Mubarak Salami (198-SG-1996) is a 26 year old 198cm shooting guard playing for the Eimsbuettler TV Hamburg. He also has gained experience playing with clubs like VfL Stade, Itzehoe Eagles (ProB), Basketball Club Rendsburg (Regionalliga), TSV Neustadt temps Shooters (Regionalliga) and the TKS 49ers RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (ProB). He has belonged to the top Pro B players the last two seasons. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Mubarak for the chat. Where are you and how is basketball life treating you?
I’m in Hamburg at the moment, enjoying the time I still have here and continuing to work on my game.
It’s been a tough season for Eimsbuettler TV Hamburg. The team moved up from the Regionalliga into the Pro B and will move right back. When you began the season would you have believed if somebody had said the team would only win 2 games?
It’s really been a very tough season for us. Of course our goals were to win more games, and personally I was definitely hoping for more, but we just didn’t have the conditions, especially financially, to really do much, the league is too strong for that.
Is there some consolation that Hamburg isn’t as bad as pro A team Ehingen? They won only 1 game until now. When you lose so much do does one ever get used to winning?
It’s no consolation that we didn’t do as badly as Ehingen. I always want to win and if I don’t win I don’t take the right to look at other people and say how bad they are. I look to the best because I want to be the best
The team averaged 72 points per game and allowed 95 points. Why couldn’t the team ever find an identity on the defensive end?
We have a very small rotation so there is a big load on a few shoulders and we get tired quickly. Defense is mostly a gamble and you can’t play defense when you’re tired. In addition, we have difficulties, especially on the positions 4-5 against the teams, which means that we constantly have mismatches
You got easyCredit BBL offers before this season. You remained in Hamburg to help out your family. How beneficial was it playing another season in the Pro B where you upped your game again?
Because I played another season in the Pro B, I was able to work and learn a lot on my game through the many playing experiences. However I’m very hungry to learn more at a higher level as I don’t think I’ve shown everything I can do yet. I didn’t know much about basketball until I was about 15/16, I just gambled without thinking and threw the ball in the basket
Let’s talk a little about your game. You were a street baller growing up. Who were your German basketball role models growing up?
I really only knew Dirk Nowitzki, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant at the time and wanted to be like them because the three of them just wanted to win like me.
You’re a 198cm shooting guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
If I had to compare myself to an NBA player, it would be something between James Harden and Luka Doncic because they are also relatively tall, strong guards, but they also pass very well and can rebound although of course they do it on a different level.
You have been a scorer for many years. What is your secret to having unstoppable moves on the drive?
Back then, I mainly developed my scoring moves through instincts while gambling. And when I realized how good I can actually be, I worked a lot on these moves and developed them further. This resulted in some unconventional moves that are not easy to defend.
In the last two years you have really upped your assists. Talk a little about the development of your playmaking skills?
Lately I’ve been trying to learn a lot from Luka Doncic, James Harden and LeBron James and how they can steer the game and their passing qualities so I’ve found passing more and more fun.
Your three pointer continues to be a work in progress. Your averaging almost 8 turnovers a game. How do you see yourself being able to control that in the easyCredit BBL?What is your biggest problem with taking care of the ball?
I take a lot of heavy threes in the game and also a lot late in the shot clock because I have a lot of responsibility. As a result, my rate suffers extremely. It’s similar with the turnovers, because I have the ball in my hands for almost the entire game and am doubled at every opportunity. It’s often good and correct passes that I play that can’t be used because we don’t have a very broad base. Still, I need to get a better handle on these things and I’m confident that I’ll improve that a lot at higher level.
Hamburg head coach Sukran Gencay discovered you. In all the years that you have worked with her, what do you feel has been the most vital thing she has helped you with your game?
Above all, Suekran helped me to take basketball seriously, to see it from a different perspective and to show me what potential I have. I grew up in a rather bad environment, didn’t trust anyone, used to be very wild and messed up a lot. Suekran had a hard time with me, but over the years I’ve learned to express my emotions with basketball and to put my strength into it. That was the lesson I needed the most besides what she taught me on the basketball court of course.
You have moved around a lot already in your young career playing in Stade, Itzhoe, Rendsburg, Neustadt and Stahnsdorf. How have all these places shaped you as a player and person?
I gained a lot of experience by getting around a lot, which I also needed! I was still at the very beginning of my basketball and human development. Because I got to know many different people and characters, I was able to learn a lot
What memories do you have of your time in Itzehoe? How influential was a Pat Elzie for you as a young player?
When I was at Itzehoe we had very strong players there and Pat Elzie is an incredible coach. It was my first time getting to know organized basketball and Pat taught me an incredible amount in a short time. I am very grateful to him for that
You were teammates with experienced guards Kosta Karamatskos and Flavio Stuckemann. Did one of these guys turn into a mentor in the time that you were there?
With Kosta and Flavio I also met real leaders on the field for the first time. They dealt with all situations very differently, much more professionally. I also took a lot from them for my future path.
You played two seasons in Neustadt and made a huge jump in scoring in your second season. How do you feel did your game grow in that last Regionalliga year for you?
In my second year in Neustadt, I mainly improved physically and also learned a lot from Allen Ray Smith, who is now training the Pro A team in Bremerhaven. He definitely helped me in my leap as a scorer to the next level!
Who is the toughest player that you have played against in your career so far on the court?
Probably Niklas Geske and Justus Hollatz. Not because they score a lot, but because both are incredibly smart guards who control the game and give the team what they need with a winning instinct. And I like players who always want to win.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
The best players I played with were Abdulai Abaker, Jack Fritsche, Flavio Stueckemann, Kosta Karamatskos and Sevastian Abundance.
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
My Mount Rushmore: Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Allen Iverson. These are also the ones who serve as role models and inspire me the most
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
I don’t like this debate because we should just appreciate the basketball they’re playing, and I don’t think you can compare the two either. Both are goats and I am grateful to them for what they have given to basketball. But if I HAVE to choose, I will always choose MJ. Simply because I can personally identify more with his I don’t care who is in my way or what you thinking/saying I will win attitude.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I saw part of it and I find it very difficult to take up classics again and do them justice anyway because it’s too difficult and never works anyway. That’s why I think they should have let it go and stayed the classic-classic.
Thanks Mubarak for the chat.