Ilian Evtimov is a 33 year old 201 cm forward that is playing his sixth season for ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA). He has the French-Bulgarian citizenship and played at North Carolina State from 2001-2006. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 10.4ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FG: 45.3%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT. After a short stint with Estudiantes Madrid in 2006, he played at VidiVici Bologna in the 2006-2007 season. He played FIBA EuroCup playing 15 games averaging 6.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 2FGP: 65.4%, 3FGP: 47.1%, FT: 72.2%; and playing15 games in the Italian league averaging 3.1ppg, 2.1rpg. In 2007-2008, he moved to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners playing 10 ULEB Cup games averaging 14.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 85%; and in the German League playing 44 games averaging 13.1ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 41.4%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 86.2%. In 2008-2009, he continued playing in Frankfurt playing 10 EuroChallenge games averaging 8.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 70.0%; and in the German League playing 34 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 43.6%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 74.6%. In 2009-2010, he played for BC Levski Sophia (Bulgaria-NBL): 1 game: 6pts, 5reb, 2ast, 3steals; Balkan League: 1 game: 3pts, 1reb, 1ast, 2steals; in Oct.’09 moved to Proteas EKA AEL Limassol (Cyprus-Division EuroChallenge: 13 games: 10.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 83.3%: FT-2(90.9%). He joined ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA) in 2010 and in his six seasons has won the France cup twice being named MVP in 2012 and the won the Pro A title in 2012. He is looking for his first international club title and spoke to German Hoops before the FIBA Europe cup final 4 in France.
Thanks Evti for talking to German Hoops. Since the loss on the road in Strassburg over Easter, Chalon rebounded and had a 5 game winning streak, but got it snapped with a 100-83 loss against Le Mans. That was the most points Chalon gave up this season. How can one explain a breakdown on defense like that at near the post season?
We are a team that is great on offense. We have been developing great chemistry and confidence on offense. Against Le Mans, despite still being able to score over 80 points, we played very bad defense. Anytime you let a team score 100 points, it becomes very hard to win. That is how most teams feel about us.
Lebron James friend Romeo Travis hurt Chalon with his 25 points. He has played in many countries as a professional, but this is his first season in France with Strassburg and now Le Mans. Do you remember when you played him early in your career in Germany when he played for Ulm?
Yes I do, our careers have crossed paths a number of times. The basketball world is a small world. He is a great player!
When your on the court and play against a guy like Romeo Travis who came on the scene pretty much the same time you did and battle him now, do you ever compare yourself to him in terms of how both have developed further as a professional?
Not really. When we face opponents that we know, it is always a battle. Someone may win a battle here or there, but it is who wins the war. Most players develop and become better as their careers go on, especially when we hit the age of 30, where we have both intelligence and our body in good shape.
This week Chalon will prepare for the Fiba Europe Cup at home. How thrilled are you that the final 4 will be on your home court and what is special about your fan base that will give the team a big advantage?
Our fans are fantastic and it is definitely a bonus to have the homeport advantage. We are one of the top 3 hottest gyms in France. For me the number 1! The crowd pushing is like having an extra player on the court. We are extremely excited.
You reached the Eurocup Final 4 as a rookie in 2007 with VidiVici Bologna (Italy-SerieA) and Eurochallenge final in 2012 with Chalon. How big is the desire to finally win your first international club tournament?
It is a big motivation for me. This is the only title I have not won with Chalon. Putting our name to the European map in this manner is a fantastic thing to accomplish. But I know everyone will be hungry.
Chalon had an amazing 14-3 Fiba Europe Cup season. What was the secret to the success of the team being able to reach the Final 4?
We have many individuals who want to prove themselves, therefore have a great desire to overcome adversity. The European scene is great for this because it gives the players great exposure. We have something special in this team. We are capable of accomplishing great things together!
Is the fact that the team has no real superstar keep the club grounded and focus on that team basketball aspect more?
We have many players who can score 20 points in one game. I think we have had everyone score more than 20 points in one particular game this season. This is the strength of our team!
How much credit does head coach Jean-Denys Choulet get for being able to get the club on the right page early and building a healthy team chemistry with 5 new Americans on board?
It is not easy to do. He has a great eye for recruiting Americans. Players that deserve to be on the next level. Many people have been surprised by the quality of our players this year. We have a group of great individuals and players. He deserves credit for putting this team together!
Devin Booker has had his real breakthrough this season with Chalon. How raw is this guy still in his second professional season and are the NBA rumors legit?
He is NBA level, no questions about it. He has the TOTAL PACKAGE. Inside game, outside shooting, athletic, strong. I have rarely seen someone who is as gifted, and on top of that who understand the game. Don’t be surprised by the career he will make!
Teammate Jeremy Hazell is the team´s leading scorer. What still amazes you about his game every time he steps on the court?
I call him the black mamba! He is capable of hitting the most unbelievable shots in basketball. He just scored 25 points in one half the other night. Not only scoring a lot, but making very difficult shots that seem impossible.
You are playing your sixth season with Chalon. Your scoring and rebounding average have been around 9/3 for the last four seasons. Has your role changed over the years? What kind of role do you have this season?
It is not by chance to be playing in the same team for 6 years. I bring to the table experience, 3 points scoring, intelligence, and titles! I have never not made the playoffs in my career, and that is anywhere I have played!
Your turning 33 in a few days. What besides giving experience to your younger teammates is your biggest asset as you get older?
I am getting better with age. Like a good old wine. The game seems much easier than it was a few years ago. I am gaining experience for myself!
In the first semi-final Chalon tackle Italian team Varese who are currently ninth in the Serie A and had a 12-6 record in the Fiba Europe Cup. Chalon average 10 points more in the competition while both teams give up 77 points. What kind of game can we await?
We are going to be there to play our usual offense, where we score many points in offense, but we will need and we will step up our defense, in order to go pass the semi final.
Varese has a potent roster with ex NBA players Chris Wright, Brandon Davies and Maalik Wayns as well as talented European players. What will be key to reaching the final?
Great defense! Team defense!
Is it like a secret dream of meeting your ex team Fraport Skyliners in the final? What would it mean to you facing your ex team?
It would be awesome to be able to play The Fraport Skyliners in the final. When I had reached the first final four in the Eurochallenge with Virtus, I faced my old team of Estudianted Madrid for 3rd place. Walked out victorious from that game. I would like for history to repeat itself, and winning with my current team.
You had a good first season in Frankfurt, but was somewhat stalled in your second season by your coach and then needed to go to Cyprus to find yourself again before going to Chalon. How did your two years with Frankfurt help your career and make you stronger as a player?
I had a great experience in Frankfurt. The second season I believe we under achieved, too much talent perhaps. I remember after that season that the team was changed up up to 90 %. We did not have the chemistry needed but we had the most talent in the Bundesliga that year. We should of won something! When you remember the players on that team, it was impressive.
If you had to pick one player that you miss most from your Frankfurt days who would it be?
Derrick Allen, my boy and brother! The most professional player I have ever met, me and him got along really well.
It has been more than 10 years since your last college game where North Carolina State lost to Texas 75-54. What did you remember most your shooting night or the great talent you played against like Daniel Gibson, PJ Tucker and Lamarcus Aldrige?
I really don’t remember much from that game. Other than it was an ugly way to be beat in the tourney. We did however make it to the tourney for 5 straight seasons. Texas was extremely good that year. We did not match up well.
How is the friendly school trash talking between you and teammate Tyler Kalinski? Is there any different kind of comeback he can bring when comparing Davidson and North Carolina State besides the typical Steph Curry played before I did at Davidson?
I know his coach from Davidson really well. Bob Mckillop. I actually almost went there myself. It was my 2nd choice. We have many friends in common and we have too much to talk about because of everyone we mutually know. Tyler is a great individual, and a great player. Extremely smart. And of course, a fantastic shooter!
You love to shoot the three ball. If you had the opportunity to have a three point shooting contest with Steph Curry where each shot 100 times, but you could shoot in your home gym and he had to shoot on a playground where he had never been at before. Who would win?
Just for the record, my record is 96 out of 100 in practice (3s) a record that I was chasing because it was that of Drazen Petrovic. Steph Curry is the best shooter on the planet, no questions about it, but if he is shooting on a playground, I can’t see him winning!
As a movie buff that you are what has been the best movie that you have seen in 2016?
London has fallen! Fantastic movie! I love Gerald Buttler’s movies!
Thanks Evti for the chat.