During a 132-114 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers at home Tuesday, the Stockton Kings welcomed back a familiar face.
Stockton acquired the 25-year-old Eric Mika following a return from the Chinese Basketball Association where he played for the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers.
In seven games in China, Mika averaged 19.9 points on 56.1% shooting, 11.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Just prior to signing with the Flying Tigers, Mika made noise in Stockton with impressive play backed up by even better averages.
Before leaving to China, Mika put up 19.7 points on 54.9% shooting, 16.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 blocks in six games.
Mika enjoyed his first day back from China and is looking to build on the chemistry the Stockton squad assembled early in the season, which evidently lacked in the loss.
“It feels like I never left. It feels like it was all a dream, it was super quick...Obviously, I think we were a little bit out of rhythm. Tonight, you know, we had a lot of things that we saw we needed to work on and do better,” said Mika.
In 26 minutes off the bench, Mika tallied 14 points on 4-12 shooting with 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal and he admitted there was one thing he needed to improve.
“Sleeping. I need to get some sleep. I feel like I just got off the plane. It’s just one game I needed to kind of get my legs back under me, kind of just get it out, get the rust out,” said Mika.
“The same exact thing happened when I got to China. I had one game where I was just, I mean dead. After about 10 minutes, I was just wiped. It already felt like I had played 45 minutes.”
Despite the loss where the now 13-9 Kings allowed the now 7-18 Vipers to shoot 54-92 (59%), Coach Tyrone Ellis kept the team’s heads up.
“Coach’s message after the game was just to stay positive you know. It’s easy to do it when things go well but we gotta do it in tough moments like this. We’ll learn from it, we’ll move forward, we’ll be better,” said Mika.
But Mika wasn’t the only King who returned to the court tonight. Former Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby came out and participated in film sessions with the team. Not only that, but he sat courtside and helped with coaching aspects.
Mika wasn’t a Kings fan growing up, but he offered nothing but praise for the Sacramento great.
“Everybody knows who Mike Bibby is so I thought it was funny that he even had to introduce himself,” said Mika.
The first year G-League rookie reflected at his short time with China on a positive note.
“I had a lot of fun. My team was great, got along with the guys both American and Chinese players. It was a completely different experience from living and playing here in the States which I enjoy, you know, seeing different parts of the world, different cultures and finding a way to be successful on the court and we did just that,” said Mika.
Stockton returns to action at home against the Iowa Wolves on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PST.