Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Andrew Albicy, BCM Gravelines
Feb 03, 2012
by Frankie Sachs, Eurocupbasketball.com
French basketball has been producing elite point guard prospects for many years. The list of the best to make names for themselves in Europe in recent seasons includes the likes of Nando De Colo, Antoine Diot and Yannick Bokolo. The newest name set to take Europe by storm is speedy Andrew Albicy, who is enjoying a breakout season with BCM Gravelines this season. The Paris native, who came up through the Paris-Levallois Basket youth setup, chose Gravelines this season to break away from the comfort he attained at home. The results have been brilliant. Gravelines sits in first place in the French League and won its Eurocup Regular Season group after starting off 5-0.
The 1.78-meter Albicy is often the smallest player on the floor, but he runs his team with the presence of a true floor general. Though only 21 years old, Albicy has already medaled with the French national team at the junior and senior levels. He can shoot from behind the three-point line, is an excellent passer, has a good feel for the game and is a fearsome on-the-ball defender. As he has shown with his superb play so far this season, the future is wide open for Albicy and could have many more titles in store for him.
The game of basketball was not Albicy’s first choice. A member of a large family with five children – his younger sister Tracy is also a budding professional player in France – Andrew sampled football, handball and even table tennis before finding basketball, which came by accident. After following his brother’s friends to basketball practice, he impressed the coaches so much that they brought him home and convinced Albicy’s parents to sign the youngster up. Because of his vast potential, the coaches pushed him hard and had him play against older competition, and Albicy always rose to the occasion. He played in France’s under-21 league as a 15-year-old, where he was able to show himself off to a wider audience.
Albicy’s first taste of international experience came in the 2006 Under-16 European Championships, where he started for France and helped the team reach the quarterfinals and served as one of its leaders. In fact Albicy was second in the tournament in assists with 3.4 per game – trailing only future Euroleague Rising Star Award winner Ricky Rubio. A week after his 17th birthday, Albicy made his professional debut for Paris with 5 points in 17 minutes in a loss at Le Mans. Though he would play sparingly for the Paris senior team over the next season-and-a-half, Albicy continued to progress at the junior level.
In the summer of 2008 Albicy was back in a France uniform for the 2008 U-18 European Championships. This time he helped guide France as far as the semifinals before losing to Donatas Motiejunas’s Lithuanian side. And he again shined in the traditional playmaking categories by sharing the competition lead in assists with 5 per game and leading it in steals with 3.5. When the French League opened play, Albicy proved he belonged and assumed the role as the backup to Jimmal Ball. But when Ball went down before the playoffs, Albicy stepped in as the starter for the playoffs and guides Paris past Saint Etienne in the quarterfinals before getting stopped by Limoges in the semis.
The world stage awaited in 2009 at the FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand and Albicy stepped up his game as well. He was second on Team France with 14.4 points per game and ranked in the top 5 in the competition in both assists (4.7 apg.) and steals (3.3 spg.) in helping Les Blues to the quarterfinals. In league play, Paris was back in France’s top league and Albicy, though still coming off the bench behind Ball, became a game-changer whose speed and defense became important parts of the team’s game plan. He averaged more than 20 minutes per game and took another major step forward in his development.
Albicy made headlines in the summer of 2010 as he took his game to new heights. First he starred in leading France to the gold medal at the U-20 European Championships, where he was rewarded with the MVP trophy. He starred with 19 points, 10 assists and 4 steals in a narrow win over Nikola Mirotic’s Spain in the semifinals and then came back with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a 62-73 win over Greece in the title game. He finished the tourney with 12.3 points and led the event with 5.9 assists and 3.1 steals per game. By claiming MVP honors at the event, he joined a select group that includes former Euroleague MVPs (Milos Teodosic), Alphonso Ford Top Scoer Trophy winners (Igor Rakocevic), Rising Star Award winners (Erazem Lorbek, Mirotic) and Euroleague champs (Sani Becirovic, Nikos Zisis, Lorbek, Rasho Nesterovic and Nikita Kurbanov). When his run with the U-20 team ended, Albicy was called up for double duty. An injury to Roddy Beaubois opened up a spot on France’s senior team and coach Vincent Collet handed it to Albicy. He announced his presence with 13 points in 26 minutes in a first round win over Spain – including making 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to preserve the win. From that day forth, Albicy was seen as a future star of French basketball.
Albicy came back to Paris, became a starter and averaged double figures in scoring plus his 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game were both among the top 10 in the French League. Moreover, he was voted to the French All-Star Game. Last season he returned to the French national team for EuroBasket 2011. This time with Tony Parker and De Colo handling point guard duties, Albicy was called on less, but he still got to learn from France’s best guards and shared in the excitement as France went all the way to the title game and came home with silver medals.
Even before starting up with Les Blues, Albicy had made plans to move 300 kilometers north to Gravelines after signing a two-year deal with last season’s French Semaine des As champion. Though Gravelines and Albicy came up short in their initial task – qualifying for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague via the qualifying rounds – the new chapter in Albicy’s career has gone as well as he could have hoped for. He scored 21 points in his first Eurocup game; drilled 4 three-pointers in his third and had a double-double in his fourth. By the time the Eurocup Regular Season had closed, he was top 10 in the competition in assists and Gravelines was heading into the Last 16 as a team to be taken seriously. Likewise in the French League he is shooting the ball better than ever and ranked among the leaders in both assists and steals while piloting Gravelines atop the standings.
Now Albicy faces a new challenge. With the eyes of the basketball world upon him, he can no longer take people by surprise. A 0-3 start to the Last 16 puts the team in a difficult spot going forward. However difficult spots are where great players sometimes come to shine. And with two of its remaining three games to be played at home, nothing is out of the question. Thus Albicy moves on to the pivotal part of the season knowing it’s his time to shine and show all that despite his size, Andrew Albicy has what it takes to be France’s – and the Eurocup’s – next great point guard.