2007 Summer League and one of the best in the Malaga 2010 Summer League. Time for an interview:
Hey Nikola, your story is pretty interesting. As a product of the Serbian basketball school you decided early to play abroad. Tell us a little bit about you and your career so far.
I love challenges. As a young player I had a chance to go and play abroad. I left Serbia very early. After Serbia I played in Cyprus, Slovenia, Macedonia, Iceland... after afew years in Europe I was offered to play out of Europe. It was an great chance for me to discover new basketball worlds and start to write the second chapter of my basketball story. My first contact out of the Europe was Morocco. I was fascinated by the different lifestyle, culture, people and history, so I never regretted that decision. I spend one great year and season there, with great success. After that I went back to Europe for one season. At the end of the season I got a lovely offer from the Maldives to play a summer tournament. It was a great preparation for the next season, and a really amazing and relaxing time.
The 2011 season brought big challenges. I went to Latin America, and was the first player from Europe in Colombia ever. It was a crazy time: four games per week, 24 games in less than 2 months, and play offs. It was a really tough league, with some NBA-players. I can describe it in a few words: games, practice, travel, sleep... Of course I had some days off, but only a few times I was able to go out and see the really amazing girls in Colombia.
After this 3 month competition I shortly moved to Dubai and spend a great time with Arabic 2011 Champion Sharjah . One of the best coaches in The Middle East area, Abdul Hamid, called me to help his team for some tournaments there . I couldn't play the championship, because only 1 import' player is allowed over there, and they allready had a US Point gueard. But it was a great expierience. After that I went to Vietnam, my last stop so far.
You have played in so many countries, from Europe to Africa, South America and Asia. What did you learn from this countries and what are the main differences of the game in these different areas?
Playing basketball in all those countries and experiencing different basketball and cultures made me a really better person and a better player. I feel very blessed and thankful for my basketball experiences. I'm focused on working hard, making teams happy and enjoying basketball. I'm a player who's trying to get better and better, this is my challenge and my job.
There are many differences between the game in Europe and other places I played. Out of Europe the game is much more focused on offense. Playing as an import means you have to score 20, 25, 30 points. It's more NBA-style, the game is fast. There's more motion, many fast breaks, people like to see their teams score 100 points in a game. In Europe, teams are more focused on defence, tactics, the position game... so that's the main difference. As a player you have to be a bit more athletic and get individual skills, because you can expect to play a lot of 1 on 1 games, and have to create your own space. Also, almost 80 procent of the points come from import players. Teams are expecting points from you each and every game, while in Europe there are at least 8 or 9 players able to have a high score almost every game. It's not an easy job, but every day you learn new things and that is why I really love basketball.
Do you have funny stories about different local cultures ?
Well, you have to be flexibile and adjust your lifestyle to the local culture. There are many more differences then in basketball. My career brought me in so many countries, experiencing cultures and different mentalities and always learn more about the world we live in. Adjusting is not always easy of course, and there are a lot of funny situations happening every time. People in Asia are so friendly it's always funny walking along the streets every day, where you can just meet people asking you something: it's amazing. It's always a lot of attention. In Morocco it was always funny. Really nice people, but not so organized about basketball. On the day before a game, on the practice all team owners appear and ask the same question: Are you ok?'. Then, the next 5 days, nobody come. The taxi drivers in Vietnam were also funny. They don't speak English. They drive you around the city for 40 minutes, before they drive you to your address. All you can do is wait. Now it's really funy, but there it wasn't .
Food is a special story. You need at least a month to adjust to the local food. In Asia they always make food spicy. On the Maldives, every single meal was spicy. I told them: please bring me an un-spicy meal the next time. Always they answered: sure. And always the next meal was the same as the previous. But hey, now I like spicy food...
Well, I am not much of a different person on and off the court. I love sports. Off season time, I try to stay at least 1 month out of basketball. But I play tennis and I like to swim. The last few years, I use the summer to go in a Hiperbaric Chamber to recover after the season.
I love to discover new things. I love music, the internet. Not so much different things than everybody I guess . I like to spend time with my family. Summer time is great for that, because during the season most of the time we're not together.
What's your next challenge as a player?
Well , I am 25 years old . My previous expierience told me never to say I will go there'. So I hope I will continue to write new chapters of my basketball story somewhere in the world.
Horace Wormely (ex Aguilas) is a newcomer at Riptide - 6 days ago
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Saint John Riptide (NBL Canada) added to their roster 33-year old American point guard Horace Wormely (168-84, college: Vanguard). He played last summer at Aguilas in Colombian Liga DirecTV. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Wormely won Colombian Liga DirecTV-2 championship title in 2015. He was also voted Latinbasket.com All-Colombian Liga DirecTV-2 Import Player of the Year in 2015. Wormely is quite experienced player. Thanks to his pro career he managed to... [read more]
Saint John Riptide (NBL Canada) added to their roster 33-year old American point guard Horace Wormely (168-84, college: Vanguard). He played last summer at Aguilas in Colombian Liga DirecTV. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Wormely won Colombian Liga DirecTV-2 championship title in 2015. He was also voted Latinbasket.com All-Colombian Liga DirecTV-2 Import Player of the Year in 2015. Wormely is quite experienced player. Thanks to his pro career he managed to play on four different continents (Europe, Asia, Latin America and of course North America) in six different countries. Wormely has played previously professionally also in China (Leopards), Germany (Landshut), D-League (Los Angeles D-Fenders), WCBL (Pasadena S.), JBL Pro-Am (Pasadena) and Colombia (Patriotas and Bucaros). He attended Vanguard University until 2006 and it will be his eleventh (!!!) season as a professional player.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea selected the top Colombian playing abroad in last week's games - 9 days ago
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We bring you last week's top performances from Colombians who are playing abroad and who all have had prior experience of national team duties at youth or senior level. Experienced Cesar Cortes (200-F/C-81) managed to help Fuerza Regia Monterrey in a victory against the sixth-ranked Santos in the Mexican LNBP (second division) in Friday night's game.
We bring you last week's top performances from Colombians who are playing abroad and who all have had prior experience of national team duties at youth or senior level.
#1. This week's number one is an international forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea (206-93, currently plays college basketball in the States). He led E.Tenn.St. to an easy victory against the The Citadel (0-2) crushing them 115-71 in the NCAA last Thursday.
Mosquera-Perea scored 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
The East Tennessee State University has 1-0 conference record this season.
This year Mosquera-Perea averages: 9.1ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.3bpg, 2FGP: 61.6%(53-86) and FT: 51.3%.
He is currently a member of the Colombian senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international guard Braian Angola-Rodas (198, currently studies in the States). Angola-Rodas managed to help Florida State University in a victory against the Virginia Tech 93-78 in the NCAA on Saturday night.
He scored only 3 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished 3 assists in 12 minutes.
The Florida State University has 2-0 conference record this season.
It's Angola-Rodas' first year with the team.
This year Angola-Rodas' overall stats are: 4.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 48.6%, 3FGP: 39.1% and FT: 73.3% in 16 games he played so far.
He is in the roster of the Colombian senior national team.
#3. The Colombian player who performed third best last week abroad was an international swingman Thomas Diaz (193-93, currently plays in NCAA2). Diaz contributed to a Texas A&M University - Kingsville's victory against the Tarleton State University (3-0) 76-71 in the NCAA2 in Saturday night's game.
He scored 8 points.
The Texas A&M University - Kingsville has 0-2 record this season.
Diaz has been at the team for five years.
Diaz's total stats this year are: 3.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 2FGP: 57.1%, 3FGP: 37.5% and FT: 75.0%.
He is also a member of the Colombian senior national team.
#4. Guard Hansel Atencia (180-97, currently plays in NAIA). Atencia could not help the The Master's College, CA (0-1) to beat the Hope International University (0-1).
He recorded 9 points and added 3 assists in 26 minutes.
But the The Master's College, CA was crushed 88-56 on the road by the Hope International University.
Atencia has relatively good stats this year: 10.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.6apg and 1.6spg in eight games.
He has a dual citizenship: Spanish and Colombian.
Atencia is also Colombian national team player.
One more player who has never been selected to any of national teams, but has Colombian passport:
#1. Experienced Cesar Cortes (200-F/C-81, currently plays in Mexico) managed to help Fuerza Regia Monterrey in a victory against the sixth-ranked Santos (10-16) 98-79 in the Mexican LNBP (second division) in Friday night's game.
He recorded only 4 points and added 4 assists in 12 minutes.
Fuerza Regia Monterrey (25-1) is placed first in the LNBP.
It was his team's fourth consecutive victory in a row.
This year Cortes averages: 4.1ppg and 1.5apg in 11 games he played so far.
Sean Harris (ex Halcones) agreed terms with TLU/Kalev - 3 months ago
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Tallinna Ulikool/Kalev (Alexela KML) inked American forward Sean Harris (201-100kg, college: Utah State). He played in the summer at Halcones in Colombia Liga DirecTV. In 18 games he recorded 10.6ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.3apg and 1.4spg. Harris graduated from Utah State in 2015 and it will be his second season in pro basketball. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List in Estonia [read more]
Tallinna Ulikool/Kalev (Alexela KML) inked American forward Sean Harris (201-100kg, college: Utah State). He played in the summer at Halcones in Colombia Liga DirecTV. In 18 games he recorded 10.6ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.3apg and 1.4spg. Harris graduated from Utah State in 2015 and it will be his second season in pro basketball.
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