Monday, April 19, 2010

A European Championship for Kelati and Valencia.

     Just a few months ago, fans of Eritrean born Thomas Kelati overwhelmingly showed their happiness as he was selected to play for the NBA world champions the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas made the first two cuts but eventually got released by the Lakers. He still to this day continues to be the only Eritrean player to play for an NBA team.  Once he was waived by the lakers, he immediately signed with a strong European team that needed a boost to win a championship. The team located on the beautiful coast of Spain in Valencia is known by its sponsor Power Electronics. It was not going to be easy for Kelati to start on an already established team, however he knew his role and kept working hard to contribute to the team. In the end the fruit of his labor helped his team win the coveted European Championship.

POWER ELECTRONICS VALENCIA won the EUROCUP championship for the second time in club history on Sunday April 18th, 2010.  It beat ALBA BERLIN 67-44 in the title game in Vitoria, Spain.  Valencia, who won the first championship in 2003, set a new record by allowing only 22 points in both halves, a great defensive accomplishment especially against a strong team like Alba of Berlin.
With a big home field advantage, Valencia used outstanding defense to control the tempo of the game long before the final buzzer and denied Alba the chance to win its first European club title since 1995. Eritrean-American THOMAS KELATI made 13 points and had 5 rebounds to contribute in a big way as a second leading scorer for his team and the whole game.

Kelati was deadly as usual from downtown with his shooting to give Valencia a 19-10 lead early in the second quarter. The German team tried to make a comeback but Kelati and his teammates kept the score at 36-22 during half time breaking a record for allowing the least amount of points in a championship game.  

Valencia kept Alba-Berlin to just 22 points in the second half as well as they won the game by the score of 67-44. Just the day before in the semi-finals Thomas had 14 points to help his team advance to the championship game. Thomas is a hardworking team player that an NBA team can benefit from and hopefully this year he will get a shot at making it to the NBA.  As European basketball grows he also has secured his professional career by showing that he is a great shooter and will always be welcome in Europe. Infact Valencia and his former team Unicaja are two top-notch teams that he has been very happy to play for.

As a new player coming into a new team Thomas had only a couple of months to adjust to the style of play but he knew coming in to Valencia that his role was to help his team win a championship. Once he got his groove Thomas was contributing heavily to his team. Whether he plays in the NBA or the EURO league Thomas will go down in history as a solid athlete and a good role model to all youth. As far as Eritrean youth they can learn so much from him and become disciplined to make it to the professional level by working hard. Congratulations to Thomas on his championship victory with Power Electronics Valencia and good luck in the year to come.

For Eri-International sports blog

Mike Seium


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