Basketball Life For Jermale Jones(Nift Al-Shamal Iraq-Superleaguen) Has Never Been Dull Going From The Streets Of Lich To Baghdad

Jermale Jones (186-G-86, college: Tuskegee) is a 35 year old 186cm guard from Birmingham, Alabama is playing his 11th professional season and first with Nift Al-Shamal (Iraq-Superleaguen): Last season he played in Switzerland playing for Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-NLB) averaging 18.1ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-5 (3.8apg), Steals-3 (2.6spg), FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 76.7%. He can look back at a long career having played 6 seasons in Germany with 5 in Lich and 1 in Bernau while also getting experience in Luxemburg with Black Star Mersch (Luxembourg-N2) and played two seasons with CS Politehnica Unirea Iasi (Romania-Liga Nationala). He spoke to on his 35th birthday.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Jermale Jones in Frankfurt, Germany

Jermale thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

I’m currently in Iraq and basketball is treating me well. We had a slow start but we will pick it up.

You turned 35 today. Do you cherish birthdays as you get older more than say 10 years ago where the world was fine?

Yes every year I cherish my birthday because God gives me my health and strength to make it each year.

Last season you played with Swiss Central having a very solid season averaging 18.1ppg 3.3rpg, Assists- (3.8apg), Steals-3 (2.6spg), FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 76.7%. Was there any thought of having continued your career there?

I would have went back if I had a chance to but things didn’t work out like that. So when one door closes another door opens.

Covid seems to be acting up again. How has it been experiencing it in Iraq where you ball now? Are the protocols any different to what you saw in Europe and the States?

Yes it’s very different here compared to Europe & in the states. In Europe they start closing things ASAP, in the states they close things gradually but here it’s not even talked about.

Your playing for Nift Al-Shamal (Iraq-Superleague) this season. The most logical question is was money the biggest factor in helping you make the decision to play there?

No it wasn’t all about the money, but it was more about the opportunity and getting a chance to play in a different market to show myself also.

What kind of experience has it been balling in Iraq? How would you compare the skill level and play compared to other leagues that you have played in?

I have had a great experience so far. Walking through the streets of Baghdad was the best experience for me. Never in my life would I have thought that I would be walking through that city. Comparing this league in Iraq is really hard to say because it’s very different and each team is only allowed 1 foreign player.

Your team Nift Al-Shamal has started slowly. What have been the biggest problems that the team has faced that hasn’t allowed you to win more games?

We have a very young and inexperienced guys that’s the cause of the slow start but things lately have been getting better and they are starting to understand what it takes to work to be successful & to win games.

How big is the challenge this season for you to lead the team to success? How inviting are your Iraqi teammates to an American leading the charge?

My challenge for me is just lead the team the best way I can. Teach the young guys things from my experience and show them small details to help them be a better player. My teammates are very welcoming and they take my advice on a lot of things I say to them on the court.

You have put up very good numbers as usual. It seems like your getting better with age. Do you feel like your game has come to a new level?

Yes every year it seems like another level of myself is unleashed. During the summer working so hard in the gym and learning new things from guys that have played on a very high level every summer helps my game tremendously.

Your 35 years old. You continue to be that lethal scorer. Does the game become more fun as you get older and you can still be able to compete with young bucks?

Yes, being a scorer is natural to me and the game is very fun because the younger guys always joke about me being a little older but then when going up the court I’m still so faster than them. So I always have a lot of fun and jokes with my teammates.

Do you continue to watch the same NBA guys and their games for inspiration or does every now and then a new guy pop up where you try to get inspiration from?

I don’t watch the NBA that much. I only watch when it comes down to the playoffs. Those are the most important games and watching those games and how players handle themselves in certain pressure moments helps me learn.

What has it been like for you as an American living in Iraqi. Was there any doubt at first to do this? How have you been welcomed in that country as an American?

Well before I decided to come I did my research and all over the media it said do not travel to Iraq because it’s very dangerous and bad. I prayed about it and God lead me to go. I have been here a month now and I haven’t had any problems. Everyone looks to help me and make sure I don’t need anything. The media makes this place sound really bad.

Have you celebrated any wild party’s in owners palaces? What has been your most interesting experience that you have had living in a new culture?

I haven’t been to any parties.

Rickey Paulding is retiring this season. You watched him for years. What legacy will he leave in the BBL when all is said and done? Would it be fair to say he was the greatest American that ever played in that league?

His name will forever be rememberd and his dedication to the game won’t go unnoticed. He had a great career but I wouldn’t say that he was the best American that played in the BBL

Your buddy Quantez Robertson has a nasty injury. How much longer will he play? Could you imagine him playing until his body breaks down?

Yes Tez is a warrior. He will play until he can’t anymore. He might give it 5 more years. He will be back playing in no time.

Some NBA experts have stated that Anthony Davis isn’t a top 5 player at the moment and needs to make the next step now with Lebron Hurt. What is your opinion on that?

I really don’t have one because I haven’t watched much of the NBA

Have you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?

They shouldn’t have tried to do a part 2. Part 1 was good enough.

Thanks Jermale for the chat.

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