By: Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures
Say you were relatively mediocre at your job but you worked at a very successful company. You had a contract with your company for two more years and then they asked you if you wanted to sign on for two additional years. That would sound pretty good, wouldn’t it?
Welcome to the situation Pau Ribas walked into this morning when it was confirmed he signed a contract extension with Caja Laboral through 2015. He’s currently averaging 5.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per a game in the Euroleague this season.
So what inspired Caja Laboral to give him this extension when he’s already signed for two more years? And what kind of potential do we see Ribas having in these next few years? Let’s hypothesize about some scenarios.
The Mutton Chops
Recently shaved off, but always ready to pop out again. His facial hair is some of the best in Europe and believe me, Caja has noticed. Rumor has it the recently shaved off chops were carefully lifted off of Ribas’s face and now sit at a local museum.
Caja could be planning multiple marketing campaigns around selling fake Ribas mutton chops for fans to wear to games. There are so many possibilities to come from Ribas’ indistinguishable mutton chops that Caja decided they had to lock them up for as long as they could.
Dusko Ivanovic Really Trusts Him
Everyone knows Dusko is not the easiest guy to play for and he never seems to look that happy. Some players can’t handle his pressure, while others (see Mirza Teletovic and Fernando San Emeterio) earn his trust and have entire offensive freedom. With the way he’s played these past two years, it wouldn’t seem he’s earned Ivanovic’s trust yet.
Well maybe he’s been more of a factor in ACB play where Caja won a title in 2010, knocking off Euroleague champ FC Regal Barcelona.
All right, so if his stats aren’t catching Dusko’s eye, what is? Ribas plays energetically on both ends of the court. He’s a combo guard who doesn’t have many weaknesses but also doesn’t do any one thing really well. Slow it down tempo and running a half court offense is not where he flourishes. Playing next to perhaps the best passing point guard in Europe the past two years (Marcelinho Huertas), Ribas has had to do very little game managing.
To bring him on for four more years must mean Ribas is trusted as the first or second guard off the bench to liven up the offense and chase after other guards on defense. I must start watching him closer in Caja games to see what Dusko sees. Maybe Pau has an incredible gatorade mix for the coolers or keeps the energy loose in the locker room? Whatever it is, Dusko must like it.
Caja is Hoping Potential Turns into Production
Two years ago when Ribas signed with Caja, I counted him in the group of “promising young Spanish guards”. I never thought of him on a level of Sergio Llull or Ricky Rubio, but someone who was a future starter on a good ACB/Euroleague team. Back when he was very young and playing in Badalona, most dumb turnovers or missed layups were choked up to immaturity and a youthful energy that just gets going a little too fast sometimes.
Now with Caja, Ribas is making a lot of creative and skillful plays, but they come in spurts. He’s the fourth or fifth best guard on a team that’s reached the Euroleague Playoffs the last two seasons, but that wasn’t what I envisioned Ribas reaching for when he signed with Caja. Now two years in expectations seemed to have flattened, so what does Caja see in his future?
A combination of Ribas and the team’s other young guard Thomas Huertel is intriguing, but I don’t see them starting for a productive team together down the road. If I were Caja I would now hope for Ribas to continue attacking the rim, keep improving that outside jumper and become a menace on defense. If all goes well Caja is hopeful they’re looking at their best bench guards for the next four years.