Jiri Welsch mix - Malaga (2/3)
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Uploaded on Mar 28, 2009
Jiri Welsch was just a schoolboy when he won his first medal, leading Pardubice to a third place finish in the national tournament and gaining All-Star recognition in the process. Since that time he has been a regular member of the Czech National Team, often playing with much older teammates. Welsch began his professional career as a 16 year-old teenager with Pardubice, where he stayed until 1998, at which time he signed with Sparta Prague and played in his first European club games in the Korac Cup and was named Czech League MVP following the 2001-02 campaign.
He left Sparta for the Slovenian Euroleague club Olimpija Ljubljana in the summer of 2000 and signed a three-year contract with a one year option but when the NBA came calling Welsch opted out of his third year and headed for the States.
Welsch was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, but was immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors. He spent one season in with Golden State (1.6 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.7 apg in 37 games), before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in August 2003. Without ever playing a game for the Mavs, Welsch was traded by Dallas to the Boston Celtics in October 2003, in exchange for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk.
In Boston, under the tutelage of Coach Jim O´Brien, Welsch experienced his most successful season in the NBA. He jumped into the starting five and stayed there for a year and a half, averaging 8.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 2.0 apg and earning 100 starts. Despite this improvement, the arrival of new coach Doc Rivers meant a turning point for the Czech, and Welsch was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2005, where he spent most of the remainder of that season on the bench.
New management started a rebuilding process and Welsch was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for a 2006 second round draft pick. After just a few years in the NBA, Welsch started to feel bad about being bounced around and made the decision to return to Europe. Last summer, he signed a three-year contract with Unicaja Malaga, a team that had just won their first ever championship title in the Spanish Liga ACB.
Welsch is a combo guard who likes to take the ball to the basket or to shoot off the dribble. He's got a sweet outside jumper, and is a solid decision-maker and floor leader. He likes to play the game at a fast pace and will push the ball up the floor whenever he gets the opportunity. He's extremely tough, but can be inconsistent from beyond the 3-point arch.
Welsch has been voted the Best Czech basketball player each of the last six years. As a member of the National Team he is indispensable, averaging 38 minutes per game and 18.6 points in EuroBasket 2007 qualifying games. He put forth a heroic effort in a key game against Hungary (83-64), where he played the entire 40 minutes and scored a game-high 23 points. More amazing, he had arrived just three hours before the game after traveling all day from Malaga. Jiri Welsch is the unquestioned leader of the Czech side and will no doubt show devotion and a brave heart in Spain.
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