Pierre Bland is a 24 year old 188cm point guard from Jacksonville, Florida playing his third professional season and third with SSV Lokomotive Bernau (Germany-ProB). He started his basketball career with Florida State College at Jacksonville (JUCO) in 2010 where he played two seasons playing a total of 58 games. In 20102 he moved to IPFW (NCAA) where he played until 2014 playing a total of 69 NCAA games and as a senior played 36 games averaging 9.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.3apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 44.0%, FT: 71.7%. In 2014 he turned professional with SSV Lokomotive Bernau (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 23 games averaging 15.2ppg, 7.3rpg, 5.0apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 61.8%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 71.9%. Last season with SSV Lokomotive Bernau (Germany-Regionalliga) he played 26 games averaging15.2ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.8apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 68.0%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 75.0%. He spoke to German Hoops following helping dismiss the Fraport Skyliners Juniors from the playoffs.
Thanks Pierre for talking to German Hoops Congrats on the huge 88-59 victory against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. How near was this performance to perfect Lok Bernau basketball?
It was a solid game on both ends of the floor! I wouldn’t say close to perfect because it was things we could have executed better in but the defense pushed us the whole time.
Did Lok Bernau have that extra motivation coming into the do or die game after losing in Frankfurt?
Yes of course! Nobody wanted to be knocked out of the playoffs.
Did the fact that the Fraport Skyliners Juniors only came with 8 players and were missing some stars heighten the team self confidence knowing that you had the huge depth advantage?
No I didn’t matter who they had, that doesn’t heighten or diminish our teams confidence! We knew what we had to do.
Lok Bernau started quickly going on a 9-0 run setting the tone and never looked back again. Did you sense as if the fraport Skyliners Juniors weren´t the most confident team not having the home court advantage and having such a slim rotation?
I’m not sure how they felt. We just went out there and controlled what we could on our end.
Lok Bernau had a solid offensive night, but defensively also had a solid night holding Frankfurt to only 17% shooting from downtown. Which category do you feel was more important to the win the offensive of defensive aspect?
Defensive aspect for sure because we played the whole game with the right intensity.
What do you feel was key for winning this series besides having the home court advantage?
Our defensive intensity set us apart in this series.
How proud have you been all season about the production of the young Germans? In game three you were without both German veterans Robert Kulawick and Nico Adamczak, but as usual guys like Ferdinand Zylka and Tim Schneider stepped up, but guys like Jonas Bohm, Robert Glockner and the Hundt brothers gave their part?
The young Germans have been doing their part all season! Everybody has their roles on the team and in order for us to be here, we needed everyone at different points in time to step up!
You faced Isaac Bonga three times. He is a projected 2018 NBA first round pick. At age 17, he will obviously still develop a lot more, but what was your impression of him? To what NBA player would you compare him to and does he have NBA game?
I liked his ability to stay in control and his handle on the ball. I guess I could compare him to Giannis Antetokounmpo because of his length and skill set!
How exciting has it been in general for you playing your first Pro B playoffs after toiling two seasons in the Regionaliga. How much leadership do you offer considering the team is full of Germans and have guys like Kulawick and Adamczak that have massive experience?
I have always been a leader on teams I’ve played on. I feel as though I know the game well so my leadership skills will always be of value along with who else is on the team!
How cool is it facing new teams in the Pro B in the playoffs. It kind of reminds me of back in the day with MLB baseball where the national league and American league only met the World series.
It’s just a different look for us. Just makes it more competitive and a need for us to lock in and focus more because it is the playoffs so every game counts.
The next opponent is Bochum a team you know from this season who swept you. With what kind of feelings do you go into this series. How does one turn off the fact that one was swept by them?
The feelings of us losing to them regular has been gone because it doesn’t matter now. I feel confident in my teammates and myself to go out and accomplish our goal! Just continue going a game at a time.
The first loss was a shoot out where Bochum totally took your defense a part and the second loss was more of a defensive affair where they defended better than you. Plus they have experienced American Ryon Howard back. What will be key to winning this series?
Defense will be key and our ability to execute for 40 minutes.
Lok Bernau has many talented Germans with Ferdinand Zylka, Tim Schneider, Robert Glockner and the Hundt brothers with four of the five having played in the BBL. If you had to pick one who has the best game to become a solid BBL player who would you pick?
I wouldn’t be able to just pick just one out of them because they all bring different things to the table and are all skilled! I believe all of them if given the chance will succeed in the BBL.
How have you seen the development of American Timajh Parker-Rivera? He told me last summer his goals as a rookie were to be as effective as possible and be able to play as many positions as possible. Has he met his goals?
For this team he is at the 5 spot mostly! His energy game in and out allows him to play well even if he is having an off night offensively.
After two solid Regionalliga seasons with Lok Bernau, you came into the Pro B and had even stronger stats despite having more talent around you. What do you credit to your very strong first Pro B season?
Just my focus and having the confidence in myself knowing it’s just another step in the right direction.
How difficult were those first two Regionalliga seasons for you? How often was your mind telling you that you deserved to be playing at a lot higher level?
I have always been telling myself that. At the same time I still am in the position that I am in and I can control putting myself in better positions by winning. So I played every season like I always do. The hard work will pay off.
What kind of relationship do you have with head coach Rene Schilling? How has the trust between you grown and developed since 2014?
We have a good relationship. He knows what my strengths are and puts me in great positions to best help the team.
You are a very good rebounding guard for your 188cm and have averaged 5,5rpg with Lok Bernau in the last three years. Is having had the ability to rebound the ball well something that has always been in your blood?
Yea I like to think so. I’m strong, can jump and read the shots pretty well so that is what enables me to rebound so well as a guard.
You are a guy that can really fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength that isn´t always noticed in your game on the floor?
My unselfishness I believe. Love to see my teammates doing well so I tend to pass up a lot of opportunities for myself just to get them going.
You started your college career at Florida State College at Jacksonville (JUCO). You didn´t have the huge stats, but were you always certain you could play in the NCAA?
Yes for sure. I was always confident in my skills it just took for the right people to see me.
You then transferred to IPFW. What kind of experience off the court was it going to school on a campus that had kids from Indiana and Purdue? How do you feel was this experience different than if you had gone the normal route being at a school like Indiana or Purdue on it´s own campus?
The students there were students of IPFW but you could get degrees from either Indiana or Purdue. So nobody was from those other schools taking classes on our campus.
You didn´t play much as a junior at IPFW, but as a senior you had more of a role playing 36 games averaging 9.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.3apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 44.0%, FT: 71.7%. How do you feel did your game grow overall in school?
Junior year I was dealing with an injury and my senior year I was at full health and became the leader that I knew I could be! My game grew skill wise because of the work I put in with the coaches and seeing the game from different aspects.
How did head coach Tony Jasick help groom and prepare you for a professional basketball career best?
The confidence and trust him along with the coaching staff put in me helped me best! Helped my leadership skills for sure.
You played a season with Frank Gaines who is currently playing at Vechta in Germany and had a great senior season and has had a solid professional season tearing up the D-league and played NBA Summer League and now has settled for a career overseas. What stood out in his game and what could you gain from his game in your first NCAA season?
Frank is just a natural scorer and has explosiveness that’s he doesn’t show all the time. What I’ve learned not only from him but a lot of good players is the amount of confidence in yourself is very important.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Frank Gaines?
We never played one on one but I would choose myself of course, me being so competitive.
Who was the toughest player that you battled one on one in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
I can’t remember anyone specific because I’ve played against a lot of them through AAU not necessarily in college.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 NBA heads would you choose?
MJ, Wilt, Bird, Magic
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
He is creeping up there. Needs a couple more rings and it’ll really be a debate but he is a great nonetheless.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I would say top 3
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
Definitely a great performance and shows you don’t need to dominate the ball just to score! Probably something you won’t see again from someone.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Just going off stats, sure you can say that because it’s only one other person to do that in history.
Draymond Greene recently had a triple double without scoring 10 points or more. Why do you believe has it taken long for someone to do this?
He is more so of an all purpose guy and focuses on defense. He plays more the set up guy on the offensive end.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Last movie I saw was Why Him.
Thanks Pierre for the chat.