San Antonio Spurs

Spurs' Olivier Hanlan using G League championship to fuel NBA pursuit

#Olivier Hanlan
Olivier Hanlan handles the ball against the Grizzlies on July 5, 2018 at Summer League.

Nursing a bad left ankle Olivier Hanlan fought the San Antonio Spurs' 86-76 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Vegas Summer League action on Saturday.

The ankle injury isn't a new one, it kept Hanlan from playing with the national team in the third window of the FIBA world cup qualifications. His impact on the stat sheet wasn't major on Saturday, but in his 19 minutes, he tried to show the Spurs organization and the rest of the NBA world that he belongs.

That's life for a pro trying to find his spot amongst the world's best, nothing will go perfect and you have to seize every opportunity you can.

"I want to build on this year," Hanlan told NBA Canada. "I just won a championship, I'm just going out here trying to show what I can show and leave it at that."

Playing in the G League this past season for the Austin Spurs, Hanlan averaged 14.7 points, 2.8 assists shooting 46% from the field in 44 games. The Spurs formerly the Austin Toros won the G League championship defeating the Raptors 905. It was the second pro championship of Hanlan's career, he also won in his first pro season playing in Lithuanian.

After spending the two previous seasons in Europe, it was his first taste of pro ball in North America - an opportunity not everyone gets and that's something the Canadian doesn't take for granted.

At 25, Hanlan enters the 2018-19 season with the intention of making it onto the Spurs roster. A roster that is rumoured to lose it's top star - a roster that saw a club legend in Tony Parker move onto a new team. With an ageing Manu Ginobili and a potential rebuild on the way, Vegas Summer League may be the perfect time for Hanlan to remind the organization just how talented he is.

"Summer league is kind of an opportunity to showcase," Hanlan continued. "It's not too organized when it comes to the basketball side of things.

"There are limited practices - we practice only a couple times, but there's a lot of games and you never know when you're going to get your opportunity to produce, but whenever you get it you just got to be ready."

It wouldn't be the first time a Canadian cut his teeth in the Spurs' G League program only to find a spot on an NBA roster - Cory Joseph famously fought his way from the G League, then called the D-League to playing and contributing on a Spurs championship team.

While their games are different their mentality is the same, put the team first and the rest will fall into place.

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