The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
Brose Bamberg advanced to the Basketball Champions League Final Four and they did it by eliminating AEK, the reigning champions. It was a strong team effort during the whole season but all of it wouldn’t be possible without Tyrese Rice.
Rice has been the German team’s leading scorer banking 16.6 points per game. That number puts him at the fourth spot league-wise but among the Top 10 BCL scorers this season, Rice is the only one whose team reached the Final Four.
The 31-year-old has been putting on shows week after week but in the end, all he cares about is winning as he said in an interview for BCL website after grabbing the Round of 16 MVP honor: “In the end, it’s all about the win. It doesn’t matter how many points you scored as an individual or any of that, if you don’t win the game, all that other stuff doesn’t matter in my eyes. People always bring up the game I had for Boston College against Carolina when I had 46 points or whatever, but we lost. I would rather have 10 points and win the game than 25 and lose. That’s just my approach. So when they spoke to me after the game, they kept wanting me to talk about having scored 32 points and I said, ‘Look, we won the game.’ If I’d had 3 points and 2 assists and we’d won the game, I’d have been just as happy to advance. It’s all about winning. All the individual stuff comes after you win.”
The above-mentioned MVP honor came after Rice nailed a total of 52 points in the two games against Banvit, both won by Bamberg. Rice is an excellent scorer but what matters more, a lot of his points come in the crunch time of the most important games which is why he got the nickname “King in the Fourth”. Such was the case throughout the season and he was also the one to nail the dagger against AEK, the floater which sent his squad to the Final Four.
A bad start and giving Europe one more chance
Rice clearly has ‘ice in his veins’ and he mentioned on an occasion that he believes it was the crowded high school and college games that best prepared him for it. Tyrese was attending the Boston College and had a key role in the team throughout all four years, receiving the All-ACC honors multiple times.
He went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft and decided to cross the ocean and move to Europe. But it wasn’t easy at all. Rice signed in Greece with Panionios which had financial issues at that moment and after a problematic season, he became very skeptical about Europe in general.
However, after the Summer League with Utah and Sacramento, Rice gave Europe one more chance and moved to Germany joining the Artland Dragons. This time around, he could fully focus on basketball and he enjoyed it: “I didn’t know anything about European basketball until I got to Europe and my first year in Greece was probably my most difficult year that I’ve had in Europe. There were payment problems, a lot of stuff going on and it kind of made me second-guess if I wanted to even come back and play in Europe, fearing it might be like that every country. But going to Germany after that, being in a small town where I had nothing really to do except play basketball, work out, watch games, that molded me into being a real student of the game.”
He then moved to Lithuania for a year, playing with Lietuvos Rytas gaining experience in EuroCup as well as LKL and VTB Leagues before coming back to Germany and joining Bayern Munich for a season. After that, it was time for the ‘Big Bang’.
Winning it all
In summer 2013, Rice signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv and with them went all the way to the top. He led Maccabi to the EuroLeague trophy that season and grabbed the Final Four MVP title along the way. In the semifinal game vs. CSKA, he scored the game-winner with 5.5 seconds left on the clock and then, in the Final against Real Madrid, he nailed 26 points pushing his team to an overtime win and the trophy. That season, Maccabi also won the Israeli League and both Israeli Cups.
Rice had an amazing year in Israel but moved to Khimki and immediately put on a dominant season once again. He was the 2014-15 EuroCup MVP and EuroCup Finals MVP as he led the Russian team to the trophy. He spent one more season with Khimki and then moved on to Spain joining Barcelona.
Rice was having a good individual season but Barca didn’t have much success. In fact, they were having one of the worst season result-wise in a decade. Rice was under a two-year contract with the Spaniards but in the second season, he didn’t get a chance in the active roster at all.
After a while, Rice and Barcelona agreed to part ways and he went to China signing with Shenzhen Leopards as a replacement for Keith Langford. He was averaging career-high 18.9 points in China over 18 games after which he returned to Germany for the third time in his career and joined his current team, Brose Bamberg.
Rice has been out of European crowd’s view for a while but he’s back and he has been putting on a show. He tends to take over the stage in the Finals and nothing points to it being any different with the BCL Final Four…