Jaleen Smith (193-PG-1994, college: UNH) is a 27 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 eurobasket after the 78-73 win over ratiopharm Ulm.
Congrats Jaleen on the big 78-73 win over ratiopharm Ulm. How big is a win like this against a tough Ulm team where you were unable to play consistent for 40 minutes?
They are really good team and they are missing one of their better players at the moment. I’m sure we’ll see them in the playoffs soon.
You swept ratiopharm Ulm this season. You hadn’t seen them in a very long ago. Is this a team that could be a kind of dark horse candidate in the playoffs?
Yeah I think they can be a dark horse in the playoffs. They have a really good team and I believe they are still in the top 4 right now for playoff seeding. Plus they definitely want to send Per on a high note to end his career.
You most likely played your last time against German legend Per Guentehr. What stands out most in your mind in the three years where you battled against him that you won’t forget?
He’s a smart basketball player. I remember a year before I played him, when I was still in Heidelberg, he was shooting these long range three like it was nothing. I’ve always heard good stuff from his former teammates I’ve played with. The league will definitely miss him for sure.
Alba Berlin scored a solid 25 points in the first quarter but allowed 18 points. To how much percent from 100% away was the team away from playing the kind of Alba Berlin offense that coach wants to see?
I mean we come into every game playing our style of basketball whether it be ULM, Munich, or Bamberg. We just try and play our best basketball when the games starts.
Basketball works in funny ways. You led 40-20 in the second quarter and then allowed a 22-3 run to lead only 43-42 at the break. What was most key on the defensive game plan against ratiopharm Ulm that you couldn’t do during this run?
They started being more aggressive offensively and defensively and we couldn’t match their physicality during their run. We had trouble running offense but we picked it up in the second half to win the game.
In the run ex NBA player Sindarius Thornwell scored the first 7 points and 12 points in total in the run. What is most difficult to slow down in his game?
He was drawing fouls really well and he was getting into the paint. Him and Christon was really hard to slow down during their run in the second quarter.
What did coach tell you guys in the half time, that allowed you come out focused and regroup and win the third quarter 27-16?
Just play our game and match there physicality is all. We came out and fulfilled the task really good.
Sindarius Thornwell made it real exciting at the end hitting two three pointers to cut the Berlin lead down to 77-73 with 4 seconds to go. Can one say that the clock was your best friend on this day?
We knew it would come down to free throws in the end but those were some big 3s by him so the clock was our ally in the end.
Alba Berlin was up by 8 points after 30 minutes, but couldn’t muster anything offensively in the fourth scoring only 8 points. A total let down on defense would have cost you the game. What do you feel did the team learn from the last quarter?
We may need to run a little more I think we kind of slowed down in the 4th quarter but it’s basketball it happens that you have those games and that’s why we pride ourselves in our defense for games like today.
Describe matching up against ex NBA player Semaje Christon. How much film do you watch on a guy like that leading up to the game?
I’ll watch the same amount on everyone. Just whenever we watch film as a team to breakdown their team.
Malte Delow had another solid game scoring 11 points. How have you seen his development? Would it be fair to say that he belongs to the young Alba guys that really made a huge step this season?
He’s improved through the year having a lot more confidence in his offensive ability these last couple of weeks scoring really well for us. It’s always nice to see young players developing right in front of you. It’s just a credit to ALBA to what they are doing here with the youth.
With the Euroleague season over, how confident are you that the club will be able to make another step going into the post season with more time for recovery and preparation for BBL teams?
Now the full focus is BBL. I think the whole Euroleague season has just prepared us for the rest of the season to face whatever is going to happen. We’ve seen some of the best in the world and we’ll be ready for whatever any BBL team throws at us.
I guess you won’t catch the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but if things go well could still reach number two. The schedule looks very beneficial for you going into the playoffs with a wining streak.
Yeah were just worried about taking it one game at a time right now and if the games line up for us to take 1 then so be it but we’re still here to improve every way we can to reach the ultimate goal.
You had a solid first Euroleague season averaging 8/2/2. How do you summarize your own play this season? What were the highs and lows?
I’ve constantly improved through out the year. From not having any impact on the team to being one of the key guys to end the season it’s been a crazy 8 months of games but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
You stepped up your game in the last weeks in the easyCredit BBL. What do you need to do with your game in the last games so you will be ready for the playoffs?
I just need to keep doing whatever the team needs to win these games if that’s scoring, rebounding, running the point, or guarding the best player then I’m ready for the challenge.
What was your personal take on Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock? How would you have handled the situation?
I think it was just a joke he gets paid to do stand up comedy so I’m sure it was nothing offensive about it. Will Smith took it out of context but he was standing up for his wife with a serious condition. So as a man I definitely respect it to defend his wife from the joke but he didn’t have to slap him haha.
Thanks Jaleen for the chat.