Don’t look now, but the balance of power in Finland’s top league may have shifted a bit with the arrival of Corey Belser from Aris Thessaloniki to the excellently named Honka Espoo Playboys of Finland’s Korisliiga.
Belser first appeared on international scouts’ radar in his days playing for the University of San Diego, culminating in College Insider‘s NCAA Defensive Player of the Year nod for 2006. Despite such a reputation, however, Belser went undrafted by NBA teams that year after Summer League play and instead jumped the pond to join Olympia Larissa.
Belser played three seasons for Larissa, opening with an Honorable Mention for the All-Greece Team and culminating in an average line of 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16 games.
(Incidentally, here’s a representative performance by the man, going for 24 points and 10 rebounds against Panionios:
Belser parlayed this run into a contract with Aris Thessaloniki, where … his results were not so impressive: In two Euroleague games, for example, he managed but five rebounds and exactly zero points in 13 minutes coming wayyyyyyyyyy off the bench. Belser was released last week…
…and immediately snapped up by the Playboys after Monte Cummings went down for up to five weeks thanks to a knee injury.
Does Belser still have it, despite a potentially demoralizing stint with Aris? You bet: All Belser did for Espoo was sign a contract, change clothes, get on the court and go for a sick 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting (including 4-for-8 from three-point range) and 7-of-8 on free throws. O, and the Playboys snapped a four-game losing streak by thrashing last-place Karhu Kauhajoen, 101-82.
Playboys fans are certainly hoping Belser helps change the 2006 champs’ fortunes. With the win over Karhu, Honka has righted its record at .500, sitting in a woeful seventh place in the Korisliiga at 6-6.
Upon signing Belser through the season, Honka CEO Mika Sohlberg stated that “An average of 10 points per game in the Greek league equals 20 in Finland.” The new import certainly proved Sohlberg mathematically correct in his debut, and it’ll be interesting to see just how far Belser can carry this team with three-quarters of the Korisliiga season gone.
Even more scintillating might be Belser’s 2010 off-season. How much does 25 Finnish points and four steals per game translate into, say, German?