TJ DiLeo is a 30 year old 190cm guard that is playing his eighth professional season and eighth in Germany with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He played his first two professional seasons in the Pro A with the Giessen 46ers and then helped the team move to the BBL in 2015. He then moved to the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he is in his fifth season. Currently he has played 170 easyCredit BBL games and 29 Basketball Champions League games and 18 Fiba Europe Cup games. He began his basketball career at Cinnaminson High School and played at Temple (NCAA) from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the tough 91-88 loss against the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim.
Thanks TJ for talking to germanhoops.com. You lost a tough game against Alba Berlin 80-75 and another tough game against Crailsheim 91-88. Even if it may not be a consolation, you must as a team have a certain kind of self-confidence that you can play with the top teams.
Yes for sure. It is all about getting over the hump. We hope to get another signature win soon and win more games down the stretch. It really just comes down to the little things at the end of the game.
The Hakro Merlins Crailsheim came out strong in the first quarter scoring 25 points, but the Telekom Baskets Bonn stepped it up in the second quarter winning 31-15. What adjustments did you make on defense and what was more significant on offense that helped the team score better?
We changed some things on defense with some switches. Also Bell-Haynes was on the bench at that time with a few fouls. On offense we pushed the ball well on transition and got open shots with the kick out. We also moved the ball well and had a good pace.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn had the 47-40 advantage at the break. What did head coach Will Voigt tell the team in the break to concentrate on most in the second half?
He told us to keep the same defensive strategy from the second quarter. He also wanted us to keep moving the ball well and keeping that good pace intact.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn controlled the fourth quarter and had to leads, but in the end couldn’t hold the lead in crunch-time. How key was that Jeremy Jones three pointer for shifting the momentum?
That was really big. He is a really good shooter. We gave up some easy offensive rebounds at the end that led to baskets. We also suffered some defensive mistakes and had some not good possessions on offense.
Just about everything went right for Chris Babb for 36 points, but Bonn only had two guys in double figures while Crailsheim had five guys. Do you feel like another reliable Bonn scorer could have been the difference on this night?
I thought that we moved the ball really well. A lot of times we used the extra pass more than usual. We really could of used Alexander Hamilton tonight. Chris Babb was great. We just kept going to him. I thought that our big men did a good job passing out of the post finding the open guys. We did shoot some bad three pointers.
How key were the 13 Crailsheim offensive rebounds? Was the effort just better by Crailsheim in certain moments on the glass?
I don’t know if we didn’t block out well enough or didn’t get enough of the long rebounds. If the other teams is getting the offensive rebounds down the stretch then it isn’t a good sign for us.
MVP candidate Trae Bell-Haynes is still doing a good job helping his team to wins. But he doesn’t have the explosive stats like in the first three months. Have teams figured him out better or has he changed his game around a bit?
No, I just think that teams are keying in on him more now. He is still a great penetrator that is finding open guys. And when he is open he has the ability to knock down the three. He also is great on transition. Teams are building their defensive game plan more around him. It is pretty respectable when teams are focusing on trying to stop him. He is hard to stop.
It is very tight from 8-13. How determined is the team that the playoffs could still be reality?
Yes we have a chance. We have had games this season where we came from behind and games where we fought until the end. We have to go game by game. We know that we have to win very game to have a chance.
The games don’t get easier with Oldenburg and FC Bayern Munich. Does the team have good self-confidence to beat Oldenburg after playing ell against Berlin and Crailsheim?
We are going into the Oldenburg game with a lot of confidence. We have a lot of trust in our game. We know that we are right there. Oldenburg has a high power offense. We know that we have to be locked in on defense.
I know you see Chris Babb light it up in practice and games, but how special was his 36 points? Was this just extraordinary or just another day at the office for him?
It was definitely a special game for him. We don’t take it for granted for what he does on the court. He does so much on the court. It feels like he will never miss finding that open guy. If he has a shot then he will take it.
How have you seen the development of Killian Binapel this season? How much did he benefit from COVID-19? He only concentrated on the BBL.
He has been great. He does individual work before and after practice. He always plays hard. It isn’t easy for a young player not getting many minutes. He also hasn’t had the opportunity this season to get extra time with Rhondorf. He has played well for us and I’m happy what he has brought to the team. He is a great guy in the locker room.
You had 5/4/7 stats in 30 minutes. Since the 2017 season you have been steady in your scoring stats. Do you expect yourself to be able to be a guy who can average double figures in scoring
I’m not to worried about having to score in double figures. I’m more worried about how successful the team is. If my role was changed to be more of a scorer then I would try to fill my role. Most important for me is to help my team win
You’re a leader and a versatile player that does very much on the court. Now at age 30 what additional things are you trying to give the team to be successful?
I’m trying to lead by example, work hard and communicate on the court. COVID-19 hasn’t been an easy time for anybody. There isn’t really anything to do off the court. Every day is the same so sometimes guys aren’t in good moods. I just try to be positive in practice.
Dino Radja recently said that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook having success with a European team. Do you agree?
At one time he was the most athletic guy in the world. Some NBA guys come overseas and have problems. I don’t think he would. He is a good passer and rebounder. I think he would be successful here. His game can translate to anywhere.
Draymond Greene recently said he is the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree?
I’m not sure. He still has some years ahead of him to keep his game up. I think there are some guys ahead of him now. But he still has some time to change my mind.
Baylor upset Gonzaga by 16 points to win the 2021 NCAA title. How big can one weigh this upset?
People may see it being an upset because Gonzaga was undefeated. Baylor was one of the two best teams. Baylor have guys that can play. I was a bit surprised by how much they won. But I knew how good they were. I wouldn’t call it a upset.
Did you see Coming to America 2 yet? Should they not have left the classic untouched?
I don’t mind watching remakes. It is hard to make a remake and have it compete with the classic. We will see how the new Space Jam will be.
Thanks TJ for the chat.