Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pro Basketball in Finland

Finnish Underground insider H.T. provides us with an insightful perspective on some inner-oddities of basketball in Finland. This most recent entry is compelling, especially with the supplemental videos. As he notes, the videos were originally meant to be for marketing purposes. Considering that was the goal, the clips are pretty amazing. Beyond the profanity and sex-talk, there's some provocative human narratives being told here. Enjoy.

Finnish league team Porvoon Tarmo was in trouble before the2006/2007 season. After finishing 11th out of twelve teams and narrowly securing its place in the 06/07 campaign in spring 2006, a lot of player movement happened. American players Damen Maddox and Rashad Bell left town and their fellow countryman, coach Carl Woodard, left as well. Starting shooting guard Roni Leimu moved to Iceland to play professionally and sixth man Jarno "Nate" Nissinen signed a one-year contract with league newcomer, Team Componenta.

Building a competitive team after collapse turned out to beextraordinarily hard. Tarmo was able to sign Finnish role players Mikael Holme (6-3", 1979) and Ville-Pertti Lind (6-6", 1980), but everybody knew those two guys weren't exactly the kind of players that would be able to challenge Honka Playboys or reigning champion Lappeenranta. Young, energetic coach Tomi Kaminen lured promising point guard prospect Eero Levä (5-11", 1986)to the town of Porvoo, but more had to be done. Most of Finnish free agents were already gone when season was approaching. A full-scale panic seemed to be agreat option.

But then, a miracle happened. Finnish Basketball Association shinedgreat mercy upon the below-average teams of Finnish League stating, that during the season 2006/2007, there wouldn't be a maximum amount of foreign players to use. Because Tarmo wanted to stay competitive, they brought in twelve non-domestic players during the season and preseason. Some of them got booted before the preseason games, and a total of seven (7) stayed until the last game of the playoffs. This is the final list:

BROWN, Dathon (SF, 6-8", 1973, Fort Valley State, USA)
DeWITZ, Nick (PF, 6-8", 1982, Oregon State, USA)
FIRIC, Gordan (SG, 6-5", 1970, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
GERWIG, Nathan (C, 6-8", 1983, Kent State, USA)
GREENE, Daryl (PG, 6-0", 1980, Niagara, USA)
HESTER, Chris (SG, 6-4", 1979, Eastern Washington, USA)
JAABER, Luqman (PG, 5-10", 1983, Virginia Union, USA)
LIPKE, Tom (SG, 6-4", 1986, Braunschweig, Germany)
McDADE, Ryan (PF, 6-8", 1980, Northern Arizona, USA)
MIMS, Karlton aka (PG, 6-2", 1980, Washburn University of Topeka, USA)
MUELLER, Joshua (PG, 5-11", 1982, South Dakota, USA)
NIXON, Joe (SG, 6-4", 1980, DePauw, USA)
+ a couple of African guys whose names I never got to know.

So, what's so darn interesting about all this? Well, new-look Tarmo
also signed some marketing staff just to polish the look of the team, which had taken a nose-dive after one season of glory (or, well, a place in the league semi-finals). One of the great ideas of the new marketing staff was to get a camera crew to Porvoo to follow the players and coaches of the team in every single game and practice and even during off-days. For some reason, the planned reality TV Show never aired but we have to be thankful; there are some fantastic teasers about Tarmo's 2006/2007 campaign in YouTube (in case you didn't get it from the intro, these may not be safe for work-Ed.).









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