While here in Australia we can see the Perth Wildcats looking to finish top of the ladder once again, Andrew Ogilvy inching closer and closer to leagues MVP and unfortunately another Sydney Kings roller coaster season quite easily, one of our countries finest point guards is making a name for himself overseas with little acknowledgement from the media down under.
It seems only the most hardcore basketball tragic has noticed the fantastic numbers Daniel Dillon has been dropping in places like Gdynia, Wrocław, Włocławek and many other former communist countries most of us would struggle to say.
Dillon is playing for PGE Turów which participates in both the Polish basketball league and the Eurochallenge (Europe’s third-tier basketball competition). The Eurochallenge is extremely competitive with former NBA like Daequan Cook, Primo Brezec and Roko Ukic leading some of the most successful teams in the league.
It’s here Dillon has been honing his game, not only on the defensive end, something he specialised in during his NBL stints (he is currently third in steals in the Euro Challenge) but also on his offensive game.
“Right now I’m just focusing on winning. In my earlier years I was playing more of a defensive roll. Now that I’m playing as an import I have to carry more of a scoring load as well as be able to create for others” said Dillon while travelling between games.
While his scoring ability may have been questioned during Dillon’s time in the NBL in Melbourne and Cairns, it certainly isn’t in Poland where the crafty guard is leading his team in scoring (currently 15 point per game).
“My team was in EuroLeague last year but they had some financial problems which forced them down a level. Previously they’ve played at high levels and even though they’ve dropped down this year there are still high expectations from players, staff and fans.”
Europe has become a lot less popular as a basketball destination for Australian players than it was five years ago. European Dollars, uneven team salaries and the chance that teams may end up not even paying you at all being no doubt some of the reasons Australian’s are more likely to play in Australia or the USA right now.
“It’s hard to compare to NBL because every team has different budgets and different quality of players. One team might have a $1 million budget while another might have multiple NBA level players on the team, all being paid $1 million for the year. The difference between the best teams and the worst teams in the league is ridiculous, where the NBL is a much more competitive league as a whole”.
While the Australia National team is and has always been Dillon’s ultimate goal, right now he feels the European leagues are his best chance to develop as a player and hopefully nudge some firmly established players out of the Boomers roster.
“I would love to play for the Boomers, but there’s a lot of quality guys who have solidified their spot on that team. I’m just trying to keep improving my game in order to become the best player I can be.”
Some recent dominant performances include a 26 point, 5 rebounds, 5 assist effort against Slask Wroclaw as well as a 23 point, 2 rebound, 2 assists and 3 steals display against Avtodor, it won’t be long before NBL team’s will have to start thinking about if they should look to make room for another quality home grown point guard.
“I had some small talks at the start of this NBL season but nothing concrete. I knew I was coming back to Europe, but I was just unsure of where at that time.”
“Of course I want to come back to Australia. It’s the best country in the world! But I can come back whenever I want because it’s my home… right now I’m focusing on my career.”
Daniel Dillon hasn’t been seen by NBL coaches for a long time, but it’s clear he will be a very important piece to any team which reaches out to him this upcoming off season.