Norris Cole wasted no time in establishing himself as one of the Basketball Champions League’s most exciting players.
In one of many terrific season-opening games, Cole provided much of the impetus for Sidigas Avellino in their 100-93 triumph at Nizhny Novgorod, a contest that went to two overtimes.
Cole showed his terrific all-round game, pouring in 34 points with an assortment of drives, jumpers and shots from behind the arc.
The point guard had 7 assists, including one that set up Keifer Sykes’s go-ahead layup in the second overtime that snapped a 92-92 tie. Cole also had 5 rebounds and a couple of steals. It all added up to a +28 efficiency rating.
“I was taking what the defense gave me and being aggressive early,” Cole said in this week’s Basketball Champions League podcast.
“When long range shots fall early for me, that normally means I’m going to have a successful game. I made my first couple of threes and from there on, it kind of changed how they wanted to defend me and the team.
“So it opened up a lot of other angles for me to score and provide passes for my teammates.”
The individual accolades are nice, but what drives a player like Cole are the wins. To get one on the road, in Russia and on the very first night of the Regular Season, was huge.
“Getting the win was most important,” he said. “It was a tough game, a competitive game.”
One of the more eye-opening stats for Cole was his whopping 46 minutes and 13 seconds on the court.”I was definitely tired,” he said.
“I’m in good shape, our team is in good shape with it being this early in the season. I believe playing a game like that early is good for us, it helps us get to where we need to be conditioning wise.
“Early in the season you are fresh from pre-season and you’re trying to work your way into mid-season form. Playing a game like that definitely fast-tracks us to get to that mid-season form quickly.”
Cole will have other big games this season. He’ll probably contend for the weekly MVP honor, too. What remains to be seen is how Sidigas Avellino, a team in the previous two editions of the Basketball Champions League, perform.
They have had big wins in the past but have yet to go deep into the post-season. For Cole, it’s far too early to make any predictions.
“You never know who you are until you truly go through that adversity,” Cole said. “It’s really early in the season right now but the more tough games that we play, especially tough games like against Nizhny, we’ll have a better understanding of what we can do.”
The ideal five of Gameday 1 also includes Francisco Cruz (Montakit Fuenlabrada), Kevin Punter (Segafredo Virtus Bologna), Robin Benzing (Besiktas Sompo Japan) and Ali Traoré (SIG Strasbourg).
Role: Shooting Guard
Date of birth: 13/10/1988
Nationality: United States