TIB EMBL Team Of The Month of January

TIB EMBL Team Of The Month of January

Congratulations Jabril Durham, Alex Libert, Vladimir Mihailovic, Pierre-Antoine Gillet and Pape Badji ! You made it to our prestigious TIB EMBL Team Of The Month or TIBEMBLTOTM in short.   (Alex Libert- Arik Smith -Louis Hazard – Mario Nakic -Tim Lambrecht was our team of the month in November-December)

  Jabril Durham

Two wins in the competition, two losses in the cup, Mons advanced to the Fiba Europe Cup playoffs.

Individually: 17 points and eight assists per game.

  Mons is the only team without a loss in the EMBL competition (7-0), and playmaker Jabril Durham was the best point guard in January. His vision and passing skills are tremendous. It must be a pleasure for guys like Auston Barnes, Arik Smith and Skylar Spencer to play alongside him. At home against Liège, he dished out an impressive 14 assists. Will anyone do better this season?   

Alex Libert

Two wins and one loss in the competition, knocked out of the cup after one win (+9) and one loss (-11).

Individually: 18 points and 5,3 assists per game.

Spirou got knocked out of the cup. The result could have gone the other way if the refs called the foul by D’Espallier on the final shot of Fogang. Still, Libert is the only player who made it to two consecutive ‘TIB teams of the month’. Since the start of the season, he has played at a very high level. Libert is the heart and soul of Charleroi and an inspiration for all its young talents. He kept the team going despite the absence of Milan Samardzic. With the Spanish point guard Sergio Llorente joining the team, Libert will move off-ball, which shouldn’t be a problem. Libert started at the season as shooting guard alongside Samardzic and was comfortable at the position as well. Can he make it to three TIBEMBLTOTM in a row?  

Vladimir Mihailovic

Seven games, seven wins for Okapi in January, advanced to the semis in the cup.

Individually: 22 points, 4,1 rebounds, 3,7 assists per game

It was one of the first things coach Yves Defraigne said when he arrived in Aalst last year: “Mihailovic should move to the two-position with a real point guard next to him”. And that’s what Defraigne did in the offseason, acquiring point guard Bogic Vujosevic. Vujosevic obviously agrees with the analysis: “Mihailovic is more dangerous on the off-guard, that’s his natural position, he can be more aggressive now and doesn’t have to spend energy bringing the ball up.” Mihailovic enjoys working together with the experienced Belgian coach Defraigne: “It’s great. We have a pretty good relationship. After all my experiences with other teams and coaches, I still learn a lot from him.”   Mihailovic’ 45 point explosion is not a historical record. At least three players have done better (Kamiel Dierckx, 73; Bill Varner, 54 and Pieter Loridon, 46) but it was nine years ago since anyone scored so many points in a game in the first division in Belgium. Chris Copeland did it for Okapi in 2012 against Charleroi. Copeland’s next stop was the New York Knicks. I’m pretty sure Mihailovic won’t make it to the NBA next year, but he truly is a joy to watch in our EMBL competition.  

Pierre-Antoine Gillet

Five games, five wins for BCO in January, four victories in a row against direct opponent Antwerp Giants. One win and one loss in the Champions League. BCO could not progress to BCL playoffs.

Individually: 13 points and 5,4 rebounds per game.

Coming back from injury, Gillet scored at least two three-balls in every game he played. He is an excellent spot-up shooter. Gillet came back to Belgium this season in what must have been the best off-season move this summer. The best for Oostende that is, not for Antwerp Giants. Oostende defeated the Giants in four consecutive games, a big blow for Antwerp that needs to go back to the drawing board to make the right adjustments to save the season.    It’s always tricky to talk about individual performances when you’re talking about Oostende, but Gillet stood out in January. He had to because the second unit was almost invisible in the games against Antwerp. It’s scary for opponents to see that Oostende’s second unit did wake up from hibernation in their last match in January against Brussels, scoring 50 of all 82 Oostende points. And so, at the end of the month, Gjergja has got what he needs every year: a great first and second unit.  

Pape Badji

Seven games, seven wins for Okapi in January, advanced to the semis in the cup.

Individually: 12 points and eight rebounds per game.

Thomas Welsh, Skylar Spencer, Trevor Thompson, Ibrahima Fall Faye, etc. will all vie the non-existing best center of the year award. In January, the best center in Belgium was Pape Badji, and he can still improve. He was ill in the two games against Mons, but was nonetheless pretty dominant under the basket in January. We are delighted the big friendly Senegalese giant is back in Belgium. After two seasons in Willebroek, he spent time in France: “That was a difficult experience for me”, he told us after the game in Leuven. “I suffered from injuries, and I needed a change of scenery. So when Aalst contacted me, I took the chance.”

Maarten Weynants

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