For those who can't get enough news about Petteri Koponen, here's the latest update from our Finnish friend!
Honka advances to Finnish league finals; Koponen fractures right hand thumb, will miss the remaining games?
A quick look at Finnish League semifinal series between Honka Playboys and Team Lappeenranta and an update of Portland Trailblazers point guard candidate Petteri Koponen. Enjoy.
Game 1: Team Lappeenranta - Honka Playboys 67-92 (15-30, 30-47, 49-75)
Game: Finnish league regular season winner Team Lappeenranta had to enter the game with four starters (!) out from the line-up with high fever and lung infection.
has played throughout the season with mostly six guys, so it was clear from the first quarter that Honka would cruise to an easy victory. Lappeenranta Former Ohio Stateopening power forward Ivan Harris scored 22 and 's third point guard Jouko Järvinen had 17 but their effort just wasn't enough to stop Honka. Coach Mihailo Pavicevic gave plenty of minutes to ten players and the best player on court was clearly Petteri Koponen, who had 25 points, 9 assists and 5 steals in just little over 28 minutes. Koponen hit big shots, found his teammates easily and harassed Lappeenranta 's pg Järvinen to Finnish playoff record, 12 turnovers. Lappeenranta
P.Koponen: Min 28 Fg 10-15 (3p 5-8) Pts 25 Reb 2 As 9 St 5 Pf 1
: I.Harris 22/2, J.Järvinen 17/7/4as/12to, A.Ulander 12/8. Lappeenranta
Honka: P.Koponen 25/2/9as/5st, J.Matinen 18/5, B.Perkins 14/6.
Game 2: Honka Playboys - Team
Lappeenranta81-84 (15-20, 36-42, 54-65)
Game: With four starters still suffering from fever,
Lappeenrantamanaged to get a full 12-man roster to for game 2. Even though afore-mentioned players looked like extras from "Day of the Dead", they managed to shatter Honka's confidence and absolutely deny Honka's forwards from shooting the ball. Honka's guard duo, Petteri Koponen and Akeem Scott, were forced to take majority of team's shots. Koponen and Scott couldn't get the ball moving at all and it seemed that other guys lost their will to play when guards dribbled the ball at least 20 seconds in each possession. Meanwhile, Espoo hit big threes and team's guard duo Juha Sten-Petri Virtanen found power forward Adrian Henning from the low post time after time. Lappeenranta extended the lead to 15 points in the 4th quarter, but then Koponen and Honka forward Jukka Matinen began to drain desperation threes. Finally, the time was on Lappeenranta Lappeenranta's side and tied the series. Lappeenranta
P.Koponen: Min 37 Fg 8-16 (3p 4-8) Pts 20 Reb 3 As 3 St 1 To 3 Pf 4
Honka: A.Scott 20/5/4st, P.Koponen 20/3/3as, B.Perkins 13/11/3as/4bl.
: A.Henning 22/6, I.Harris 20/3, J.Sten 12/4/3as. Lappeenranta
Game 3: Team Lappeenranta - Honka Playboys 57-77 (22-20, 37-37, 46-62)
started the game with high energy and Honka was barely able to hang in there in the first quarter with Koponen scoring eight points. Koponen and Akeem Scott pressured Lappeenranta Lappeenranta's guard duo Petri Virtanen-Juha Sten full court throughout the game trying to put 's offence off balance. In the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Koponen twisted his right hand thumb going up against Petri Virtanen which lead to four almost consecutive turnovers for him. Just after halftime Honka's guard pressure began to wear out Lappeenranta and Honka won the 3rd quarter 25-9. Koponen struggled with his thumb and missed all but one of his shots in the second half, but got the ball moving easily and finished with eight assists and four steals. Lappeenranta began to give up in the fourth quarter and both teams entered their substitute players with just under five minutes left in the game. Lappeenranta
P.Koponen: Min 37 Fg 4-12 (3p 2-8) Pts 10 Reb 3 As 8 St 4 To 5 Pf 1
Honka: K.Muurinen 14/8/3st, J.Matinen 12/8, M.Williams 12/5.
Lappeenranta: P.Virtanen 12/3, J.Järvinen 11/4, P.Riihelä 10/7.
Game 4: Honka Playboys - Team
Lappeenranta81-61 (29-8, 50-25, 66-44)
thought they would be cruising to an easy victory with Koponen sidelined, but Honka started the game with high energy. Honka's substitute PG Akeem Scott nailed 15 points early on with Honka leading 16-3 and 29-5 in the first quarter. Honka's starting five shared the ball, hit easy shots, defended with fury and just didn't give Lappeenranta any chance to fight for the win. Lappeenranta didn't get any closer than 17 points in the second half and Honka celebrated second straight trip to finals. Lappeenranta
Honka: A.Scott 25/5/5as/7to, K.Muurinen 14/9, B.Perkins 13/6/3as/3bl.
: A.Henning 16/5/5as, J.Sten 15/1/5st, I.Harris 9/5. Lappeenranta
Koponen fractured his right hand thumb in the 2nd quarter of semifinal game between Honka and Team Lappeenranta. The fracture line is straight above thumb-base, but thumb joint is unharmed. Koponen's thumb has been sustained with fibreglass cast and its recovery prediction is good. It is possible that Koponen could play in the finals with special prop but it could take a couple of weeks for the thumb to fully heal. Koponen played the second half of game 3 through pain with his thumb taped.
Quotes about the injury:
"He will absolutely not play in the finals. We won't risk his career and force him to play. It could just make his injury worse." -Honka coach Mihailo Pavicevic
"I wouldn't be surprised if he suited up after the first game. Petsku got a lot of heart." -Honka substitute point guard Akeem Scott
"The way guys played (in the game 4), there would be no need for me to get out there and fumble!" -Koponen's comment with a laughter in a TV interview
P.S. A late addition:
If Petteri Koponen's thumb keeps him sidelined from the 2008 Finnish league finals, this will be his stat line from the 2008 playoffs. In comparison, I have also listed his averages from 2007 playoffs. As you can see, his shooting accuracy has developed quite a lot during this last year and he averages 0,1 turnovers less than a year ago even though he has played 5,5 more minutes a game in this year's playoffs. He has also more than doubled his assist average and scores more than five more points a game. You can also notice that he has been defensively stable as well; foul troubles have not been an issue for him in the playoffs.
The only clear recession from last year's playoffs is that Petteri hasn't gotten to the free throw line nearly as often as last year. In three semi-final games Petteri didn't have one single free throw attempt, even though he probably was the leader of and-ones in the regular season.
Petteri Koponen, playoff statistics 2008
Total Playoffs '08 Playoffs '07
Games 6 11
Games started 6 11
Minutes 216 36,0 30,5
2pt pct 19 / 33 57,6% 52,7%
3pt pct 20 / 41 48,9% 34,1%
1pt pct 10 / 13 76,9% 88,4%
Points 108 18,0 12,8
Rebounds 15 2,5 1,9
Assists 31 5,2 2,3
Steals 14 2,3 1,5
Blocks 0 0,0 0,0
Turnovers 18 3,0 3,1
Personal fouls 9 1,5 3,5