Nino Celebic is a 27 year old 191cm guard from Serbia playing his second professional season in Germany and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He has been an important reason for the team´s 10-0 start currently averaging 10,9ppg,1,1rpg and 3,4apg. He began his career with BC Mega Aqua Monta Beograd junior team and played many years in his home land before coming to Germany in 2016 where he practiced a season with Pro A team Hamburg Towers. Last season he celebrated his break through in Germany with SC Rist Wedel (Germany-ProB) playing 27 games averaging 14.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 3.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 79.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Nino thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Right now I am in with Bayer and I am enjoying playing here. After 2-3 really difficult years behind me, now everything is going good.
Congrats on the amazing quick start as your 10-0 with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. If somebody had told you in pre season that the team would have begun at 10-0 what would you have said?
Yes, 10-0 really sounds amazing. I would say “wait, let’s go game by game” , I think that’s the only way how you can be successful
Have you ever registered a start like this in your career? How does it feel reeling off so many wins in a row?
I was, 13-0 when I was in Serbia. The feeling is great really, but on the other hand you have to be calm and stay on the ground, because the real games start in March ,then you have to play your best basketball.
Congrats on the big 97-75 win against new team Schwenningen. It was a tight game in the first half, but you pulled away in the second half. What was key for getting the win?
They were more physically ready as we can see they had some old guys, but the second half was our game and the key was definitely our crazy energy
How is basketball life different for you when you start each new week having won one game more? How is this success effecting you mentality? How do you think and go about your business now when you have constant success?
It’s not different at all. This can only give us moreenergy and confidence. But as I say ,game by game, week by week. The greatestteams always do that no matter which league they play.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen have won 8 of the 10 games by at least 10 points or more. Has playing basketball just become more easy playing with this team?
This is a team where everyone can give you something and that’s a big key factor in this league. Great atmosphere all the time, having fun and of course good practice
The team is doing everything right as it is the best offensive and rebounding team and third best defensive team. What has been the secret to the success?
We are just pushing each other all the time in practice. Me as a PG, I am always trying to talk with my big guys and trying to explain then how important it is to control the rebound , so far they are doing a really great job. I am happy for them
The team chemistry also seems to be spot on. How easy has it been for you playing in Hansi Gnad´s system this season?
The team chemistry is amazing. Everyone can see that. Hansi is a coach who likes to change a lot. I am just a guy who has to do a job and play good.
How important has it been having a versatile player like Nick Hornsby on the team? What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?
Nick is a guy who is everywhere on the court. His energy is crazy. He is so important for us. We understand each other really well and playing with him here is an amazing thing
How strong will the Bayer Giants Leverkusen be when Ron Mvouika explodes. What dimension does he give the team?
I am still waiting for Ron. He can give us so much in offense. He has an unbelievable shot and when he catches fire it´s going to be really funny to watch ! He will come!
I think a big reason for the success of the team has been the acquisition of you. You give the team so much energy at both ends of the court. Does the Leverksuen system fit your game better than other times in your career?
I am just trying to win every game. I was with teamswhere I had to score 25-30 but at the end I was losin ,and for me as PG that’snot good at all. I like to compete and win in every practice. If you are doingthat during the week your going to have that in the game.
Also having you and Alexander Blessig on the court for 40 minutes always bringing energy and pressure is key. How beneficial has it been for your game having him beside you on the court?
Alex is helping me a lot here if I am tired he will be there to give the energy and to push this team. Having him here is a great thing for me plus he is a great shooter
Please talk a little about the coaching philosophy of Hansi Gnad and how he has been the mastermind of the success. He has been an assistant coach for the longest time and this season has his first head coaching job. It seems like he should have had a chance like this a long time ago, because obviously he knows what he is doing
Hansi is a different guy, he really is. He wants to win every game that’s his mentality. If he continue like this, he can put this club on a high level again. I really believe in that
How much of a pleasure has it been playing with Marian Schick this season. What do you appreciate about his game most and do you get his German humor?
MARIAN? my fav guy. He is so funny and so smart. He understands basketball and playing with him is so easy for me
The next game is against the Scan Plus Baskets who won the pro B last season. They have been struggling a bit this season. What will be key to getting the win on the road?
The game against Scan Plus is going be completely different. It will be a long trip playing against a good team even if they’re struggling. I think if we bring our energy on the court like against Frankfurt then we have a big chance to win that game.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a 191cm guard that has a very versatile game. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player or European player who would best fit that description?
Uh ,lets say in the past Jason Williams ,right now maybe Goran Dragic. I like to run a lot and the open court is my game. In Europe let’s say Sergio Llull
You give so much energy on the court. Is this something that you have always had or did it develop more over time?
You will see my energy all the time pushing the team
What are your personal goals this season with your game? What things do you want to improve on and do you feel like you can play at a higher level like Pro A?
Right now I am still trying to find my real game. I was hurt in the last 5 weeks and I had to change my game a bit, but I didn’t attack basket like I am doing all the time but now it’s getting better and hopefully I will be 100% soon
Last season you played with Wedel. How important was this season in your development as a player. How did the German style help your game last season?
After my break and 2 years not playing basketball when I came I told everyone they will watch me in the BBL and if I stay in Germany ,I will go there, it just takes time of course but will be there
How tough was last season? You lost 5 games by 3 points or less. What was your season highlight? Possibly the 80-78 win where you had 22 points and 10 assists?
My season with Wedel was really strange. I had to go there and didn’t have any option. Coach Felix was a main reason. Just needed to put myself on the map again. We had a team for a top 4. But a lot of injuries happened really a lot. In one moment I was alone with some young guys and had to score a lot and play a lot. We didn’t reach our goals ,but we saved the club in the play downs
Two seasons ago you didn´t play a professional game, but practiced with the Hamburg Towers. How tough was this time for you and what did you learn about your time that got you successfully through this period?
Yes I was there with Hamburg. They didn’t want to sign me. Coach didn’t like my game which is ok, I respect that. And yes it was really hard for me watching and not playing waiting for something, but I learned no matter what ,if you are going the right way, your 5 minutes will come sooner or later. Someone will see what you can do
Who was the toughest player that you battled in your career that is in the NBA now or at a high level in Europe?
The toughest player was Bogdan Bogdanovic. He is in Sacramento right now and he is doing really good! In Europe let’s say Nedovic. We are same age and we played against each other many times. He is a great player!
Who would be your starting five of best teammates you ever played with?
Starting 5 that’s hard to say. Iwas lucky to play with some amazing players in Serbia. I really can’t answerthis.
The Los Angeles Lakers are over 500 at the moment. Where do you see the journey of them going this season with Lebron James?
Before the season starts, I was talking here with my guys about the Lakers and I said if they stay healthy, then they can go all to the end! Lebron,Rondo,Kuzma
Luka Doncic is the real deal and the top rookie in the NBA at the moment. Do you feel that with time he could become one of the greatest European players to ever play in the NBA?
Luka! ?? That kid is crazy! He won everything! Absolutely everything and he is 19 ! So he is one of the best right now for sure!
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Let’s say Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozen or KD , Kawhi Leonard (Nikola Jokic) and Anthony Davis
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
I don’t know how someone can even talk about Mike. Thatman never left the team and tried to win championships with some other guys. Irespect Lebron of course one of the best ever! But Michael Jordan
What was the last movie that you saw?
Right now I am watching BREAKING BAD which is a really good one! But the last move was about Queen (documentary movie) Thanks Nino for chat