Koponen Signs in Italy

From the Finnish News Agency, translated:

Petteri Koponen has signed a four-year-contract with an Italian top league (Serie A) team, Virtus Bologna. This means that Koponen will not play in the NBA next season.
"This is a dream come true for me. I have signed a four year deal with Virtus Bologna, which includes a pretty good buy-out to NBA, that we were able to negogiate. Salary is as good as it would've been in the NBA", Koponen said.

After the two last seasons Koponen has been showing his skills with Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Summer League. However, the team has so many guards that he wasn't able to get a roster spot.

"Along with all the contract offers from Europe, many NBA teams were also interested, but Portland didn't want to let me go. The good part is that Portland still believes in me and that we can again meet in the future. In a way, it's bad that I couldn't have a bigger influence on these things. It's all business", Koponen said.

Philadelphia drafted Koponen as the 30th pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft, but Portland Trail Blazers acquired the rights for the player.


"Portland GM Kevin Pritchard saw moving to Europe as a better option than getting little playing time in the NBA and also playing perhaps in the D-league. On the other hand, my agent told me that more than ten NBA teams would've signed me, if I would've been able to leave", Koponen said.

In Bologna, Koponen will fight for playing time with Earl Boykins, who is an former NBA player. Boykins is only 5"5, so he's totally different type of player than Koponen, who is 6"5.
"The acquisition of Boykins tells a whole lot about how high the goals for the team are", Koponen said.

Bologna will try to win the Serie A championship the upcoming season, and they'll also participate in the FIBA Eurocup, which is the third most highly ranked international league in Europe after Euroleague and ULEB Eurocup.

Bologna has won the Italian championship three times, the last one in 2001, when the team also won the Euroleague and the Italian cup.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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