Jaleen Smith (193-PG-94, college: UNH) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fifth professional season and first with Alba Berlin. He played the last two seasons with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg averaging 15.2ppg, 5.0rpg, Assists-3 (5.3apg), Steals-2 (1.8spg), FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 87.5%; and 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8% the season before. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the brutal 101-63 win against the Fraport Skyliners.
Jaleen congrats on the massive 101-63 victory over the Fraport Skyliners. Please describe playing your first game in the Mercedes Benz arena in Berlin as a Alba player?
The Alba fans are amazing and it was great to see them back in the arena. You could really feel that special atmosphere already with only 50% fans there. I can’t imagine the atmosphere when the whole place had been packed.
How was the week of practice of after the tough loss to the Telekom Baskets Bonn? How aware were the guys that you needed a win 100%?
We were locked in all week long. There was some stuff that we had to work on. Bonn got us defensively on some things. I felt like we prepared very well for Frankfurt and it worked.
Alba Berlin began hot and finished the game strong and consistent. How far was this game from a perfect game?
We had some issues in the fourth and some things we need to work on, but overall it was a good game for us. Coach Israel had stressed that he wanted us to play a complete game for 40 minutes. I feel that we did that.
How much better was Alba Berlin defensively against Frankfurt than they were against Bonn?
We got a lot of steals against Frankfurt. We pressured them well and made them rush too much. Our pick and roll defense was a lot better. Our main focus was to contain them 1-1, ball screens and pick up the full court.
I believe the only bad point were the 17 turnovers. You, Blatt and Lo combined for 9 turnovers. Is acceptable for you to say that your still learning the system?
Yes we are still learning the system. It’s still early. We have only been at it for a month now. The new guys are still learning the system on offense and defense. I feel that as the season goes on and the more games and practices we play, we will all be able to play with each other a lot better.
In how tough shape are the Fraport Skyliners. Are they as bad as the score showed?
Yes I think that they still need to pick up some more imports. It is still early though. Our main focus was on Tez. Donaldson needs to be more aggressive,
Do you feel for a legend like Quantez Robertson who plays out his heart every night and has to watch the horror show on the court?
Yes I do. He came out with so much energy. He plays so hard at age 36 against so many young guys. He is so dedicated having been with Frankfurt for such a long time. He is all blood, sweat and tears for his team. I have so much respect for him. He is like the Kobe of the BBL with his faithfulness to one team. It’s cool to see.
The team lost some key figures form last season with Giffey, Grander and Siva. People don’t have Alba Berlin as strong as last season. When the bigs are healthy again, I think you will see a totally different Alba Berlin that will be strong.
For sure we will be better. We got Ben Lammers back and I feel like we got so much better. Also when the other two bigs return, it will make us better. It can give Schneider and Thiemann the opportunity to move back to the four. It will be big having so many more bigs in the rotation. I thought last season that that team wasn’t as good as the 2019-2020 team, but then they won the title again. It is all a learning process. When are back, we will be really good.
What has been your impression of Yovel Zoosman. How vital of a role will this guy play this season
I feel that he will be like a Fontecchio for us. A guy that plays the 2/3 can shoot the ball well and finish strong. I feel he could be a type of leading scorer for us. I have heard really good things from people and he has shown here that he can play.
You didn’t have a good debut against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Was the last week tough getting ready for a new opponent? It’s never easy to rebound after a slow start.
The mind set that I had was to come out with vengence. I knew that there were people thinking why is he on the team or why did he have 0 points? Key for me this game was being aggressive. I feel like this game helped a little find my identity. I have to continue to be hungry every night, because we are the target for everyone and I need to compete every night.
You got on fire in the second quarter and finished with 13 points. How happy were you with your second game despite the many turnovers?
I thought that I shot the ball really well. I think that I will get easier shots this season than any other time in my career. I think I won’t have to take as many shots off the dribble, but be more that spot up shooter. I think that fits my game most. I also see myself attacking the close outs more. I need to improve my defense. I didn’t play good defense against Frankfurt.
Alba Berlin has many good guards and are deep. You most likely won’t have the stats you had with Ludwigsburg. How big will efficiency play a role in your performance?
That will be big. I will have to be super efficient with the minutes I get. With Ludwigsburg, I played 35-38 minutes and could take plays off. That won’t happen here. Here there will always be guys as good or better and I will always have to go hard and produce as well as possible in the minutes I get.
How do you feel that you will overall profit this season not having that major type of responsibility that you had with Ludwigsburg?
Efficiency will be the biggest challenge for me. I don’t think that I was that efficient in Heidelberg and in Ludwigsburg my first year was ok. I had a set role, but wasn’t as efficient. I will have to pick my spots here as best I can and be efficient. My game will profit from playing less.
How excited are about the Euroleague? What are you looking forward to most when competing against the best in Europe?
I am excited to showcase what I and the team can do. A lot of people aren’t expecting much from us. That will give us extra motivation. I am super excited to play against FC Barcelona that is one of the favorites. We want to come out and make some noise and prove people wrong.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Jaleen for the chat.