Europe athletes of the week
Last week: Taylor, 17, a senior who, in his first year of organized football, landed on last season’s All-Europe team, scored 22 points on Friday and 26 Saturday in leading the Wildcats to a nonconference sweep at Aviano. Saturday’s total included a game-winning free throw in the closing seconds in a 53-52 Naples victory.
According to Naples coach Richard Elliott, there is much more to Taylor’s game than last-second heroics.
“B.J. is quick on defense, moves very well with the ball and gets the ball to his teammates extraordinarily well,” Elliott wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. “He shoots when he has the opportunity, and no one loves to play basketball more than he.”
Taylor’s scoring total Saturday was a season high for the talented guard, who got to play a full game for the first time this season in Friday’s 65-50 victory. In their first four games, the Wildcats tried to curtail their scoring to avoid halting the game because of the courtesy rule. Even so, Naples saw the scorekeeping end early in all those games when they reached a 40-point margin.
Last week: Gilbert, 16, a junior guard, resumed her place in the spotlight in her first outings of 2007, singlehandedly outscoring visiting Milan in Vicenza’s 57-28, 48-27 weekend sweep. She scored 37 points Friday and 35 Saturday.
“She’s 5-5, but she plays far taller,” Vicenza coach Garrett Barton said by telephone Tuesday of his star, who’s averaging 34 points per game. “Milan essentially played a 2-3 zone and sent two people out to meet her at the top of the key to try to slow her down. Chakeira usually drove past them.”
Gilbert’s production was particularly important last weekend, because Vicenza (5-1 overall and 3-0 in league play) suited up just five players each day.
“It’s basically her and the supporting cast,” said Barton, whose sixth player was nursing an injured ankle. “I’d hate to see where we’d be without her.”
Barton said Gilbert, who was Stars and Stripes player of the week for a season-high 41-point effort at American Overseas School of Rome on Dec. 3, brings the ball upcourt for his team and always finds the open player as well as taking the scoring load.
“She continues to play at a high level,” he said.
— Selected by Stars and Stripes staff