Competing Against Team USA Was A Great Experience For Philip Jalalpoor(Iranian National Team)

Philip Jalalpoor being guarded by 2021 NBA champion Jrue Holiday

Philip Jalalpoor (188-G-93, college: UBC, agency: Blacktop Management) is a 28 year old 188cm Iranian guard that is currently playing with Iran at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan. He was born in Schifferstadt, Germany and began his basketball career with the BIS Baskets Speyer in 2010. He then played college ball in North America from 2013-2018 starting with Lower Columbia College (JUCO) and then played a season with Olds College (Canada-CCAA). He then finished at the University of British Columbia (Canada-CIS) where he played from 2015-2018 and as a senior averaged 16.6ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.5apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 44.2%, 3FGP: 36.3%, FT: 67.9%. he played his first three professional seasons in Spain, Austria and Germany for teams Bodegas Rioja Vega Logrono (Spain-LEB Gold) averaging 3.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.0apg, SKN St. Poelten Basketball (Austria-BSL) averaging (18.6ppg, 6.4rpg, Assists-1 (6.9apg), FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 68.3% and last season played for medi Bayreuth averaging 2.2ppg. He spoke to after he battled against team USA.

Thanks Phil for talking to If someone had told you 2 months ago after the easyCredit BBL season ended that you would be playing at the 2021 summer Olympics what would you have thought?

My pleasure! Well the Iranian Basketball federation had shown interest last summer so I knew I will have the opportunity to fight for a spot in the training camp for the Olympics. And now I am obviously really grateful that it all worked out.

After you found out that you would go to the Summer Olympics how many messages did you get? What was the coolest message that you got from someone that you not necessarily would have thought would come?

I received quite some messages and that meant the world to me since a lot of those people with their continued support are part of the reason, I ended up making it. Probably the coolest messages were from young athletes that have been following my journey and said that this brought a lot of inspiration and hope to them. And that is what it’s all about for me!

Playing at the 2021 Summer Olympics is obviously your biggest experience in your young basketball career. How have you experienced your time there? What has been the most overwhelming thing that you have had to contend with?

It definitely is an unbelievable experience and I am enjoying every second of it. I think just the confirmation that anything really is possible is making these moments even more special. Overall especially the village experience being among and getting to know some of the best athletes in the world has been a lot of fun.

The total Summer Olympics experience would have been different without COVID. What has been your impression with how everything has been run by the organization of the Olympic committee? Have you felt comfortable?

That is true and it would have been a great experience to play in front of fans and getting to see more of Tokyo but understandably keeping everybody safe should be the top priority. I can obviously only speak for myself, but I had a great experience so far and I have everything I need. I am feeling very comfortable and I think the organizers are doing all they can to provide everybody with the best experience possible.

You lost against Team USA 120-66. Were you in total awe? Was it difficult getting in game mode with your emotions playing against the best players in the world?

That was a rough game, but the result is a lot worse than it should have been. I think a lot of players were trying too hard to show that we can compete with the best in the world and therefore we ended up not playing the way we usually do. Also, Team USA had a great game especially from the 3point line and played very aggressive since they had to bounce back after losing to France. Those two factors in combination obviously did not lead to a good result

Team USA offense is based on ball movement that legendary head coach Gregg Popovic lives by. They had problems against France but not against Iran. What was the toughest thing that Iran had to handle on the court?

I think their switch defense ended up being our biggest problem. We did not execute well and rarely took advantage of the resulting mismatches. This allowed them to get stops, get comfortable, and get out running. Also, on defense we did not really force them to play like a team lacking especially second and third rotations which played into their hands by allowing them to play simple offenses.

Team USA have let up many points and don’t defend the way teams do in Europe. What was it like for you standing on the court and showing your abilities against the best players in the world?

Team USA has so many incredible players. Of course, their defense seems to be more based on simply stopping guys 1on1 versus the team defense in Europe. But I would not say that they are a bad defensive team. Especially when Green was out there leading the way, it was extremely difficult to get any open looks. It was obviously a great experience playing against these guys, but I approach every game the same way by trying to make a positive impact at all times.

Which player impressed you the most which you might not have thought before the game? You played 10 minutes getting 4 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists. How happy were you with your own performance? You took 2 shots. Were you pleased with your aggressiveness?

I think they are all great players, but I was too focused on trying to get us back into the game, so I was not able to pay close attention to what player was especially impressive. I honestly was not upset about my performance since I did what the coaching staff wanted me to do. I think we played well in the time I was on the court and that is all I can control. But I still think we could have made this a way more competitive game.

What was your personal favorite play in the game? Maybe one of your 3 assists? What was it like playing against Damian Lillard, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday? How do you feel were you able to hold your own against these top players?

Yea maybe one of the assists when I was able to get by Holiday and kick it out for a corner 3. That play is still in my mind. Those guys are at a level that everybody is trying to get to in their careers, so it was a good experience to see what they do on the court and to see for myself that I am able to hold my own at that level.

What was it like seeing Draymond Green on the court? Many say he is one of the best defenders ever. How did you experience his defense?

His defense is obviously incredible, but one of the things that stood out the most is how much he communicates. He is constantly talking getting everybody on the same page and picking up his teammates when they need it. Also, we ended up talking after the game and he is a really genuine and nice person.

You have showed your scoring abilities in the CIS and Austria. What exactly is your role on the team?

I am all about winning so I do whatever the coaches/organizations need me to do for them. In those seasons my role was to score the basketball and I was able to showcase my abilities in that regard. Now, I was brought to the national team here to organize the game and to make sure we move the basketball. We have a lot of aggressive players that look to score so I was brought on to complement that style by putting players into good positions and by making sure we execute as a team when we need to.

What kind of a relationship do you have with Behnam Yakhchali? He had a great season in the German Pro A. Are you surprised that a guy like that wasn’t in the easyCredit BBL?

Behnam is a great guy and a really talented player. I think it was difficult to go directly from the Iranian league to the BBL so the season in the Pro A was perfect for him. He was able to adapt and show everybody he deserves to get a chance in the BBL. I am really happy it all worked out for him and I expect him to have a great season.

Is Behnam Yakhchali a player where you enjoy trying to soak up as much from as possible on the court?

It is very easy to play with Behnam because he is an intelligent player that constantly makes the right decision. So, I think the times we are on the court together we play well.

What kind of an experience is it being teammates with legend Hamed Haddadi? What is he like off the court? Does he tell any stories from his NBA time?

Hamed truly is a legend. It has been a lot of fun getting to know him and he is the nicest and most humble guy you will ever meet. Of course, he has a lot of great stories and it was a true honor for me to compete alongside him. This guy can pass the ball like no other big man I have ever seen.

Iran played very well against the Czech Republic. What was your impression of them? They are a very hungry team. Could they upset USA?

The Czech Republic have shown especially through the Olympic qualifying tournament that they are a great team. They play together and obviously have some exceptional players. I think they are capable of anything if they have a good day, but beating the USA is definitely a big challenge.

What has been your coolest experience at the Summer Olympics? Have you met any interesting athletes from other countries?

I think the best thing is just talking to all the athletes. I have met so many fascinating people with incredible stories. How they have put in 20+ years of work into this one big moment and how difficult it was to get here. Just listening and hearing some of those stories is something that I will forever be grateful for.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Sandy Wexler

Thanks Philip for the chat

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