Patrick Lyons is a 25 year old 187cm point guard from Ireland that is playing his first season in Germany with TuS Bad Aibling Fireballs (Germany-Regionalliga). He began his basketball career with Moycullen (SuperLeague). He also played with Medway Park Crusaders (United Kingdom-EBL D1) and played 7 years with SSE Airtricity Moycullen Galway (Super League) and last season played 17 games averaging 9.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 21.1%, FT: 71.1%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Patrick thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how do you like Germany?
Thank you very much for having me. I’m currently in the beautiful Bavarian town of Bad Aibling. I have loved my time in Germany so far. The people are incredibly kind, the scenery is stunning and the basketball has been very enjoyable.
It is not often that we see Irish players playing in Germany. What does it mean for you to play in Germany and what do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
To me, playing in Germany means I am taking another progressive step in my basketball career. It means I get to achieve a long-term goal of mine: to play basketball at a professional level outside of Ireland. Whenever I finish playing basketball, I want to say that I pushed myself to progress as far as I could, and tried to reach my full potential. It’s nice to be added to the short list of Irish players who have played here. I have competed against and looked up to all of those guys. Seeing those guys do it, helped me to visualise that I can do it. What I know about Germany is that it’s a proud nation that it is rich in culture and history. Germany produces some of the best beer, bread, wurst and cars in the world. In basketball, Germany has produced some world class players. Germany has strong, well-ran leagues with a healthy mix of domestic and international players.
I remember some years ago this talented Irish lad by the name of Paul Dick who wrecked havoc in the German Regionalliga. Did you talk to him about Germany and get some tips?
Paul Dick is a tough and talented player. He is always a key factor of our scouting reports in the Irish SuperLeague. Yes, I caught up with Paul before coming over and he had some great advice for me. I also caught up with another Irish player and friend, Adrian O’Sullivan. He played at Ademax Red Devils Bramsche in the Regionalliga last year and is now playing in Spain at Aquimisa Carbajosa in LEB Plata.
You played many years in Ireland and now have joined German Regionalliga team TuS Bad Aibling Fireballs (Germany-Regionalliga). What were the main reasons for joining this Bavarian team?
I’m grateful for the opportunity Bad Aibling Fireballs have given me. One of the first things I noticed was the strong community values the Bad Aibling Fireballs club has. My home club, Moycullen Basketball, also places a huge importance on community and place. At Moycullen, playing and competing is just one element of being a club member. I firmly believe in this culture and could tell this was the same at Bad Aibling. I’ve already enjoyed helping with coaching and helping on game day for the other teams.
What has been your early impression of German basketball? How would you compare the Regionalliga to the Irish Super League.
We have only had a few preseason games so far so it’s hard to compare, but I think there are a lot of similarities. COVID-19 has caused a knock-on effect to clubs in terms of budgets, player availability, etc. It might result in a totally different league this year.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 187cm point guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Tough question, thanks to Rory Gilson for helping me with this one. If I had to compare my game to someone, I think I would go with Jrue Holiday. Holiday is versatile on offence and is solid defensively. He is strong in transition and does a great job at drawing the help and finding the open guy. Most importantly to me, Holiday is a leader and a fantastic teammate. He was recently awarded NBA teammate of the year. Holiday doesn’t need to be the top scorer or the loudest voice. He stays calm, leads by example and his teammates can rely on him.
In the last years at SSE Airtricity Moycullen Galway you weren’t that explosive scoring point guard, but it seemed a player that could do a bit of everything. Is that a fair assessment?
Yes, I’ve been the team captain at Moycullen for the past few seasons where my role has been to be a player that does a bit of everything on a young, majority home-grown team. We had a decent spread of scoring across the team, and while not focusing on being an out and out scorer, I found my scores within the offence and when needed. (9PPG on 4.5FGA’s)
In the German Regionalliga there is a lot of scoring from import guards. Would you be up to the challenge if coach told you the team needs a lot of scoring?
It’s often the same in the SuperLeague with import guards, especially when they’re from the US. I’ve spoken with Coach Wichote and I am clear on what I need to do to help the team. We have a nice combination of experienced and younger players. I like how we have been progressing through preseason and I think I’ll be able to score the way coach wants me to.
Talk a little about your strengths on the court. What do you feel is your absolute biggest asset on the court?
I feel like the qualities mentioned above in the comparison question speak to my strengths. I think my versatility on defence is one of my biggest assets. Defence is tough and it’s tiring but I like it. I like to defend aggressively and can guard multiple positions/players. I love how momentum can swing with good defence.
What do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I think a hidden strength that doesn’t get noticed right away is my ‘engine’. I have worked hard to condition my body which allows me to keep my energy output high for long periods.
On what areas of your game did you work on most this summer so you would be best prepared for the new challenge in Germany?
Due to COVID, it was difficult to get into a gym from March onwards. However, I saw this as an opportunity to try new ways of training. I started training with an elite sprinting group at athletics club, Galway City Harriers, which I really enjoyed. The training was extremely helpful for basketball, (speed, power, endurance, strength, etc.), but I also loved the challenge of trying a totally new sport. My coach, Brendan Glynn and the entire group are amazing. It was fantastic to be around such a focused group of athletes, especially during such a challenging time. We trained independently and connected virtually when restrictions were high. As things lifted slightly, we started training together. I was really happy to finish the season by running in my first ever 200m race at the National Championships. Through the first full lockdown, I did the Insanity exercise program to help stay in shape. As restrictions lifted, I spent a lot of time working on my jump-shot.
How much of a challenge has it been having a day job in Ireland and also being a professional player? How do you feel were you able to help your game most despite possibly at times not having all the resources available due to having a normal day job?
It’s a challenge but for a lot of players, it’s all we know. Currently, there isn’t really money or a framework for players in Ireland to just focus on basketball. You have to be good at organising your day to get the most out of every hour. I found it easier to train when I was in university and had a part time job. It was when my career in marketing started to progress, things became tougher to manage. After some fantastic experiences, I decided to put my marketing career on hold to pursue some of my basketball and life goals.
You played the last 6 seasons with SSE Airtricity Moycullen Galway winning one league title. How do you feel did your game grow most in these years?
I grew up in Moycullen. Over the past few years, I quickly went from being one of the young guns on the team to one of our most senior and experienced players. In my earlier years, my game developed by soaking up everything I could from our import and experienced players. Puff Summers and Salva Camps both really helped me establish myself as a point guard. More recently, my game has grown through having a good relationship with my coach, John Cunningham. John has helped the entire team grow and develop over the past few seasons. He helped me to look at certain areas of my game that needed tweaking or addressing and worked with me to improve them.
Back in the 2015-2016 season you had the great opportunity to play Fiba Europe Cup. Was that the coolest experience that you have had as a professional player?
It was an amazing experience to play for Team Hibernia in the Fiba Europe Cup. Yes, as I think back on it I think it was the coolest experience I have had so far.
You had some very tough loses being outscored in 2 games to top Czeck Republic team Nymburk by 227-90. What memories do you have form those severe blow outs?
The losses were tough but I was just focused on enjoying the journey. I was the youngest on the team and just wanted to take it all in and contribute as much as possible when I was on the floor. I remember Nymburk had some loud home fans, even when they were up by 50!
In one of the games you played against Czech legend and ex NBA player Jiri Welsch. Was it an overwhelming feeling seeing a player like that on your home court?
When the game starts I don’t really think about those things. It’s nice to say that we played against Jiri but it wasn’t overwhelming. He only played for 8 minutes in that game, perhaps he was more interested on enjoying his trip to Ireland.
Back in 2014 you were set to play at Tennessee Temple University (JUCO), but didn’t attend. What were the main reasons for not playing in the United States?
I attended Tennessee Temple University but I joined a little late. The coach there reached out to me at the very end of the summer so we decided that I would join during the semester break. While my experience there was extremely positive, unfortunately, it was short-lived. The school closed down in the summer of 2015. After a summer of working in Boston I had interest from a few new schools. However, I decided to return to Ireland.
In 2018 you played at the European Championship for Small Countries in San Marino winning the Bronze. What memories do you have of that and where do you keep your medal today?
This was a huge personal achievement for me. I’ve represented my country at underage level but have always dreamed of playing for the senior team. I wasn’t sure if I would make the final 12 but I got the opportunity and grabbed it. Playing against 229cm, (7’6′), Samuel Deguara from Malta is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget!
How is the state of Irish basketball in 2020? How have you seen the development in the last years and what are the main problems why the sport isn’t as established as in the UK?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the 2020 Irish basketball calendar. Without considering the pandemic, I think the current state of Irish basketball is quite good. I came through the underage system during the tail-end of some really bad financial times for the National Governing Body. Thankfully, these times are over. Since then, I believe basketball in Ireland has had a strong and healthy growth across all areas, including: general awareness & promotion; development & participation; and performance & success at elite levels, (nationally and internationally). To borrow from the Business Lifecycle idea, I think that Irish Basketball is still in a rapid growth phase. There is a long way to go, but the Irish basketball community is strong and passionate and there is a lot to be proud of. Regarding the UK comparison, I think it would be an interesting study. At an elite senior level, there’s no denying that Team GB/the UK is further ahead. However, considering just England instead of the whole UK, and looking at basketball as a whole, I think the level of establishment in both countries is a lot closer than people think. I might dare to say that in relevant terms, basketball in Ireland is more/better established, at least in certain areas. One to discuss with some of my peers in England maybe!
Who is the best player that you ever faced on the court that played in the NBA or in Europe?
When I was with Hibernia in the FIBA Europe Cup, we played against Chasson Randle with CEZ Nymburk. He’s currently with the Golden State Warriors. I played at the City of Palms Classic tournament in Florida in 2013 with Barking Abbey, (London). There were some big names at the tournament that year, D’Angelo Russell, Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Jahlil Okafor, Grayson Allen, etc.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
I have had some amazing teammates so it’s hard to name just 5. Not including all of my Moycullen teammates over the years; Pat Sullivan, Justen Best, Joseph Lockwood, Tomas Mitkus, Oisin Kerlin.
Please construct your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and for Germany, Dirk Nowitzki
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I don’t think it should be a debate until LeBron finishes playing.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Murdair Mham Trasna. It’s a docu-drama about a gruesome and mysterious murder that took place in 1882 in an extremely remote area of the west of Ireland, not too far away from my home town. An innocent man was wrongly convicted and hanged for the murders. The movie is in Irish but here is a great podcast about it in English. https://irishhistorypodcast.ie/category/podcast/the-maamtrasna-murders/
Thanks Patrick for the chat.