At Promitheas Patras, Chris Coffey has proven to be the living embodiment of workrate. That could make the difference for them in the Basketball Champions League
There are small school players and then there’s Chris Coffey. His alma mater of Georgetown College has fewer than 1,600 students at any given time. There is some basketball heritage there, most notably 1972 Olympian Kenny Davis, but it’s not the obvious place to start a journey like Coffey’s.
Absolutely nobody in Patras, Greece, cares about how Coffey got started. They’re just delighted he’s playing in their city right now.
Who even is this guy
Chris Coffey doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. That’s not entirely true. He doesn’t have an English language Wikipedia page. There is a page for him in Italian, the entirety of which translates as “Chris Coffey (July 8, 1997) is an American basketball player.”
There’s also one in Spanish but you have to scroll down a bit to find it on Google. It has more detail but it also has the wrong club history for him.
Chris Coffey has never played for any club in Spain or Italy. The man should be a footnote of a footnote in basketball. He played college basketball at the NAIA level, excelling with a national championship and winning NAIA Player of the Year in 2020. Still, that’s more associated with plucky underdogs. It’s not where you expect difference makers at the next level to emerge.
Yet anyone who has watched Promitheas Patras play this season in the Basketball Champions League can’t help but be captivated by this centre.
Scoring is secondary
Dennis Rodman is the first name that comes to mind when you think of players for whom rebounds mattered more than points. Get the boards and work from there. It’s a simple approach but a difficult one to make exciting.
If you’ve watched Promitheas Patras this season, you’ll have found ways to get excited by the way Chris Coffey grabs boards. I was on the call for their Tuesday night win over Hapoel Holon in the Basketball Champions League. Over and over again I kept on going back to one word to describe Coffey: workrate.
It’s almost like he considers taking a shot a form of cheating. Getting passed the ball and being presented with an opportunity? No, that’s not a 50/50 battle in the true sense. Coffey plays with a verve that demands every time he has an opportunity to touch the ball, it must be a contest. Present him an opponent, maybe two or three, and give him the fight he desires.
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A shining example
The big highlight from Coffey that was shared around social media by the Basketball Champions League after Tuesday’s win was a block on Netanel Artzi. It was a really good block but I felt for the folks having to cut the highlights. To truly understand the impact of Chris Coffey for Promitheas, it was his plays that didn’t necessarily lead to anything that made him stand apart.
There were four offensive rebounds by Coffey in the win. Each of them came with the type of body sacrifice that almost caught his teammates off guard. It’s worth noting that Promitheas Patras have the January MVP Hunter Hale in their ranks, alongside serious performers in Anthony Cowan Jr and Cameron Reynolds. These men, these quality ballers, were somewhat in awe of what their big man was doing.
That ferocious workrate from Coffey was vital to getting Promitheas Patras over the line. Tuesday’s clash was a grind it out affair, one for the purists, and not the easiest environment for anyone to cook.
Coffey, as the beverage so often does, shook men from their slumber. Hale and Reynolds, who both struggled to impact the game in the first half, found their rhythm working off him. The Greeks took the vital win and Coffey another step forward.
A chance to regroup
That victory over Hapoel Holon has put Promitheas Patras, and Chris Coffey, in a useful position. There’s a break in the Basketball Champions League now for national cups and internationals.
With a 2-1 record in the group, the side knows that a win over Holon in the return game would almost certainly be enough on its own to book their passage to the quarter finals. It’s far from a sure thing but it at least enables them to control their destiny. In the interim, they can focus more on domestic matters.
The Greek Cup is next, with a quarter final against Panionios awaits. Once that duty is done, there’ll be a rest for most of the roster with the international break before a rapid and thrilling conclusion to the Round of 16 in their primary target for the season. A European title would be extraordinary for Promitheas Patras, even making the playoffs would be an achievement. Fortunately for them, they have a man familiar with the extraordinary.
A solid launchpad
The value of Chris Coffey will have been obvious to anyone watching the Basketball Champions League this season. He doesn’t need a lot of the ball, hardly any, to make an impact that can change the course of a game.
The workrate will never be an issue and he clearly has the athletic talent to aid anyone. With him turning 27 in July, he still hasn’t hit the peak of his powers. Through time in Latvia with Ventspils, MBC in the Bundesliga in Germany, and a stint at Kolossus before joining his current side, Coffey has built up a constantly developing resume.
It’s going to make him alluring to quite a few coaches and clubs. His current home will naturally want to keep him but there will be demand. That’s quite the position to be in for a man who was less than an afterthought on the college scene when he began that journey. In the humble surroundings of NAIA basketball, Chris Coffey made the sport take notice of him. In the Basketball Champions League, everyone is well aware of who he is.