(photo credit: Joseph D. Robbins )
Two days after his worst Summer League performance, Israel's Omri Casspi had the best output of his short NBA career on Wednesday, although his Sacramento Kings fell for the fourth straight game, 105-89 to the Development League Select team.
Casspi, who finished in double figures with 10 points, added four rebounds, two assists and two steals on three for nine shooting, once again stuffing the stat sheet.
Casspi told The Jerusalem Post after the game that it was "going to take a while" for him to get his rhythm.
"It is a slow process, but we're going to take it step-by-step and I will be ready to go by the beginning of the season, I guarantee you," he said.
Despite shooting a low percentage from the field, the 2.03 meter small forward excelled during his 25 minutes of play, emphatically snatching rebounds out of the air, grabbing loose balls and hustling on both ends of the court.
After one play that resulted in the D-League Select squad being forced to call a timeout to avoid a jump ball situation that Casspi had created with his smothering defense, the 21-year-old was cheered by fans and team owners the Maloofs alike for his hustle.
Casspi was not afraid to get his hands dirty, and even required a jersey switch to number "52" after his original "18" jersey was torn almost completely off during a scrounge for the ball in the paint.
Still unsure whether or not he will play for the National Team this summer in the build up to September's EuroBasket championship in Poland, Casspi said that he is looking forward to training this Summer and working hard to be ready for camp.
For someone known in Israeli basketball circles as a hard-worker whose success has come as a result of a meticulous work ethic, it should be no surprise that Casspi will spend the rest of the time before training camp working out and playing, "a lot of five-on-five scrimmages," after a short visit home.
Overall Casspi was upbeat after the game, complimenting his fellow teammates and coaches as he explained the differences between European basketball and the NBA.
One main thing he has had to adjust to, is the lack of passing and teamwork which is much more prominent in Europe than here in the NBA, especially in a Summer League invented to highlight individual attributes.
"I finished with three assists and I led the team, it's crazy, I've never been in anything like that," he noted.
Although he was only given credit for two assists, the game high was three assists and highlights an adjustment Casspi will have to get used to.
Still, Casspi does not believe the transition will be so difficult once he gets over the self-described mental block that has him out of his rhythm.
As Omri Casspi's first Summer League comes to a close, his goal for the Summer is to work on cutting down his turnovers which are, "killing [him] right now," and continue to work on his rebounding.
The weight-training regimen he will embark on should help with the rebounding, and the scrimmages should help prepare Casspi for training camp and the faster-paced style of play.
This, coupled with the court being more spread out and charges being taken are the two major differences Casspi has seen between European and NBA basketball.
Luckily for Casspi, neither is a major roadblock that cannot be overcome with hard work.
In addition to looking forward to playing more and readying himself for the NBA style of play, Casspi is ready to settle in Sacramento, the place he will call home for at least the next two years.
Sacramento's Summer League schedule concludes on Friday with a match against the New York Knicks who lost their first two games against Memphis and Detroit.
Having lost all four games so far, the Kings will be hoping to at least salvage some pride against the franchise
Although it is still across the world from Israel, Casspi said he is grateful for the Jewish community in Sacramento.
"Rabbi Taff has helped me a lot. I am happy to be there with the great Jewish community. I'm happy to be in a position to have support around me," he said.
Omri Casspi is young and he is tough. He is a hard worker, with the desire to succeed and work ethic that is matched only by his potential.
He is a good ambassador for Israel who understands how big his current situation is for the people back home and cares about the Jewish community in Israel and abroad.
Soon, he will be an NBA player.
Joseph D. Robbins will be reporting live from Summer League in Las Vegas. Follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/josephdrobbins, and be sure to check his blog "Robbins Rants" at http://www.robbinsrants.com for live updates from Summer League.
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