Eurobasket.com had a chance to chat with Orlando Johnson (196-G/F-89, college: UCSB), new player of Al Riyadi club. A versatile swingman, ex-NBA and Euroleague player talks about his career and new goals in the upcoming months.
Orlando, thanks for sitting with us. You have started this season with Unics Kazan, on of the best European clubs. You played solid in Euroleague, including 16 points against great Fenerbahce. Your numbers were even better in VTB League. What went wrong there?
Nothing went wrong in Kazan it was an opportunity for me to get my feet wet in Europe/Euroleague. Also get my name out there as a player who could play over here and be a big contributor. I wanted to use this experience as a stepping stool in my career I loved my time in Russia especially with my team the good and bad. Hopefully one day I can return.
Then you joined Austin Spurs in D-League. I guess you wanted to get back to the NBA. Was there any chance to get back to the NBA?
I did want to get back to the NBA that's always the goal it didn't happen this year but I always want to try and play against the best of the best. I was happy with the decision to test it out again.
And now you are in Lebanon? How it happened? There were still some top European leagues where you could find your spot.
I feel at this point in my career I want to go where I'm wanted and Al Riyadi showed significant interest and that's where I want to be, where the love is!
Al Riyadi, one of the most sucessful clubs in Middle-East. What are your expectations of your new club?
Coming to one of the top teams in the Middle East first off is an honor and blessing that they chose me and second I want to go all the way I want to come home a champion!
You are still not old player, what are your goals for the upcoming seasons? Going back to the NBA? Establish your position in top European clubs?
Not old at all definitely feel as YOUNG as ever! This upcoming season is all about going where I am wanted and needed whether that's the NBA or overseas. I'm trying to be a piece of a winning culture.
You have played few different leagues outside the USA. How do you see the differences? In and off the court?
I think more so the style of the games are different from the NBA to Europe to Asia. Each one of the continents have plenty of talent it's just a preferred style that each country uses. Almost everywhere I have played I have enjoyed very easy going and open to new things!
You grew up in CA, went to Loyola Marymount and UCSB. Was basketball your no1 sport since day one?
I grew up in Seaside, CA and growing up football was my main sport. Until I got to high school and I wanted to try the more challenging one which was basketball, because many people believed I wouldn't make it this far. So I chose the path less traveled and wanted to prove them wrong.
Now, few quick questions... your best game so far?
Best game so far when I had 50 over in the Philippines started off slow but then got hot and that's was a lot of fun!
Best player you played against?
Best player I played against would be Lebron James!
Best player you played with in one team?
Best player I played with would have to be Paul George!
Funniest fact from playing basketball overseas?
I think the funniest thing is from growing up over here in America not much is really that different over there, except the language barrier at times.
How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?
Myself as a player a good teammate first, combo guard who can make others better. Very strong and athletic and someone who does what it takes to win!
OK, that's it Orlando. Thanks again and good luck in new club!
Sagesse - Al Hekmeh Beirut (Pepsi LBL) inked 32-year old Senegalese forward Mouhammad Faye (208-85, college: SMU). He started the season at Promitheas in Greek A1 league. In 23 games he averaged 11.5ppg, 6.1rpg and 1.1apg this season. The last season Faye played at Openjobmetis VA in Italian Serie A where in 21 games he had 9.3ppg, 7.9rpg and 1.0apg. He also played 13 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he recorded 9.5ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.2apg. In 2010 Faye was drafted by Rio Grande Valley Vipers... [read more]
Sagesse - Al Hekmeh Beirut (Pepsi LBL) inked 32-year old Senegalese forward Mouhammad Faye (208-85, college: SMU). He started the season at Promitheas in Greek A1 league. In 23 games he averaged 11.5ppg, 6.1rpg and 1.1apg this season. The last season Faye played at Openjobmetis VA in Italian Serie A where in 21 games he had 9.3ppg, 7.9rpg and 1.0apg. He also played 13 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he recorded 9.5ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.2apg. In 2010 Faye was drafted by Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League) in third round (7th overall). The former Southern Methodist University standoutis in his seventh season in pro basketball. Among other achievements Faye played in the final of D-League in 2011. He received also USBasket.com All-D-League Import Player of the Year award back in 2011. Faye was also a member of Senegalese international program for some years. He played for Senegalese Senior National Team between 2007 and 2015 and previously for U18 National Team between 2002 and 2004. Faye also represented Senegal at the Afrobasket Championships in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) four years ago. His team won Bronze and his stats at that event were 7 games: 9.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 56.0%. Faye has quite traveled the world as his pro career brought him to three different continents (Europe, Africa and of course North America). Faye has played previously professionally in France (Hyeres-Toulon) and Senegal (JA Dakar and Rail). His game is described as:
True height is probably around 6-9. A lanky forward, with great wingspan, good ball handling skills and long range shooting ability. He's very active on the court, loves to attack the basket, can grab lots of rebounds. Very active in defense. Can play in the two forward positions, but his future is at the SF, thanks to his good perimetral skills.
Recap of Pepsi LBL Round 2 of Quarter-Finals - 1 day ago
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Sagesse - Al Riyadi 81-78 Sagesse held off Al Riyadi to even the series at 1-1. Al Riyadi was trailing by 8 points at halftime but managed to get 2-point lead after three quarters before a 29-24 charge of Sagesse, which allowed them to win the game. The best player for the winners was American-Ukrainian guard Steven Burtt (189-84, college: Iona) who scored 34 points (!!!) and 5 assists. American forward Calvin Godfrey (206-90, college: Memphis) chipped in a double-double by scoring 17 po... [read more]
Sagesse held off Al Riyadi to even the series at 1-1. Al Riyadi was trailing by 8 points at halftime but managed to get 2-point lead after three quarters before a 29-24 charge of Sagesse, which allowed them to win the game. The best player for the winners was American-Ukrainian guard Steven Burtt (189-84, college: Iona) who scored 34 points (!!!) and 5 assists. American forward Calvin Godfrey (206-90, college: Memphis) chipped in a double-double by scoring 17 points and 18 rebounds. Nigerian power forward Alade Aminu (210-87, college: Georgia Tech, agency: Three Eye Sports) produced 19 points and 7 rebounds and Dominican-American point guard Edgar Sosa (190-88, college: Louisville) added 12 points and 10 assists respectively for the guests. Four Sagesse and five Al Riyadi players scored in double figures. Top scorers: Sagesse: S.Burtt 34+3reb+5ast, C.Godfrey 17+18reb, B.Ammoury 11+6reb+4ast, P.Bou Abboud 11+7reb, C.Raines 5+4reb+1ast, M.Ibrahim 3+7reb+9ast Al Riyadi: A.Aminu 19+7reb+2ast, A.Saoud 18+1ast, O.Johnson 13+7reb, E.Sosa 12+2reb+10ast, M.Haidar 11+10reb+2ast, A.Ismail 3+1reb+2ast
Tadamon beat Byblos to tie things up at 1-1 in the series. Tadamon knocked down Byblos Byblos were ahead by 2 points after three quarters before a 26-16 charge of Tadamon, which allowed them to win the game. They outrebounded Byblos 48-30 including a 36-19 advantage in defensive rebounds. It was a great shooting night for Tadamon especially from behind the arc, where they had solid 57.1 percentage. American guard Courtney Pigram (185-85, college: E.Tenn.St.) orchestrated the victory by scoring 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. The other American import forward Maurice Kemp (203-91, college: E.Carolina, agency: Duran International) contributed with 23 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. Four Tadamon players scored in double figures. American guard Clay Tucker (196-80, college: Wisc.-Milwaukee) replied with 21 points and 7 assists and the former international Jasmon Youngblood (195-84, college: Kent St.) added 27 points in the effort for Byblos. Top scorers: Tadamon: M.Kemp 23+7reb+2ast, C.Pigram 23+9reb+6ast, M.Ilic 10+18reb+2ast, J.Khalil 10+2reb+3ast, G.Hadidian 7+3reb, R.Fahed 6+2reb+3ast Byblos: J.Youngblood 27+3reb, C.Tucker 21+3reb+7ast, A.Traore 16+8reb+2ast, A.Kanaan 8+7reb+1ast, A.Mahmoud 5+4reb+4ast, R.Akl 3+2reb+2ast
Homenetmen outgunned Champville for 2-0 lead. The guests trailed by 2 points after three quarters before their 31-22 charge, which allowed them to win the game. Homenetmen dominated down low during the game scoring 64 of its points in the paint compared to Champville's 42. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Homenetmen made 7 blocks. The former international swingman Fadi El-Khatib (198-79) scored 33 points (!!!) to lead the charge for the winners and American-Iraqi point guard Kevin Galloway (200-88, college: Texas Southern) chipped in 19 points and 10 assists during the contest. Homenetmen's coach Joe Nebhan used a ten-player rotation which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. American forward Daniel Orton (208-90, college: Kentucky) responded with a double-double by scoring 19 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists and his fellow American import point guard Patrick Rembert (185-89, college: Cal-Irvine) scored 21 points and 6 assists (was perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line). Four Homenetmen and five Champville players scored in double figures. Top scorers: Homenetmen: F.El Khatib 33+4reb+1ast, K.Galloway 19+2reb+10ast, A.Majok 13+9reb+1ast, D.Jackson 11+9reb+4ast, N.Souaid 4+2reb+1ast, N.Hawi 4+4reb Champville: P.Rembert 21+3reb+6ast, D.Orton 19+10reb+5ast, B.Thomas 12+3reb+1ast, A.Farhat 11+4reb+2ast, B.Bawji 10+15reb+2ast, J.Assi 5+4reb
Louaize rallied past Moutahed for the first win. International guard Geron Johnson (190-92, college: Memphis) notched 22 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists to lead the effort and American forward Alandise Harris (198-90, college: Arkansas, agency: Diamond Sports) supported him with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Four Louaize players scored in double figures. Even a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds by American forward Cleveland Melvin (203-91, college: De Paul) did not help to save the game for Al Moutahed. His fellow American import guard Ramel Curry (191-80, college: CSU Bakersfield) added 14 points and 7 assists for the guests. Top scorers: Louaize: G.Johnson 22+5reb+9ast, A.Harris 18+6reb+1ast, E.Stephan 18+1reb, W.Lewis 12+8reb, M.Martinez 4+2reb+4ast, J.Salem 3+6reb+1ast Moutahed: C.Melvin 27+14reb+3ast, D.Spencer 17+4reb+2ast, R.Curry 14+2reb+7ast, C.Tabet 9+10reb+1ast, E.Rustom 4+4reb+2ast, M.Ziadeh 2+2reb
Nauticos of Mazatlan (CIBACOPA) signed experienced 35-year old American forward Omar Thomas (196-101kg-82, college: UTEP). He just played at Hoops in Lebanese Pepsi LBL. In 13 games he had very impressive stats: 19.8ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.5apg and 1.8spg this season. Thomas also played that season for Vanoli Cremona in Italian Serie A where in 6 Pepsi LBL games he recorded 6.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.2apg and 1.2spg. In 2005 he was drafted by Yakama Sun Kings (CBA) as #4 pick overall. Thomas attended Univ.... [read more]
Nauticos of Mazatlan (CIBACOPA) signed experienced 35-year old American forward Omar Thomas (196-101kg-82, college: UTEP). He just played at Hoops in Lebanese Pepsi LBL. In 13 games he had very impressive stats: 19.8ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.5apg and 1.8spg this season. Thomas also played that season for Vanoli Cremona in Italian Serie A where in 6 Pepsi LBL games he recorded 6.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.2apg and 1.2spg. In 2005 he was drafted by Yakama Sun Kings (CBA) as #4 pick overall. Thomas attended Univ.of Texas at El Paso and it will be his twelfth (!!!) season in pro basketball. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others his team made it to the Italian LNP Cup final in 2015. Thomas was also voted Eurobasket.com All-Serbian League Import Player of the Year back in 2012. He is quite experienced player. Thomas has played in seven different countries on three different continents (Europe, Latin America and of course North America). He has played previously professionally in France (Pau Lacq Orthez), Georgia (Vita Tbilisi), Philippines, Russia (Krasnie Krilya and Zenit), Italy (Banco di Srd, Enel Brindisi, Napoli J.News, Scandone Avellino and FCM Ferentino), Serbia (Crvena Zvezda) and Mexico (Halcones Rojos). It's very possible he may end his playing career at Mazatlan. Thomas could be described:
A great worker who brings a lot of energy on the court. Has great athletic skills and a team mentality that makes him loved by teammates and coaches. Needs to improve hie perimeter shooting, but can produce a lot of points in penetration and after grabbing an offensive rebound.
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