After traveling to three countries in three years, Armin Cane finally found his new basketball home with the Hyvinkaan Poteva team in Finland’s 1st Division B league.
He’s wasted no time with that opportunity. He recently scored 48 points in his Finnish debut to go along with 10 rebounds and six steals. Cane is averaging 36.8 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and four assists per game.
He leads the league in scoring and steals.
Before signing with the team, the 25-year-old from Pleasantville went to Lithuania one summer and Spain the next in hopes of getting noticed and eventually signed. Both times, he had to come back home empty-handed.
Despite that, he jumped at another chance to play in Europe.
“I took a chance by going to Lithuania, I took a chance by going to Spain,” said Cane, who played two seasons at Stockton before heading overseas. “And then once my friend told me about Finland, I said, ‘Why not?’”
“Eventually, I said to myself, I’ll break through,” he added.
According to Stockton coach Scott Bittner, that attitude is typical for Cane.
“He never came into the gym without a smile on his face,” said Bittner, who was an assistant under former head coach Gerry Matthews when Cane played for the Ospreys. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kid to coach.”
When Cane finally got to Finland, however, a new kind of problem arose: the money. Teams wanted to sign him but could only allocate a portion of their budget to foreign players. A lot of them just didn’t have room in their budget for him.
At one point, Cane was told by members of 1st Division A, the highest level of competition in the Finnish league, that he was good enough to play at that level. Unfortunately for him, that team only had the budget for one or two players and weren’t in need of a point guard.
These interactions would soon prove beneficial for Cane, however. A Division A coach referred him to a Division B coach, whose interest was very high.
“This one team said, ‘I don’t care what’s going to happen. We’re going to try our best to sign you,’” Cane said. “And it worked out.”
That team ended up being Hyvinkaan Poteva. His contract includes pay, a meal plan and an apartment.
On Sunday, his team lost for the first time, falling to 4-1. Cane scored 31 points and had 11 rebounds and seven assists in the 102-85 loss to Raholan Pyrkiva.
One of the main things that kept him going before he joined Hyvinkaan Potev was seeing friends going overseas to play basketball. With constant reassurance from those friends that he belonged in the professional circuit, he believed he was destined to make a living playing the game he loved.
“You just have to get into the right situation or get lucky,” Cane said one of his friends told him. “There’s a lot of people that are good at basketball, but they just might not be in the right situation.”
That love, Bittner said, is something you can feel from Cane right away.
“(Armin) probably loved the game more than anybody we’ve had,” he said. “He just spent countless hours at the gym.”
Cane scored 898 points in his two seasons at Stockton, helping the Ospreys go 44-15. He received a New Jersey Athletic Conference honorable mention in the 2014-15 season and earned first-team NJAC honors in 2015-16. The Ospreys won the conference tournament both years.
He is a 2011 Pleasantville High School graduate who was a third-team Press All-Star as a senior. He attended Atlantic Cape Community College before transferring to Stockton.