Cuesta Basketball Hosts Rabobank Tourney To Open 2015-16


SAN LUIS OBISPO (November 2, 2015)— The Cuesta College Men’s Basketball team returns five players from its 2015 Western State Conference Championship team, but with an influx of talented transfers the Cougars boast nine total sophomores on their 14-man squad. The Cougars are in position to win their seventh conference title of the past decade and reach the post-season for the 17th time under Head Coach Rusty Blair (433-309/24th year). The Cougars, despite back-to-back conference titles and four consecutive playoff berths, were ignored by the pollsters in the pre-season state rankings and were also absent from the regional poll, but that has not diminished Coach Blair’s enthusiasm. In fact, the underdog role is something he embraces. Coach Blair says, “We are excited about our depth. We have never had nine sophomores before, we will see who steps up early.” The Cougars kick off the 2015-16 season at home this Friday (8 PM) in the first round of the 47th Rabobank Tournament against West Hills.

The 2015-16 Cougars open the season this weekend when they host the 47th Rabobank Tournament.  The tournament begins at 2 PM on Friday and boasts four 2015 playoff teams in the eight-team field, including defending 2015 CCCAA State Champion Saddleback. The event will run until Sunday with the title game beginning at 5 PM on that day.  The Cougars opening game is scheduled to be part of the Cuesta TV Project. The game will be broadcast on Charter Cable Channel 19 and webcast at for all fans that are unable to attend and cheer on the Cougars in person. Please tune in and catch all the action with Cuesta's own Randy Scovil on the mic, along with Mike Wozniak. The broadcast will begin just before Friday’s 8 PM game. Come catch the action in person or on-line!!! The games will also be aired this Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 PM on Charter Cable Channel 19 and during the week beginning at 5 PM. It will also be archived on YouTube at CuestaHDTV.


Below is a breakdown of the Cougars Roster.

Point Guard- The Cougars are loaded with tremendous ball-handling this season and three guards set to play the point guard position. 2015 All Western State Conference First Team Point Guard Benat Hevia (San Sebastian, Spain) will once again lead the Cougars’ attack. Coach Blair says, “He is our highest rated returner. He is a distributor and brings exceptional guard play.” The Spaniard has also shaken off any rookie trepidation and has become a vocal team leader on and off the court. Hevia led the Cougars with 4.1 assists per game last year and is a pass first guard, however he also added 7.8 points per game and scored 43.8 % of his three point attempts. Sophomore Daniel Solis (Pittsburg) will continue to come off the bench at either guard position. He can run the offense, defend and score from anywhere. He averaged only 3.4 points per game last year, but also converted 42.1% of his attempts from beyond the arch. Coach Blair says, “He is a very solid guy.”   Freshman Kerem Ozel (Marmaris, Turkey) is the starting point guard on the Turkish National Team and Coach Blair says, “He is the most talented player on the team. He is too good to sit and must be on the floor.” Ozel is a complete player and can do everything on the floor. He is also one of the team leaders.”   Coach Blair stated, “We are extremely deep at point guard.”

Off Guard- The Cougars will often go with a multiple point guard set, but also have plenty of depth at the Off Guard spot. Sophomore Nick Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands) spent last season at Clarendon College in Texas, but moved to SLO with his brother this year. Hammink is a 6-5 point guard, but will move to off guard this season. Coach Blair says, “He is a natural point guard. He is a good penetrator.” Sophomore Mathijs van der Mars (Gouda, Netherlands) transferred to Cuesta College from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. He averaged 3.0 points and 1.4 rebounds per game for the Clan. Coach Blair says, “He has been a real surprise. He plays hard and is a ball hawk. He is very quick.” He is also 6-5 and gives the Cougars another active big guard. Spaniards Andres Aguado (Malaga, Spain) and Jordi Rabassa (Castellon, Spain) will hit the floor for instant offense or lockdown defense, respectively. Blair says of Aguado, “He can really shoot.” Rabassa is the Cougars’ defensive stopper. Coach Blair says, “He has good skill. He is a gifted defender from Spain.”      

Small Forward- The Cougars will often go to a three guard set, but also have plenty of skill and size at both forward spots and go “big” in match up games. 2015 All-WSC pick Evgeniy Moiseev (Magnitogorsk, Russia) rebounds like a power forward, but shoots like a small forward. Moiseev averaged 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and collected both in bunches. He was second on the team with 39 three-pointers converted and added a season-high 19 points in the Cougars’ lone playoff game. He also pulled down a team season-high 20 rebounds in a win over Santa Barbara. Coach Blair says, “He is a gym rat and can play small or power forward.” Freshman Alex Ouandie (Sofia, Bulgaria) was the top scorer on a pair of Bulgarian high school champions and Coach Blair says, “He is very raw, but may be our most talented player.” Ouandie is another natural point-guard, but was moved to forward and is projected as the Cougars’ “6th man”.   Redshirt Freshman Ryan Gilroy (Hydesville) can play small forward or be an undersized power forward.   Coach Blair says, “He is a sound player and very fundamental. He is a team guy and a leader.”  

Power Forward- Sophomore Rafail Eleftheriou (Limassol, Cyprus) returns as the Cougars’ starting power forward. He averaged 6.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists (second on the team) per game. Coach Blair says, “He is a vocal leader and our Captain.” Sophomore Ryan Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands) also made the move from Clarendon College with his brother. He is listed as being a little bigger than his twin brother and Coach Blair says, “He is a natural guard, but we are moving him to power forward.” Sophomore Ben Peterson (Atwater HS) averaged a little over six minutes a game last year, but was effective in those minutes. He converted 48.5% of his field goals and averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Coach Blair says, “He is an undersized post player, but has improved around the basket.”   He provides size and strength in the paint for the Cougars. He will be counted on for defense and rebounding off the bench.

Center- Sophomore Roberto Mantovani (Larnaca, Cyprus) is the Cougars’ man in the middle. He transferred to Cuesta from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as the starting Center for the NCAA DII school. Coach Blair says, “He is an inside presence. He will rebound, play defense and score.”  



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