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20.07.2007 17:39

NBA-Barša: From Ruland to Ilyasova

Gustau Galvache

Ersan Ilyasova has become the first player to join FC Barcelona's basketball team from the NBA since Jeff Ruland arrived in the 1980's.

Ruland moved to Barša at the start of the 1980/81 campaign to work under coach Antoni Serra. The fact that a player who was the number 25 draft pick for Golden State had chosen to play in Europe during that time created a whirlwind of expectation.

The North American star played for the Blaugrana for one year before returning to the NBA, where he went on to enjoy further success and appear in the All-Star Game in 1983. Having retired as a player, Ruland now coaches the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, who are in the NBA Development League. It was in that league that Ilyasova enjoyed his first season in the United States with Tulsa.

Opening the door

ilyasova_nba.jpgThe Ruland transfer opened the door for many players to acquire experience in Europe and then show their quality in the world's best league. One player that stood out for Barša was David Wood, who used the Blaugrana as a springboard to success in the States, as he went on to play for Houston, San Antoni and Detroit before ending his career alongside Ilyasova at the Milwaukee Bucks.

Massenburg and Elson

massenburg_nba1.jpgAnother case involved Tony Massenurg, who played for FC Barcelona before heading back to his homeland and played for the San Antonio Spurs, where he won the championship, paying in the same team as another former Barša player, Francisco Elson.

After playing for the Catalan outfit, Elson spent three seasons with the Denver Nuggets, where he won the chanmpionship in his final year alongside Massemburg, before leaving for the Spurs. Following hot on his heels was forward-centre Anderson Varejao, who has carved out a strong since leaving Barša for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

saras_nba.jpgOne of the last players to move from FC Barcelona to the NBA successfully is Sanrunas Jasikevicius. The Lithuanian born point guard studied in Maryland before returning to Lithuania. After several successful seasons with Barša and Maccabi Tel Aviv he joined the Indiana Pacers in 2005 and then joined the Golden State Warriors this summer.

Youth successes

The Barša youth system has showed that it can produce NBA-worthy players as Pau Gasol's incredible success with Memphis Grizzlies proves. The Catalan was nominated for Rookie of the Year and played in the All-Star game. Juan Carlos Navarro is the next product to try his luck in the States as he begins the search for a team after leaving the Blaugrana at the end of last season.
NBA-Barša: From Ruland to Ilyasova
Number 19
Turkish star Ersan Ilyasova will wear the number 19 shirt at AXA FC Barcelona next season, the same number that Arturas Karnisovas wore during his time at the club. The Lithuanian player enjoyed two spells with Barša and now works with the NBA in welcoming European players to the league.

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