Novak to play professional basketball in Portugal
Nick Novak is returning to Europe in September as he will play for a team in the top professional basketball league in Portugal.
The Franklin Regional graduate warmed up for the new on-court venture with a standout summer in the Duncan Financial Group Summer League at Irwin Park.
The league, filled with players who must be out of high school, capped its 2015 season Friday, and Novak and his team, Excelloy Industries, outlasted Uniontown, 107-100, in overtime.
Novak had a monster game with 36 points. He had 34 in a 12-point victory in the semifinals.
This summer was Novak's seventh season in the league, and he now has won three titles. When he won his second championship, he recorded 48 points in the title game.
“This was a new team we put together,” said Novak, who paired up with players that included his Pitt-Johnstown teammate and roommate Patrick Grubbs.
“Hopefully, we can stick together with these guys for the next couple of years.”
Grubbs, who graduated from Serra Catholic and is a Turtle Creek native, now is an assistant coach for the Pitt-Johnstown men's team.
“The only time we had more than five guys at a game was the championship game,” Novak said with a chuckle.
“It's summer, and people had things going on. We were playing teams with a number of subs. Whoever was there, we had to get it done. In the championship game, we were loaded. We had six, and were able to sub.”
Novak received an offer from Ovarense, one of the top teams in the Liga Portuguesa de Basquetebol (LPB), a couple of weeks ago.
“We've agreed on terms, and now it's about drafting the contract. I am ready to sign it and will be ready to go.”
Novak will be back in Europe after playing the 2013-14 season for a team based in Berlin, Germany.
Playing for SSV Lokomotive Bernau in Germany's First Regionalliga, Novak averaged a team-high 15.8 points per game, helping Bernau to a third-place finish in its division.
The LPB season starts in early September. Ovarense made it to the semifinals of the 2014-15 season which ended in late May.
It lost 3-2 to eventual league champion Benfica in its semifinal series.
“The season is similar but a little shorter than an NBA Season. It's longer than a college season,” Novak said.
Overense is located on the Atlantic Ocean, not too far from the city of Porto, Portugal's second-largest to the capital, Lisbon.
Novak said his time in Germany and all he experienced there will help in getting use the culture in Portugal.
“When I went to Germany, it was my first experience overseas,” he said.
“It was my first job out of college. I had to figure everything out. I had to learn how to ride the train, use a map, and everyone was speaking German.
“I don't know any Portuguese, and I've heard it's not the easiest language to learn, but there is a lot of English speaking there. I am not too worried about that. There will be things to get used to, but I am ready to roll with the punches and see what happens.”
The LPB allows more than one American on a team.
“I hope to connect with some more experienced American players there,” Novak said.
“I was the only American on my German team.”
After returning home from Germany and playing a full 2014 summer of basketball in several leagues, including the Pittsburgh Pro-Am League, Novak took some time to decide where to play next.
He ultimately chose the new Steel City Yellow Jackets team in the American Basketball Association.
The ABA fielded close to 100 teams in 2014-15, and the expansion Yellow Jackets were the newest in the group.
The Yellow Jackets won the seven-team North East Division, but lost in the regional championship game.
“It was a heck of an experience,” Novak said.
“I got to go to a lot of cool cities I've never been to and played some good basketball. I met a lot of good guys.
“In Pittsburgh, basketball is not always No. 1, but we had a collective effort to do our best in getting support for the team. The people who are involved with it are sticking with it. I wish them the best of luck. There are some really good athletes. I received the chance to go back overseas. It's a good opportunity for me. I had to take that chance again.”
Novak said his decision to return to Europe was met with a large amount of support from family and friends.
He hopes everyone will be able to watch his games online.
The team website is Ovarense.pt, and information on the team and the LPB also can be found at eurobasket.com/Portugal/basketball.asp
Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer reach him at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.