Sixers haven't had much of an international flavor

Posted: July 03, 2007

International players with the 76ers?

The best: Todd MacCulloch, even if he was only from just across the border in Canada. He played 161 games from 1999-2000 to '02-03 before being forced to retire because of a medical condition.

The worst: Efthimios Rentzias, a Greek who shot 33.9 percent and averaged 1.5 points in 35 forgettable appearances in 2002-03. He was waived despite having two additional guaranteed seasons left on his contract, and never played in the NBA again.

In name only: Finnish guard Petteri Koponen, drafted last week for delivery to Portland, and Ukrainian center Kyrylo Fesenko, drafted for delivery to Utah, both to be stashed overseas by their respective teams.

Most recent near-miss: Yi Jianlian, the 6-11 Chinese forward taken No. 6 by Milwaukee. The Sixers tried hard to move up to select him. The Chinese federation would like to see him in a city with a larger Chinese community. If this turns into a standoff with the Bucks, the Sixers likely will be among the suitors.

Here now: Edin Bavcic, a 6-10 forward from Bosnia, drafted No. 56 (five from the bottom) last year, then remained to play in his homeland's league.

Bavcic, 23, is still a few rungs shy of the NBA, but he was named an all-star in the Adriatic League and his Bosnian team reached the finals of the championship series; he is likely to move to a more competitive overseas league, possibly in Spain or Italy. He is back for a second appearance with the Sixers' summer-league team; he'll play in the league in Las Vegas that begins Friday, but will miss the six games in the Rocky Mountain Revue later this month because of a commitment to the Bosnian national team.

"This time is much different," Bavcic said. "I'm glad to be here. I think I'm stronger than last year, and I played much better than the season before. I will try to do my best, and we'll see what happens."

He spent yesterday catching up to the group of draft choices, selected veterans and fringe free agents, who went through their first workout Sunday night. That was because he traveled more than 4,600 miles from Bosnia to Vienna to London to Philadelphia just before 8 p.m. Sunday, a trip that lasted more than 13 hours. His luggage is, he thinks, still in London.

"He's a little stronger, more comfortable," said Tony DiLeo, the Sixers' senior vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager. "Coming over last summer helped him. He took what he learned and applied it. Confidence is a big thing with him; I think he realizes he can play at a higher level."

But not yet in the NBA.

"He is a prospect," DiLeo said. "He's not ready now. He needs to develop more, work on some of his skills. But he's a versatile player, can play [small forward and power forward]. He'll be able to defend; he's an energy-type player. I don't know how long it'll take. We'll just monitor it."

For now, that is as close as the Sixers come to international intrigue.

Yes, he said it

This from first-round pick Thaddeus Young (with a smile): "I'm a Dirk Nowitzki-type player, but I play defense."

This from first-round pick Thaddeus Young (with a smile): "I'm a Dirk Nowitzki-type player, but I play defense."

Six shots

What was former Sixer Aaron McKie, late of the Los Angeles Lakers, doing directing some of yesterday's drills? "Right now, he's just hanging out," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said, laughing . . . The Sixers open summer-league play Friday against San Antonio. Three of their five games in Las Vegas will be telecast by Comcast SportsNet, each at 8 p.m.: July 9 vs. Golden State; July 10 vs. the Lakers; July 11 vs. Phoenix . . . Villanova's Curtis Sumpter will play for Denver in Las Vegas. *

What was former Sixer Aaron McKie, late of the Los Angeles Lakers, doing directing some of yesterday's drills? "Right now, he's just hanging out," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said, laughing . . . The Sixers open summer-league play Friday against San Antonio. Three of their five games in Las Vegas will be telecast by Comcast SportsNet, each at 8 p.m.: July 9 vs. Golden State; July 10 vs. the Lakers; July 11 vs. Phoenix . . . Villanova's Curtis Sumpter will play for Denver in Las Vegas. *

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