1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Euro Pro Basketball Feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by spikechiquet, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Had this drop in my lap. He showed up via a phone call from his wife to me. Kind of a neat story about a "local kid does good"

    Any tips, changes, questions, things I should add, move?


    He’s only back for summer vacation.
    Then it’s back to his globetrotting ways.
    Caro graduate Josh Asselin (Class of 1997) is basking in the glow of his Most Valuable Player of the postseason honor after winning the award this past spring for his professional European basketball team, Ricoh Manresa - a town of nearly 70,000 near Barcelona, Spain.
    Fifth seeded Manresa defeated No. 2 seed Climalia Leon for the Liga Española de Baloncesto (LEB) title.
    Advancing to the title game, Manresa got a promotion as a team, as they will play next year in the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto (ACB) - Spain’s highest and most famous basketball league.
    “You are always trying to play for something,” the former University of Michigan (1998-2001) center said. “You either try to go up, or you try not fall down to the next level (of competition).”
    “(The MVP) was the icing on the cake.”

    ‘A roller coaster season’
    Ricoh Manresa was 12-22 in the 2005-06 season while playing in the ACB, finishing in 17th place, which bumped them down to the LEB.
    After starting the 2006-07season 8-12, things were looking bleak for a team that really spent the offseason readjusting it’s roster to make it back to the ACB.
    “They put a lot of money into this years team to get back to the 1st division,” Asselin said. “They had such high expectations, and we didn’t start out as well as they expected.”
    Manresa fired thier coach mid-season and Asselin said players were cut “freely”.
    “It’s like a puzzle, if you aren’t performing the function that they want they move on to the next guy,” he said. “We had a roller coaster of a season and in the end it panned out for us.
    “We finished really strong.”
    So strong that Manresa won 11 of its last 14 regular season games, then went a perfect 7-0 through two rounds of best-of-five series with Villa de Los Barrios in the first round and Ciudad de Huelva in the semifinals.
    He finished fifth in the league for the MVP regular season award and his 23 points and seven rebounds in the win over Climalia Leon (94-88) gave him the MVP for the playoffs.
    “I wanted to win and to move up,” he said. “To get the MVP was great, but the whole team provided me opportunities.”
    Asselin’s performance earned his the award, as the honor is not voted on.
    “It’s different there,” he said. “They have an evaluation system.
    “It’s takes all your numbers: shooting, points... and it gives you a total on how you are on the court.”
    In all, Asselin and his Ricoh Manresa team went 26-15 this past season.

    Globetrotting Basketball Vagabond
    It’s been five years since Asselin suited up in the United States and six since he wore the maize and blue of the Wolverines.
    Playing one year for the National Basketball Association’s development league in Roanoke, VA, Asselin has had stints in Venezuela, and Puerto Rico before playing for the Dominican Republic’s National Team.
    Last season, after three years playing for other teams in Spain’s LEB league, Asselin caught on with a French team for the playoffs before singing with Manresa this season.
    “I’ve been a basketball vagabond, that’s why I continue to do this,” he said with a laugh. “When my body tells me I can’t do this anymore, I will stop, but I still have a passion for the game.
    “It’s not really a job, it’s a game. I am fortunate enough to call this a job though. I am living dream, sucking it up and enjoying it.”
    So will this sojourn through Europe lead back to the States?
    “It’s always a goal to get to the best league you can possibly reach,” he said. “And the NBA is the Mecca, but for a 28-year old to get in is slight a possibility.
    “But, I am in the top league in Spain and it’s one of the best in Europe. That’s the best level I can reach (right now), so I am looking forward to playing there next year and staying there if I can for years to come.”

    Different levels of competition
    Pro sports are different in Europe than they are in the United States.
    Pro teams harvest the talent from young ages on up.
    Overall, the are nine leagues in Spain, with the ACB as the equivalent of the NBA.
    The LEB is the next step down, followed by the LEB-2.
    From there is five groups of the EBA and then the LFB as the starting ground.
    But what is a stark change compared to American basketball, the top two teams move up to the next league while the bottom two teams move down.
    That was the case with Manresa last year - as they finished at the bottom of the ACB in 2005-06 and now will move back up after finishing first in the playoffs this past season.
    Also, there are no high school sports in Spain. Instead children play for “cadet” teams of the pros.
    The teams consist of mostly European players, with a rule on only two American players allowed per roster.
    That rule does have a loophole though as passports play a key.
    “If a player has a passport, they can play as an American from another country,” Asselin - who owns a passport for the Dominican Republic - said.
    He is working on switching his passport to Spain, where he would be considered a National player, which could prolong his career.
    “With the two American rule, I could be a third American,” he said. “That would help me be in charge of how long I play.”

    Home for the summer
    Asselin arrived back in the Thumb June 6.
    For now, it’s summer vacation for the 6-11 center and his wife, Nava as they stay in Caseville for the next few weeks.
    “I like to come here to relax, and see family,” he said. “Come August, it’s back to work. I can’t complain though, it’s been such a dream to play a game and get paid.
    “I get to see the world, all over Spain, near Africa and my wife gets to travel with us. And the money is good.”
    And for once, the couple know where they are heading to come August.
    The last few years haven’t been that easy.
    Normally Americans don’t sign more than a one year contract. But with the league win, he signed a “1-plus-1 contract” - meaning if Manresa moved up to the ACB, he would get another year.
    “This is actually good,” he said. “I got the second year so it’s the first time that we are going back to the same spot.
    “We are familiar with the area outside Barcelona, it’s a real nice place, they are very big on basketball.”
    So much is the fan base, sometime he feels like he is right back in college.
    “The fans let you know if you aren’t playing well,” he said. “It’s like the Michigan/Michigan State rivalry in some regards.”
  2. Jones

    Jones Active Member


    Thanks for posting.

    I don't want to sound overly negative, but I think this story needs quite a bit of work.

    First off, there are quite a few typos, especially in the guy's quotes. You're going to have to clean those up.

    Now, as for the story itself, I think you spend way too much time -- especially high up -- on the small, muddy details of pro basketball in Spain. I think most of your readers will get bogged down in the first section especially -- too many numbers, brackets, and acronyms. And the lede isn't srong enough to push us through that.

    I'd rather read stories of the road -- you have a guy who's played all over the world, and you don't have a single anecdote about the guts of life as a globetrotter: culture shock, language barriers, new teammates, finding an apartment. Or how his wife copes with the insecurity and loneliness of life abroad.

    Not every sports story has to be about sports, I guess is what I'm trying to say. If you were writing about the NFL, say, for a hardcore football audience, then you might want to spend as much time as you did on the nitty gritty of the sport. But here, I'd say the vast majority of your audience doesn't care about Spanish basketball standings -- but they might care about a local guy who has been launched into this vagabond's life.

    If you open up with a scene from that life -- something funny, something heart-tugging -- and then jump into this guy's wanderings, it'd be a richer experience for your reader.

    And, as always, you want to show us these things, not tell us about them. A cliche, but it's true.

    Hope that helps. Again, I'm not trying to be too negative here, and I hope my post doesn't come off that way. You know how to report and how to write. I think it's just your initial "story sense" that needs a tune up.

    Thanks again for posting.
  3. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Thanks, yeah, it's a rough draft, and even looking at it quickly, I caught a few things.

    Thanks for the tips, unfortunetly, it was like talking to a wet noodle.

    I asked about culture shock, he said not really
    Asked about his wife, he said she stays home for the most part (in Michigan), but once he gets settled in, she then moves.
    Laguage barriers: He took two years of Spanish at UofM and is fluent, so he is set living in Spain.
    Teammates: a guy from UNC-Wilmington and another, older guy from Kansas, nothing he really touched on that stuck out.
    I do have a small bit about how the appartments can suck or the cars he gets is too small, I'll try to work that in...

    Like I said, this was thrown at me via a call, he showed up. It's not like I was prepared, and had to do some digging to even know what this league was about. Wikipedia doesn't have the greatest info and all the good sites are in Spanish.

    Thanks for the tips, I still have a while before I go to print with it (next Weds.), and I will readily admit that I do not write features well. I'm waaaay to analitical and non-emontional (and non-romantic according to my wife) to be good at them. But I'm working on it.

    The basis of the story is that he is home. He even told me that's why his wife wanted it done. So people don't keep asking him where and what he has been up too. This is Smalltown, USA, the biggest city is 5,000 people and the county is only 55,000, not that I am downplaying the need for a compelling story. I'm just trying to explain that a buts and bolts sense was what I was getting too, with a featurish flair. (does that make sense?)

    Again thanks, or um, muchos gracias! LOL
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page