Anell Alexis (wiha Panthers) Alen Velcic Was Willing To Be The Villian Which Took A Lot Of Pressure Off Us

Anell Alexis is a 29 year old 200cm forward that grew up in Germany and the states and completed his fourth professional season and first with the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (Germany-ProB) averaging 6,2ppg and 3,2rpg. In the last years he has gained further experience playing in Panama and in Germany in Bremerhaven and Coburg. He played in the States at schools like Marist (NCAA) where he played 62 games and finished at Norfolk St. (NCAA) playing 34 games averaging 7.3ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 78.3%. He spoke to at the end of the 2018-2019 season.

Anell Alexis and head coach Alen Velcic

Anell thanks for talking to Congrats on an amazing season. How disappointed are you and the club about the season ending in Munster?

Hi Miles, it was a tough way to end the season but games like these are decided by little things, and weren’t able to execute those in game 3. 

The club has some nice road trips home after the game three wins in Wedel and Giessen. How hard was the bus ride home and what were the most active thoughts going through your mind on the trip home from Munster?

It was definitely more quiet than the other two road trips but that’s the way this game goes.

The wiha Panthers had to fight back the whole playoffs and had extreme problems winning on the road early. Why do you feel did the time always have to put themselves in a hole early in the series?

We had a bad tendency of getting off to slow starts. Obviously most of the time we were able to overcome those and win the game but we weren’t able to do that this time 

Let’s talk about game three. Munster led early and you always fought back. In the second half they were able to hold the big double digit lead and at the end you made a big comeback, but time ran out. What is your game three summary as to why you couldn’t win the game?

In my opinion, us missing sixteen free throws in a three point loss was the difference. I feel especially responsible as I missed two in the fourth quarter.

What really was annoying was the many rebounds given up, turnovers and always losing the 50/50 balls. How much of a factor was the mental side in the fourth quarter of game three in Munster?

The turnovers and rebounds were the thing that was the most annoying to me because it gave them multiple chances to score the basketball.

Munster didn’t shoot well from outside in game three going 3/24 and almost always had the same procedure hurting you with their mid distance game. Was this one of the deciding factors that cost you the game?

It was something that we game planned for and decided that we were okay with living with as opposed to them shooting and making threes and getting their crowd into it. Credit to them that they were able to win the game despite us taking away a huge key for them.

Munster have many talented German players, but also some that must have been off the radar of other Pro B teams in Germany. How vital was the overall play of the German players who really stepped up the whole season for a team that nobody would have expected to have reached the 2019 Pro B final?

They play very well as a unit, are well-disciplined, and do not stray away from their game plan or scouting report. Those were the qualities that I found most impressive about that team.

Despite bowing out in the semi-finals how important do you feel was it for German basketball having two Regionalliga teams in the semi-finals? What did you enjoy most about this out of the ordinary playoff series?

I feel that it was something important because it isn’t something that you see every day at this level. The thing I enjoyed the most from this series was the atmosphere that the crowd provided in all three games.

How do you see the Leverkusen-Munster series? Who do you feel will take the series and what will be the keys for both teams to win the title?

Having played both teams this year, I feel like Leverkusen will end up on top in the end. They have a good coach who has played at a high level and gives confidence and freedom to his players, and they are an extremely balanced team offensively.

Let’s talk about the Panthers season. It was a great season. If someone had told you in September that the wiha Panthers would be one game away from reaching the pro B final what would you have thought?

That anything is possible but let’s wait and see. 

The team had it’s ups and downs, but how would you classify it’s development this season and how would summarize how this season went best?

We were a very determined and persistent team, no matter who we played or the situation. We had two game 3’s on the road where we were down by double digits in the second half and were able to pull both those games out for a victory. That is not something that you see very often. 

A big key like for Munster was having that underdog mentality. How important was being able to keep that consistent identity and not letting teams figure you out and just continuing to play your style which often happens during the course of a season?

Like I stated earlier, we had more heart than almost all the teams we played against. That is something that cannot be game planned or accounted for, no matter what an opposing coach draws up.

There were obviously many team highlights during the regular season as well as well as the many exciting wins in the playoffs. If you had to pick one or two team moments that stand out what would you chose?

For me, it would have to be both of the game 3 wins on the road and the celebrations that followed after that.

What was the most satisfying thing for you this season of being able to strap on the wiha Panthers jersey. How was the whole Panthers experience different and unique compared to other clubs that you have balled for?

Professionally, this was different for me because we had a coach who simply refused to let us take our guard down or give anything less than 100% effort. In the end, I feel that was the most important thing at the end of the day.

In our last interview you stressed this about head coach Alen Velcic. ‘He’s a very hard-driving coach but I can appreciate playing for someone like that because there are days throughout the season were the team may not be giving it’s best effort, but he won’t allow us to give anything but that. He is a great motivator and helps everyone fight and give their best’. How do you feel did he develop further as a coach and how hungry will the game three loss make him for next season?

I don’t think he needs any extra motivation to be honest but he definitely became a lot better throughout the year with adjusting in the middle of the game and changing things on the fly.

Let’s talk about your teammates. In our last interview you said this about Rasheed Moore. ‘With the numbers he puts up on a consistent basis he has to be up for consideration. He’s fun to play with because he’s still young so you can see him growing and maturing as a player with every game that we play’. How did you see his development and is he the 2019 Pro B MVP?

He should be the MVP of the league in my opinion but that is not for me to decide. His ability to stay focused throughout the whole course of a game was something that I saw improve tremendously throughout the season.

In our last interview you stated this about Bill Borekambi. ‘The most amazing play would have to be that last layup against Giessen. His body was parallel to the floor and he was still able to make it. He makes really difficult shots on an everyday basis so I can’t even say I’m surprised anymore when I see him make them’. How do you feel did he make another step in his career and do you feel like it would be beneficial for him to remain in Schwenningen and play Pro A?

I don’t think he has anything left to prove to anyone to be quite honest. It’s really what he feels is most beneficial for him and his career. No matter were he goes, he’ll put the ball in the basket.

How much of a pleasure was it playing with captain Kostas Karamatskos? What do you feel was the most vital thing that you learned from him on and off the court that you will never forget?

Biggest thing I learned from Kosta was how to enjoy yourself and the moment while still being serious and getting the job done at a high level.

German Leon Friederici had his ups and downs, but also came up big in the playoffs. He is known as a shooter, but how do you feel did the whole Panthers experience help him with his overall game be able to develop further this season?

As hard as I’ve seen Leon work, I have no doubt he’ll develop superbly over time. As long as he continues that same work ethic as he had during the season, he will accomplish all that he sets his mind to.

Let’s talk about your game. Your job wasn’t to be a scorer, but how content were you with your 7/12 shooting in the Munster series where you did a great job picking your spots?

I was just being aggressive throughout the course of the series. Once I got a feel for how they were going to guard me after Game 1, I was able to take what they gave me going forward and make them pay as much as possible.

You averaged 6,2ppg and 3,2rpg in 21 minutes per game. How content were you with your personal game?

I feel that I could have done more but it was important to me to come into a team that was already successful before I had arrived and fill in any weak spots that they might have had.

You came late to the wiha Panthers and had some time getting integrated. What was the biggest challenge coming in late and how did your game grow in the last months while playing for Alen Velcic?

The biggest challenge was really finding a role in the team that was already in full swing and was successful before I had gotten there. It was also a challenge fitting into a role that was drastically different than the one I had had on my prior team. Without a doubt, my game grew tremendously on the defensive end, with just the amount of aggressiveness I play on that end now.

You didn’t always have to play defense until you came to Schwenningen. Alen Velcic helped you become more physical and aggressive on the defensive end. How will you continue to improve in this part of your game as you might join a team that has that defensive philosophy in their style?

It helped me a lot, mainly because the type of defensive style that I had played before was one of me using my length and quickness to bother people. With this different style, I was able to use both of those attributes while also using my strength while not fouling.

You stated this about head coach Alen Velcic. ‘He doesn’t let up. That’s what I appreciate the most. At the same time, you know he’s doing it with your best interests at heart. That always makes it easier to absorb the message he’s saying and not the way he’s delivering the message’. You have played for many coaches and seen a lot in the basketball world, but one one example will you never forget from Alen Velcic the coach/person that you never saw anywhere else?

He’s different than any other coach that I had ever played for in that he is willing to be the villian in a lot of instances so that it takes pressure off of us as players. People tend to dislke him, but those are all people who don’t know who he truly is as a person. 

What was your season highlight? I would imagine your 19 points in Giessen in game 3?

Yes, that would have to be it given the circumstances and the importance of the game.

What is the next step for you? It seems like the wiha Panthers will play Pro A next season. A logical step for me would be for you to stay. Is that step also logical to you?

Hopefully everything works out for that to happen and they want me back.

In our last interview you stated ‘. Your shot is what ages the best throughout the years so it will always be something that I work on consistently’. How will you seek to improve your shooting this summer besides the usual bla bla? Could you imagine using some different methods to attack this?

Consistent work and nonstop repetition. That is the key in my opinion. 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro B this season?

There were a lot of good players but no one stood out to me more than anyone else. Probably Bill Borekambi in practice.

Who won a one on one in practice this season you or Rasheed Moore?

We never got the chance to play.

German basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki recently retired. What is your personal favorite basketball moment with him?

I grew up watching Dirk play so I was very happy for him when he won the championship in 2011. For him to beat Kobe, Pau Gasol, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh in a single playoff run is incredible.

How do you see the NBA playoffs? What two teams do you see reaching the finals and who will take it all home?

I hope the Celtics end up winning the championship.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Creed II

Thanks Anell for the chat,

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