By Reynaldo Dorset
Tribune Sports Reporter
The Bahamian professional basketball players across the various leagues in Europe have achieved season highs in early play for their new clubs.
In the Bulgarian National Basketball Association, Zane Knowles was the dominant CSKA Sofia Reds with their narrow 70-68 road win over Shumen on Saturday night.
Knowles finished with 17 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and three restricted shots. Shoot 6-9 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line.
The Reds moved to 1-1 after losing the opening night to Spartak Pleven, 91-65.
Knowles finished 14 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
The Reds were promoted to the NBL after winning the BBL, Group A title last season and will play in elite Bulgarian basketball for the first time after a 13-year hiatus.
Knowles returned from injury last season to wrap up the year with Levski Sofia and help the team reach the NFL semi-finals.
In five regular season games, he averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Lachan Higgs scored a season-high 19 points to lead Hozono Global Jays to a 83-75 victory over former club Bimbibri in the Spanish first division Femenina Endesa.
She shot 3-5 from outside the arc, 4-5 from the free throw line and also added five passes in 31 minutes.
The third-year goalkeeper is Jairus’ early scoring leader in her first season with the club, averaging 10.7 points per game.
Higgs opened the season with nine points and five rebounds in her team’s 64-51 win over Cady La Seu. She concluded last season in La Liga Femenina Endesa with Lointek Gernika Bizkaia. In 25 games, she has averaged 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game.
Gires coach Lucas Fernandez said he has high expectations for the impact Higgs will have on the club in the 2022-23 season.
“Lachan Higgs is a player who, given her humility and effort, has a great ability to make advantages from her individual skills, with the ability to finish things off, assisting, and great physical abilities in defence,” he said.
“She’s a player who from the start showed us a lot of enthusiasm to join our team and I’m sure she will work hard to give us the best version of her.”
Several players in France made their debut of the season.
It was a successful debut for Travis Munnings in his promotion to the French ProB League with the Boulazac Basketball Dordogne basketball club. He finished with five points and three rebounds in an 82-75 win over Lille Metropole in the opening game.
The Munnings averaged 10.6 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in the pre-season Leaders Cup.
Last season, Polazac finished 13th in the league standings at 13-19. The front office was optimistic about the impact Munnings expects to have.
“Munnings is a very versatile little striker. He is able to develop and play as a shooting goalkeeper but also a strength forward.
“It will bring scale to the team,” they said in a team press release.
“Mooning is an athlete because of his body. He plays on both sides of the ball with great intensity and he knows how to adapt and put himself at the service of his team.”
Munnings previously played in France when he made his debut with La Rochelle Stade Rochelais of the French NM1 League. He averaged 17.5 points, eight rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in his short stint with the club.
Willis Mackie also made his regular season debut with Lyon in the French National Men’s League 1.
He finished with 11 points, a three-time high, two rebounds and two assists in his team’s 87-84 win over Kaysersberg.
Mackie joined the club as a medical transfer for the next three months.
“His arrival will make up for the prolonged absence of our American player, Michael Creon,” the club said about Mackie’s signing. “So his joining the Lyon team in the next few months is a high-quality boost.”
Mackie spent last season with another NM1 club, Mulhouse Baskett Agglomeration.
In 33 games, the Year 4 striker averaged 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on 62 percent of shots from the field and 39 percent of three-point range.
Also in the NM1 League, Davis and Fendi Challans Basket ended a short two-game slip with two back-to-back wins.
He finished the season with 16 points and six rebounds in an 81-77 win over Tarbe Lord and added eight points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes off the bench last night in an 81-77 win over Royle.
The sophomore has averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in five games so far.
NM1 is a third-class division of the professional level in France. The top two teams from each season of the competition are promoted to LNB Pro B, the French second division
Kentwan Smith had a great scoring effort and nearly doubled his debut with the Svendborg Rabbits of the Basketligaen – the country’s top division.
Smith scored 19 points and picked up nine rebounds – both the highest on the team – in his team’s 78-76 loss to Fireloose. Smith fired 8-13 from the field, including 3-4 from three-point range.
Smith spent the last two seasons with Garonne ASPTT in the French NM2 League.
In 23 games, he averaged 15.4 points per game. The previous season, he averaged 12.9 points per game and Garonne finished the regular season with the second-best record in the league.
In addition to Denmark and France, Smith’s professional career has taken him to Finland, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.