Congratulations, Loïc Schwartz, Vladimir Mihailovic, Tim Lambrecht, Ryan Kriener and Skylar Spencer. You made it to the TIB EMBL Team of the Month of April, your grandkids will admire you.
November-December: Alex Libert – Arik Smith – Louis Hazard – Mario Nakic – Tim Lambrecht)
Six wins and zero losses
Individually: 13 points and 1.7 assists per game
The month of April was a disaster for Filou Oostende with lots of covid cases and three postponed games, but… they did win all of their games, which is a good bonus for them going into a crazy month of May with 11 to possibly 13 games. As always, no one stood out this month, with Gillet, Sylla and Buysschaert, all playing great basketball. Yet, Schwartz played on a very high level, offensively and defensively tasked with guarding the opponent’s best backcourt player. Schwartz has revived his career this season. At a dead-end at Charleroi, Oostende offered him a final chance. He took it with both hands. After Buysse, Mwema, Boukichou and Salumu, Schwartz is another excellent example of what the teaching skills of Dario Gjergja can do with a player. This season, Schwartz is the one helping his team to overcome challenging moments, and he’s the most creative player on the squad.
Five wins and three losses
Individually: 23 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game
The Montenegrin basketball hero is the only player who made it to three teams of the month this year, and the reason he did not make it to the first team of the month is that Aalst only played one game in 2020! Let’s focus on one aspect of his game that makes him exceptional: his ability to draw fouls. So far this season, Mihailovic has had four games in which he drew ten fouls or more. That’s huge. And unfortunately for the players who fouled him, Mihailovic makes his free throws: 86% this month. Mihailovic basically prints his own money.
Three wins and four losses
Individually: 16 points, 11 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game
“He can’t play defence on my grandma.” That’s what a former coach said about Lambrecht’s defensive skills. He still isn’t the best defensive player in the league, but he has become much more serviceable on that end of the floor. Offensively though, he is just fantastic. The progress Lambrecht made this season is unbelievable. In Oostende, he faced tough competition with one season Kuridza and Fieler and the other year Djurisic and Fieler ahead of him in the pecking order. His minutes per game doubled in Leuven, and his confidence followed suit, but his scoring didn’t. In Leuven, too, he only scored four points a game while everyone saw Lambrecht was capable of much more. His move to Charleroi and coach Rotsaert was the right thing to do. “The only thing Lambrecht needed was a coach who believes in him” is Rotsaert’s explanation for Lambrecht’s breakthrough. This year, Lambrecht is scoring 16 points a game. In addition, he holds the single-game rebounding record, grabbing 20 boards against Leuven.
Three wins and three losses
Individually: 20 points and 7.2 rebounds per game
What a player! Leuven already beat Oostende and Aalst this season and thanks to Kriener’s stellar play, Mons and Antwerp were added to that list in April. He brought a winning mentality to the team. He can do everything: centre moves, drives to the basket, and three-pointers: he scored 6-for-8 three balls during the last three games. He won’t stay in Leuven, that’s clear after the team acquired American Nick McGlynn as their center for next season. Hopefully, we’ll see Kriener back in Belgium next season. Is Antwerp Kriener’s next stop in his career?
Five wins and two losses
Individually: 14 points and 11 rebounds per game
I know, after Kriener, Spencer is the second center in this list. That doesn’t make any sense. But, after he was snubbed in all my previous Team-Of-The-Months lists, I couldn’t do it again. Mons lost Lennard Freeman in the offseason, but no one is still talking about him because Spencer filled Freeman’s shoes. Spencer cleans up the glass for Mons, and no one in this league misses fewer shots than he does: he is the EMBL field goal percentage leader with 71%. Jabril Durham and Arik Smith feed him with perfect alley-oop passes. And then, there is that other aspect of the game: defence. Only Oostende plays better D than Mons this season. Skylar Spencer plays a great role in that as the league’s best shot blocker. Mons as a team needs to bounce back, though. The last three games in April and the first one in May were not good; it is their first skid of the season