Another Aminu brother in the Basketball Champions League
LAVRIO (Greece) - In 2020-21, Lavrio Megabolt got all the way to the League Finals in Greece, booking their first trip to the Basketball Champions League. A big step forward meant that the team had to be upgraded for their inaugural season in the BCL.
The club's leader is their coach Christos Serelis. The 47-year-old was just a 30-year-old when they handed him the reigns in Lavrio, and he has been on the bench since taking over the coaching position in 2004. Serelis was voted the Greek League Best Coach in 2021, completely deserved for shocking the likes of AEK, Promitheas, Peristeri, PAOK and others and booking a Finals rendezvous with Panathinaikos.
Here is what Serelis prepared for 2021-22:
Overall, by September 28, eight new players arrived in Lavrio compared to their 2020-21 squad.
Wajid Aminu is the second Aminu brother in the Basketball Champions League. The first one was Alade Aminu, who was on Nanterre 92's roster in 2017-18, and also played the BCL with Polski Cukier Torun in 2019-20. The third brother is Al-Farouq, enjoying a fine NBA career, currently with the San Antonio Spurs.
Wajid is 23, covers the forward spot with his 6'7''/2.00m frame, and he has already been a double digit scorer in Europe. Aminu played for Rapla in Estonia as a rookie, getting 13 points and 7 rebounds per game in both the Latvian-Estonian League and the Estonian League. In his career so far, Aminu has always been above 1.0 blocks per game, including two straight seasons with 2.1 blocks per game while with the North Florida Ospreys.
Lavrio will have a young team out there. Kenny Goins fits the mold. The 25-year-old went through the legendary Michigan State Spartans program over four years, averaging more rebounds than points per game in each of those four seasons.
Goins is not a rookie in European basketball. He started his professional career with Trapani in the second Italian division, and got a taste of Greek League with Kolossos H Hotels in 2020-21. Kenny averaged 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for his first Greek employer.
Jahvon Blair is another young international player for Lavrio Megabolt, coming straight out of Canada. Blair is 23, plays the point guard position, and is a rookie in Europe, with this being his first professional club after a solid college career.
Blair improved massively over the last two seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, going from 4.3 points per game as a sophomore to 10.8 points as a junior and an impressive 15.4 points on 35 percent shooting from deep as a senior. The lefty guard is 6'4''/1.92m tall.
Speaking of Canada, Marcus Lewis spent five years as a pro there. Lewis, 29, went to Canada in 2015, as soon as he was done with the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in the NCAA. Niagara Rivers Lions, St. John's Edge and Moncton were his clubs in Canada, and he stayed up north even after a trip to Europe.
Lewis played the 2020-21 season with Tampereen Pyrinto in Finland, getting 23.3 points per game with 5.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals to his name, too.
Jerry Smith will give the Lavrio youngsters some much needed experience in 2021-22. The 34-year-old point guard played for the Louisville Cardinals from 2006 to 2010, and then played all over the world - New Zealand, Italy, Israel, Germany, Turkey, France, and finally Greece, from 2018 onwards.
Smith was with Ifaistos limnou for the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 seasons, averaging double digits in more than 40 games for the club. He then went to Larisa, and 16.1 points were impressive enough to have Lewis' phone ringing. He opted for Lavrio, getting his first taste of BCL action.
Three Greek players have also joined the club over the summer. Alfis Pilavios is 22, and is back to his homeland after four seasons in the NCAA, spent with ODU Athletics, where he didn't get as many minutes as he probably wanted. He's a tall shooting guard who is just embarking on this professional basketball journey.
The fact that Dimitrios Kaklamanakis is a newcomer doesn't sound right. The 26-year-old center made his debut for Lavrio back in 2015, and stayed with the club until 2019. But seasons with AEK Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki mean that Kaklamanakis has to be re-added to the Lavrio WhatsApp group in 2021.
Kaklamanakis averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds per game in 2020-21, getting more than 20 minutes each time he stepped on the court. At 6'9''/2.06m, Dimitrios will have to protect the painted area alongside 7'2''/2.18m Stratos Voulgaropoulos, the 20-year-old who came to Lavrio Megabolt last season.
The biggest steal of the summer for Lavrio is the 19-year-old prospect Alexandros Nikolaidis. The son of the former pro player covers the point guard position and is 6'3''/1.90m tall, getting a chance to learn more about professional sports on loan from Olympiacos.
Nikolaidis averaged 14.6 points per game for Olympiacos in the Second Division in 2020-21, while also grabbing 5.3 rebounds and dishing out 4.6 assists per game. His specialty is the defensive end of the floor, Nikolaidis could average more than 2.0 assists per game all season long.
Meanwhile in Greece, a #star is born during #FIBAU18Europe @FIBA ⭐️— basketcity (@basketcity1) August 2, 2019
Check this short #video with Alexandros #Nikolaidis PG of @HellenicBF and his father @sotnikolaidis former @PAOKbasketball player!
Definition of “like father, like son”. pic.twitter.com/GqYLZjFmw9