Sheffield Sharks have signed 6’10” American centre Paul Williams as a replacement for Tafari Toney, who has joined Mersey Tigers.

The 27-year-old from New Jersey, who attended nearby St. Bonaventure University, averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds for Spanish LEB side El Bulevar de Avila last term.

Hi arrival comes as Mersey Tigers close in securing the signature of Great Britain international Tafari Toney. The centre, who played for Sharks last term, is thought to have agreed a one-year deal.

“Paul won defensive player of the year a couple of seasons ago in Spain and he put up good numbers last year so he is a good signing for us,” Lyons told the Sheffield Star.

Toney’s arrival at Tigers, which was first reported by MVP earlier this week, is a major coup for coach Tony Garbelotto who has already established the strongest group of British players in years.

“We tried to sign him before last season but things did not work out,” said Garbelotto. “I am glad we have managed to put the deal together this time round.

“Although I still believe he can only get better technically and tactically, his work effort, heart and desire are so great that he can only make our frontcourt and team better. We are very excited to be working with him and getting the rest of the players on the practice floor.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers have announced that the Echo Arena will play host to its opening 9 games of the new BBL season.

Tigers chief executive Gary Townsend believes the venue will provide the platform for the Merseyside sporting public to engage in the sport of basketball:

“Having staged games at the arena in the past we are keen to build on those successes and this is yet more proof that the club is moving in the right direction.

“To be able to stage our home fixtures at the one of the most prestigious arenas in the country will make us the envy of the league and we hope the fans will come out in force to support the team.”

Williams in action.

Pirates raid son of GB coach

Essex Pirates coach Tim Lewis didn’t have to look far for a line on his latest signing. Just down Team GB’s bench.

Mike Mokeski, the son of Great Britain assistant coach Paul, is joining the Southend outfit. The 6’9″ power forward attended University of Nebraska-Omaha and will be in his first season overseas.

Lewis has also signed British forward Kene Anusionwu, who will join US guard Turner King in Essex.

Bridge back at Newcastle

Newcastle Eagles captain Andrew Bridge has re-signed for the club on a one-year deal.

The England international had been widely expected to stay at the BBL champions all summer but coach Fab Flournoy stressing Bridge’s importance to his plans.

He will be joined by Darius Defoe, Charles Smith, Aaron Nielsen and Jamie Glenn who have also committed their futures to the club.

The Eagles have also confirmed two home pre-season ties. The first is on September 10 against Durham Wildcats and the second on September 13 against Team USA, both tipping off at 7.30pm.

Plymouth take Pole position

Former Polish junior international Michal Czynienik has agreed a new deal with Plymouth Raiders. The 6’8″ centre returns to the Raiders for a second successive season.

Czynienik moved to England three years ago, and played a number of games for Kings Lynn in England Basketball’s Division 1. He then moved to Ireland for a few months, before moving to Plymouth.

“As soon as he arrived in the city, he made contact with the Raiders and signed for the former Raiders 2 team, playing in Division 2. There he played with Jamie Burchell, and was second on the team in scoring and rebounding over the course of the season.

“At 6’8″, he is going to get court time at centre and the power forward position,” said Raiders coach Gavin Love. “He’s strong and has acquitted himself very well at practice so far.

“I like what he offers us – really hard work, someone that isn’t afraid to get involved in the physical game inside and someone who can rebound and put the ball in the basket inside. His willingness to work hard and improve it what really impresses me with Michal.”

Leicester add Zamroz

American guard Ryan Zamroz has joined Leicester Riders from Australian SBL outfit Geraldton Buccaneers.

The 23-year-old Zamroz averaged 29 points per game in Australia whilst also adding 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Prior to that he was three-time MVP at Master’s College in America where he bagged over 1,700 points to put him seventh on the all-time scoring charts.

“Ryan is a multi-skilled guard who has the ability to make plays from all over the floor,” said Leicester coach Rob Paternostro.

“I’m looking forward to working with Ryan as I believe he is a young player with a very bright future who is looking to excel at the professional level. He is a great long range shooter who isn’t just a shooter, he finds many ways to put the ball in the basket and has shown an ability to adjust and read whatever the defence gives him.”

Rocks take it to The Greek

Livas is a second-year pro

Glasgow Rocks have signed American small forward Nick Livas from Norwegian outfit Tromso.

The 6’6” newcomer, who holds a Greek passport, averaged 11.6 points per game last term in Norway and has been lured to the Kelvin Hall outfit as a replacement for Scotland captain Gareth Murray.

And Rocks coach Sterling Davis, who began pre-season training yesterday with his players, believes he will be a solid addition.

Davis said: “Nick is that guy you use to do whatever needs done.  He is a very hard worker on the floor and always plays with a high intensity.  He is able to mix it up inside and outside which always bodes well in our league.

“He spent last season in Norway and put up very solid numbers.  In speaking to him, he is more than excited to bring his talent to Glasgow.”

Jets ring a Bell

Cheshire Jets have moved to strengthen their back court by adding American point guard Jeremy Bell.

In 2010 Bell played for the Quebec Kebs in the Canadian-based PBL – averaging more than 15 points per game and Obregon in the Mexican League, where he hit 25.1 ppg over 16 games.

In the 2007-08 season, Bell, a 6’1″ 185-pound point guard originally out of Williams Baptist College in Arkansas, averaged 23 points per game for the PBL’s Arkansas Impact, leading  the Impact to the PBL finals . In the 2008 PBL playoffs, he averaged 21 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Jets Head Coach Paul Smith sees Bell as a valuable addition to his much-changed roster.

“Jeremy comes to us with a proven record of scoring over a number of years,” he said. “He is a natural point guard, but he can also play as a shooting guard – so this versatility and his natural eye for the scoring opportunity should give him every chance of success with the Jets.”

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