After Surviving His Nurnberg Woes Bill Borekambi (wiha Panthers) Learned One Should Never Give Up No Matter How Tough The Challenge

po-bill borekambiBill Borekambi is a 26 year old 198cm forward that has played for 9 professional teams and is playing his first season with the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (ProB). He has a lot of professional experience having played 36 Pro A games for Cuxhaven and Nurnberg and played 75 Pro B games with Lich, PS Karlsruhe and Rostock. He also played two seasons with Coll.Sequoias CC (JUCO) and played a season in the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven organization playing second Regionalliga and NBBL. Last season he was a key contributor for the Rostock Seawolves (ProB) playing 30 games averaging 14.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before the Pro B game against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. 

Bill thanks for talking to germanhoops.com! You’re 26 years old and have played for 12 teams in the last 12 years. Are you a guy that has to by nature always be on the run and can’t be in one place for a longer moment of time. 

Hey miles, I hear that question a lot. but yea honestly I like to collect different experiences and see different places. For me it’s fun to see so many places for me it’s a part of that pro basketball lifestyle. It really helped me to grow as a person and player.

You helped lead PS Karlsruhe and Rostock to the Pro A. I never understood why a guy like you didn’t get rewarded with remaining with one of the teams and playing Pro A again. Has this bothered you and created a chip on your shoulder?

I figured out for myself that the Pro B is the perfect league right now for myself because I’m also working off the court on my future after basketball. I know the league very well by now and know that I can have a big impact on any team. I had a couple Pro A offers but instead of being a role player in the Pro A, I rather be a league lower and be one of the team leaders. I probably don’t have too many years left of pro basketball and I want to use them playing as much as I can and don’t sit somewhere on the bench. 

Your playing your first season with the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (ProB). If somebody had told you in training camp that the team would be in second place with a record of 11-5 in January 2019 and had won all 8 games at home what would you have thought? 

I knew we had a very solid team and that the ambitions of the club and coaching staff were the same like before in Rostock and Karlsruhe. I think a lot of teams underestimated us but for me it wasn’t too much of surprise because I know that we put that work in and everybody is on the same page. 

You played for a very special team last year with the Rostock Seawolves and are playing for a special team this season with the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (ProB). How has this season and team been different from last season? 

Last season in Rostock was a lot of fun. We played in the Pro B but the standards of the organization was already on a first league level. The gym and crowd was just crazy and I think they will be a solid BBL club in a couple years. Over here in Schwenningen they are still building, but their goals are also very high and I’m trying to help them achieve them. It’s a small town probably the smallest I ever played for, but the familiar atmosphere is just amazing.

What has been the secret to the success of the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningenborekambi_fakete (ProB) this season? Would a combination of many nationalities (characters) and coach Alen Velcic be a main reason for the success? 

I think our secret is similar to Karlsruhe being underdogs and also being new in the league. Alen is a great coach. They won the Regionalliga back to back which is not an easy job to do because you basically are not allowed to lose any games. They kept the core of the team and did a good job over the summer adding pieces for the new league.

You have played for many Pro B teams in your career. What makes it so special to be able to play for the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (ProB)? How is the basketball culture different here then what you have ever noticed before in your life?

It’s a very Eastern European mentality here in Schwenningen almost everybody that works in this club is somewhere from the Balkan area. Very strict on the court but off the court the exact opposite like a family.

The club most likely will play another season in the Pro B but it’s ambitions is the Pro A soon. With how the team has been playing how realistic do you see the club winning the Pro B title this season? 

I think we already got a shot this year and the title is our goal how I think it should be for every team. Everything can happen in the play offs. 

A big hurdle will be the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Why has it been so difficult to play them this season. You lost the first game 95-75. The unselfishness of the whole team seems to have carried them to new heights. 

They have a very good team this year with a deep bench what I think makes them hard to play. In our first match we were 3 periods eye to eye but in the 4th we kind of ran out of gas. in our next match up with them we have to find a way to maintain energy over the whole game and I think we can get a surprise with them with our home crowd in the back.

How key has head coach Alen Velcic been for the success? He is basketball 24 hours a day. What are his strengths as a head coach and how important is his character for the success of the team? 

Allen is super ambitious and did a great job forming a team out of all these different nationalities and characters. He let us go on the court but found a good line letting us play our strengths out but at the same time keeping it team orientated. 

Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure has it been playing with Rasheed Moore? Head coach Alen Velcic has said he is only at 60% of his potential. Could he be the best Pro B player this season? 

He is sometimes just unstoppable and I can’t understand how a player like him was in the Regionalliga last year. He is a tough scorer but not with the I would say typical American character. He is very humble and pretty quiet on the court and just let’s his game talk. I really enjoy playing with him he will for sure create more buzz in the future in higher leagues.

How important has the acquisition of Anell Alexis been for you? How has he pushed you on a regular basis in practice best? 

Anell is giving us some needed depth. He is a good player but still has to get more and more built into our system. He got a good jump shot is tall and helps us with our rebounding struggles. 

How key has Abdulai Abaker been for the success of the team? He had to come from the bench and took over the important role of injured point guard Kostas Karamatskos. Has the team become a better defensive team with his play since taking on more of a role?

Abus development this season is huge. He is doing a great job replacing Kosta. Coach Allen is talking a lot with him every practice and he is listening and it starts to reflect in the games. His biggest strength is his knockdown defense and he is getting more confidence in his jump shot. 

Let’s talk about your game. You are an amazing one on one player that can score and rebound. If you had to describe your game to an NBA player who would best describe that? 

I can’t really name you a player. I would say describe my game. But my favorite player is Lebron and I’m trying to watch him a lot and model my game after him because he is just doing everything on the court scoring, rebounding , blocks. That’s what I’m trying to do when I’m playing.

You’re a guy that can do a little bit of all, but your biggest weapon is your one on one play and being able to make tough shots. How do you best practice that so you are always dangerous in games? 

I grew up in Berlin playing a lot of street ball and still doing it over the summer break. I think that helps me over the season because it’s a different mindset and toughness out there. Practicing wise I’m doing some ball handling and regular shooting drills nothing special just to keep my touch sharp the rest comes by itself I would say instincts. I never was a big fundamental guy lol 

Your ex teammates Chris Frazier said that nobody can stop you and Jordan Talbert said you’re a walking bucket. How do you feel that your one on one play has developed in the last years and how do you feel can you continue to raise this part of your game 

I’m not as athletic anymore like how I used to be but that helped me finding new ways to put the ball in the rim. Back in the days I was trying to dunk over everybody. Due to injuries I was able to replace that with a floater that was helping me to get a lot of points these past years.

On what things are you working on your game most at the moment? Do you feel like you could ever be a 40% shooter from outside?

I’m always working on my jumper and ball handling. I think if I would take more shots from outside I could be a pretty decent shooter but so far it wasn’t really needed. Might bring it out in the play offs again like I did it Karlsruhe. 

Your such a talented player. You could be a very good Pro A player and possibly even play in the easyCredit BBL. What do you feel has kept you from playing at those levels? 

For the most part it were injuries that almost made me stop playing basketball a couple years ago. I would have loved to play first league and it used to hurt me knowing that I should be there but now I’m just happy being able to still play basketball and get paid for what I love to do. 

Your 26 now and will be turning 27 this season. Have you reached your prime and how confident are you that you will be able to one day reach the easyCredit BBL? Is that a goal of yours? 

I would say my athletic prime was during my college time but game wise I think I’m starting to get in there slowly. My understanding for the game really grew over the past 5 years. The BBL isn’t my goal anymore.

You led Rostock and Karlsruhe to the Pro A the last two seasons. Do you feel like your leadership qualities are underrated? Do you feel like at times teams at higher levels haven’t been able to see your leadership qualities? 

I can’t really say underrated because I never really have been a vocal leader. I just go out there and trying my best to do what the coaches want me to do for the team success. For the most time this is scoring and rebounding. 

Last season you played with the Rostock Seawolves (ProB) averaging 14.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.6%. What was so special about this team that made it reach the Pro A?

Our goal last year was from the get go to bring the team in to the Pro A. We all knew thats why we were there. Our team was really deep. We played with a solid 10 man rotation with out loosing quality. 

Two seasons ago you played with PS Karlsruhe Lions (ProB) averaging 11.8ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 63.4%. It wasn’t the most talented team, but it had a lot of heart. Was this feeling of not being taken seriously by teams a big reason for the success and being able to play at such a high standard for the whole season? 

Yea I think you described it pretty well. Nobody expected us to be this good even after we kept winning other teams were still calling it luck. We were really well coached and the biggest point was probably that we didn’t really have a go to guy like that. We always had like 4-5 players scoring double digits. 

In the 2014-2015 season you played for the Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA) averaging 13.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 61.9%. After this season was the logical step the BBL or did you not get the interest you thought you would get?

I did have a lot of interest but teams were still hesitant because the team ended up at the bottom of the ranking even though we played a complete different basketball in the second half of the season and beat some big teams like Vechta. So my next step was to show them I can do the same on a winning team in the Pro A before making the move to the BBL.

Cuxhaven did have a good team, but some good veterans like Aaron Cook. What do you remember from his game and character that helped you be the player that you were that season? 

Aaron was a great leader. I knew he was a big name in the league but it was his last year playing professionally and even though his age started getting to him a little bit he maintained being hungry and was always looking out for us younger players. 

After the great individual season with Cuxhaven you made the move to rent4office Nuernberg (ProA) which was a season to forget as you played only 6 games averaging 3.5ppg, 2.8rpg. When you look back at this game do you feel like this changed your career? After this season you would never play in the Pro A again? 

Nuernberg was by far my toughest year that almost made me stop playing basketball. It started off that I missed the complete preseason because I had an abscess on my tonsils and had to get them removed by surgery. I lost a lot of weight and while fighting back getting in shape I rolled my ankle pretty bad and had to sit out again for almost a month. When that ankle finally healed and I started getting more and more back in my regular form, some lower back problems appeared. After fighting through it for a little while with painkillers I was at a point were I could not even bend over no more to lace my shoes. The doctor sent me to the mri and diagnosed me with two herniated discs in my lower back. That was my ultimate neck breaker, in talks with coach Ralf I packed my stuff in December and moved back to Berlin for the rest of the season and thought it was over for me. It took me a while and lot of rehab mentally and physically to get back. In the Pro B I found the perfect league to build my confidence up again. Since then I just remained there. 

What did you learn from your experience in Nurnberg that you feel made you a stronger person and player? 

It was probably the worst but also most teaching experience of my life. To look back and remember doctors telling me it should be better to quit the sport and now having two teams promoted to the Pro A as one of the key guys on the team made me really proud and just showed me that you should never give up no matter how tough of a challenge it is. 

You played a season in Lich averaging 19.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.9%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 64.9% You scored 36 points in a brutal 84-82 win against Dresden shooting 15/20 from the field. Was this your best game as a professional? 

Yea I remember that game I think that game is for sure in my top 5. 

You played at Coll.Sequoias CC (JUCO) from 2011-2013. What kind of experience was this for you and what did you get out of this experience most?

It was always my dream to play in the states and because of academic reasons I wasn’t able to play at a university I ended playing junior college in California. The style of play over there really fitted my game and I was really surprised how good the competition over there was. I played against a couple guys that is now in the league or playing top European level. Over all it was an unforgettable experience living 2 years in beautiful California. 

You played a season in the Trier organization, but mostly for their Regionalliga team. What memories do you have of head coach Hendrik Rodl? What were you able to soak up most from his coaching ways? 

Henrik was a great coach. He talked a lot to me and was really trying to get me step by step into the BBL team. what I liked most about him was that he is one of the few coaches that is really pushing German players giving them a lot of playing time instead of just letting the Americans do everything. Back then though I was young and a little hard headed what I think hurt our relationship towards the end. But all in all I respect him a lot because he was really trying to form me into a first league player and saw my potential. 

You also played a year with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven playing NBBL and Regionalliga. You averaged 18/10 in the NBBL. Why was this such a short stay?

I had a very successful year. In Bremerhaven I started putting my name on the map. After that year though they wanted me stay for a development contract over 5 years what was a little too long for me and that’s how things with Trier worked out then. 

You played at the Albert Schweitzer International Tournament in Mannheim (Unofficial World Championships U18) in 2010 averaging 10.0ppg, 6.0rpg. What memories do you have of this and do you remember playing against kids that would later have big careers? 

Thats was one of my favorite memories for sure. That whole tournament was just amazing playing on a American base in front of packed crowd with 17 was just crazy. Playing side to side with guys like Daniel Theis and starting almost every game. 

Who is the toughest player that you have played against at the professional level? 

Thats a tough one. But I think probably Christian Standhardinger or Immanuel McElroy . 

If you had to pick your personal favorite starting five of teammates over the years which players would you chose? 

Haha okay point guard for sure my boy Brandon Johnson. On the wings Orlando Parker and Jermel Jones . And on the 4 – 5 Rasheed Moore and Jordan Talbert . 

If you had to construct your very own NBA mount Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick? 

Hmm I would say def Allen Iverson, Jamal Crawford, Lebron and Steve Francis. 

What is your personal opinion about the never ending debate of who is the greatest between Michael Jordan and Lebron James? 

The thing is I never really saw full Jordan games to be honest I grew up with Lebron so to me he is the goat.

What was the last movie that you saw? 

I think the last one was Tower Heist with Eddie Murphy.

Thanks Bill for the chat.

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