After his fifth professional basketball season ended earlier in the Summer, Van-Far graduate Mike Smith was uncertain of what was next for his career with the birth of his second child lingering in late August.
Fortunately, his current team, the Port of Antwerp Giants, worked with Smith, allowing him to stay in the U.S. for the birth of his second child, Breklyn Denise Smith, on August 28.
The former East Tennessee State University stand-out then returned to Belgium on September 1.
He said the team’s support, along with his joy of playing for head coach Roel Moors, were big factors in his return to the program.
One month later, Smith and the Giants won the team’s second Super Cup in franchise history in Belgium. The game features the Cup Champions against the champions from the league the year before.
The Port of Antwerp Giants knocked off Ostende, a squad that has won the Belgium league for several years in a row.
“It was a great way for us to start the season as we (had) our first official game on October 1,” Smith noted.
After winning the Super Cup, his team is currently undefeated and in first place in the league with a 3-0 start.
Smith is averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He picked up 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists in the season opener.
Smith’s teammates include Georgetown’s Jason Clark, Arizona’s Ryan Anderson, Mississippi State’s Gavin Ware, and Duquesne’s Micah Mason, among others.
The season lasts eight to 10 months long depending on how the team performs in the playoffs.
“For my team we have set our eyes on a championship,” Smith said. “That is my goal every year! Personally, I would love to be Top-10 in the league in scoring and stay healthy.”
Smith’s wife Katie and his two kids will join him in Belgium on November 2 and stay for the remainder of the season. Last year, Smith was named the MVP through the Giants’ Fan Club as he averaged 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.
During last season, the Port of Antwerp Giants did reach the Belgium Cup Finals and also advanced to the Fiba Europe Cup Final 8.
In the Final 8 quarterfinal, Smith scored a game-high 26 points in a tough loss. He made 10-of-11 shots from the field in the loss to the team that went on to the finals.