Alex Tyus is a 27 year old 203cm center from St Louis, Missouri playing his fourth professional season and second with Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv. He started his basketball career in 2007 with Florida(NCAA) and played there until 2011 playing a total of 142 NCAA games and as a senior played 36 games: 9.1ppg, 6.2rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 63.0%. In 2011 he turned professional and played for Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Premier League): 30 games: 12.6ppg, Reb-3(8.5rpg), Blocks-5(1.4bpg), FGP-3(67.5%), FT: 47.2%. In the 2012-2013 season he played for FoxTown Cantu (Italy-SerieA): 43 games: 9.4ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP-3(65.8%), FT: 49.6%; Euroleague: 10 games: 8.1ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 58.6%, FT: 48.1%. Last season he moved to Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League): 31 games: 9.3ppg, 6.6rpg, Blocks-2(1.6bpg), FGP-2(68.5%), FT: 52.5%; Euroleague: 27 games: 7.7ppg, 5.0rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP-1(72.3%), FT: 52.6%. He spoke to German Hoops following the 73-64 win in Berlin against Alba Berlin
Alex thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on the huge 73-64 win to advance to the Euroleague quarterfinals. It was a tight game throughout. Did Maccabi Tel Aviv just want it a bit more at the end?
Yes I felt we wanted it a bit more than Alba Berlin at the end. I felt that our experience carried us over at the end. We have a lot of guys that have been in big games and know what it takes to win tough games.
With four minutes to play Maccabi Tel Aviv led 66-63 and closed out the game with a big 7-1 run sparked by a Devin Smith three pointer. What was key for getting the win at the end?
Our defense got us the win. We played very well and rebounded well and limited their offensive rebounds. Devin Smith was also big. He hit many big shots and kept us in the game all night long.
In the first three games against Alba Berlin Devin Smith was 5/18 from outside and tonight he was 7/10. I guess he saved his best for last. Where would you have been without him tonight?
We have many talented guys that can fill in the spots, but Devin Smith has been big for us all season long. He can do it all score, rebound, always makes plays and defends. Devin has been our MVP this season.
What has been your response to the shocking news yesterday that Indiana Pacer Chris Copeland was stabbed outside a New York club. Does this make you think twice about the next time your out on the town?
No not really because that happens all the time. It is a shame that that happened to him. Whenever something happens to athletes it is always big in the news as the media bring it to a new level. I am always careful when I go out. It can happen to anyone.
Last weekend there was violence in Turkey as a soccer team was shot at when they were in their bus and a few weeks ago Turkish fans caused havoc in the O2 arena in Berlin causing the game to start a hour later. What has been your experience of hardcore fans in Israel this season?
My experience has been good with the fans. Our fans are intense. There are rival fans, but there isn´t violence towards the players. They might call us names, but not more. Fans tend to fight more between one and another. That is how it is in Europe. Fans are really into their teams.
You are playing your second season for Maccabi Tel Aviv. What are you most proud about being able to play for one of the top teams in the world?
Being able to play for a team like Maccabi with all the tradition and prestige has been most rewarding. Everyone watches you and you are able to showcase your talent at the highest level and can make a name. for yourself
A great duel tonight was between you and 203cm players Jamel Mcclean. How much fun and challenging was it dueling against him on the court?
It was fun and challenging playing him four times this season. He has had a great year in the Euroleague. We knew that he is a big part of Alba Berlin and we knew that if he gets going that it is tough to beat them.
You are an athletic, active rebounder who can crash the boards and finish well from close range. But what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I think the ability to shoot the ball. In the Maccabi system I don´t get to shoot the ball as much as I would like. I also think that I am a pretty good passer when I have the chance. I also think my help defense isn´t always noticed. I just try to do the little things.
What is the biggest challenge for you on the court when you have to share minutes with so many players. Besides helping the team win what do you take most pride on the court?
I like to make the big highlight plays where you swing the momentum on your side and start a run for your team. I think that I showed this this season at the Euroleague level.
How important was David Blatt for your game last season. What did he give your game that will help you continue to develop your game this season?
I had a big opportunity to play for him last season and was thankful that he showed trust in me. He helped my game in that he always got on me and made me play with energy at all times. We had a fun run last season.
David Blatt took over the Cleveland Cavaliers. How have you evaluated his stay with the Cavs this season from a distance?
I have watched quite a number of Cavs games this season in Israel and I think that he has done a great job. He figured out how to be able to work with Lebron, Love and Irving and how to make it work. Good coaches now how to do this. Last season he also figured out how to make adjustments and have success. He has been a good fit with the Cavs.
If someone had told you at 2014 Euroleague Final 4 that Maccabi would win by one point against Moscow and beat Real Madrid in OT, would you have believed it? How crazy was this weekend for you?
That was a crazy weekend. I think that we were confident enough that we could win it. You always need some luck and we had that. The feeling of winning was amazing. I remember one guy Jacob Pullen who believed we had a good chance to win it all going into the weekend.
You played at Florida from 2007-2011. How did Billy Donovan get you prepared best for a professional basketball career?
Billy Donovan showed me the value of hard work and always taking advantage of an opportunity and always being ready. He really does a good job teaching his players and all have done well at the next level
You had a very solid Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 13.7ppg, Reb-3(9.0rpg), 1.7apg, Blocks-5(2.0bpg). Were you a bit disappointed you weren´t drafted? Your teammate Chandler Parsons had similar stats like you at Florida and got drafted.
Yes a little bit. I think with my athleticism, I could of played in the NBA and found my niche. However I feel that I have had a great career in Europe the last four years. I am very happy for Chandler. He has established himself in the NBA. If I did get the call to the NBA, I feel it would be interesting.
Could you ever imagine pulling a Derrick Sharp(15 years Macabbi Tel Aviv) and playing for a long time with Maccabi Tel Aviv?
I would love to stay. I feel very comfortable in Tel Aviv. The organization takes care of me and I get along with the fans. This is something I will look into. I am playing at the highest level and for one of the top organizations in Europe so why not?
What kind of experience was it playing for the Israel national team and what does the future hold for Israel basketball?
It was a good experience. It was my first time playing at a high level in Europe and playing against top players and seeing countries I had never seen before. I think that Israeli basketball is coming along. Football is big here, there are young kids coming up.
You are from St Louis, Missouri. Do you know Jimmy Mckinney and what kind of relationship do you have to him?
Not much of a relationship. I know of him. I believe that I have met him and played pick up basketball with him many years ago. I have followed his career the last years and know that he plays in Germany. I watched him a lot as a kid when he played at Vashon high school.
Does a St Louis Cardinals fan have compassion for the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series?
No not really. It is a historic rivalry. The Royals have put together good teams the last years. I hope that the Cardinals bounce back.
Were you surprised that Kentucky didn´t finish the job in the 2015 NCAA Final 4?
Yes I was. I thought that Wisconsin was the only team that could of beat Kentucky. Wisconsin had the size and skill to compete best with Kentucky. I had Duke in the final losing to Kentucky. I think Duke played very well and deserved to win.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Focus. It was a pretty good movie.
Thanks Alex for the chat.