Tamir Blatt (184-PG-1997) is a 25 year old 183cm point guard form Israel that is playing his first season in Germany for easyCredit BBL team Alba Berlin. He played the last three years for Hapoel Jerusalem. Before that he played with Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon. The son of famous head coach David Blatt is also a Israeli national player. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the 97-85 game two win over Brose Bamberg.
Thanks Tamir for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on the 97-85 win over Brose Bamberg and comfortable 2-0 series 10 years ago Alba-Bamberg was a brutal rivalry. Now Alba Berlin continues to be at the top and Bamberg has been struggling the last years. Are you aware of the history of the two teams?
Yes for sure. I had heard that Bamberg had been the top team in the BBL some years ago. They won a lot of titles. Now Alba Berlin is the top team. We did a good job protecting our home court against Bamberg. I’m happy that we got the wins and hope it continues.
After a up and down first quarter, Alba Berlin took control in the second quarter getting amazing offensive support from Jaleen Smith and Maodo Lo. How satisfying is it not always having to deal with pressure coming from the bench when they are able to produce so well?
Yes for sure. Both are great players and teammates. We are like a big family with Alba Berlin. We always support each other and want that the other does well. The most important thing for us is to enjoy ourselves on the court.
Alba Berlin kept up the offensive pressure in the third quarter, but also allowed 27 points. Alba Berlin has allowed 87 points on average in the two games. Is the team aware it still needs to up their defensive performance in the playoffs?
Yes for sure. The games have been high paced against Bamberg and a lot of possessions and points. Both teams have very skilled offensive players. We will continue to watch film to correct our mistakes.
Alba Berlin did a super job not letting Bamberg get over the hump in the fourth quarter. What was key for Alba Berlin to be able to close out he game in fine fashion?
We did a good job bearing down on defense and staying focused. On offense we continued to get into good position and work to get good looks and keep scoring.
Alba Berlin demonstrated again that even without Luke Sikma and Ben Lammers, it is able to compensate their absences. Is a total awareness of your roles and consistency one of the biggest strengths of this team?
Every player has to be ready at all times. In some games you might play more and in others less. You have to always be ready to give everything for the team success.
You have proven in young years that you understand what it means to be a good playmaker. Have you learned anything additional about passing from veteran Luke Sikma that you didn’t know before?
I don’t thing that it is something specific about passing. We play different positions and see different things on the court. I can always learn things from him. He is a great leader and teammate.
What has it been like being teammates with Yovel Zoosman? He said this about you to me recently. ‘Yes it has helped him being here and I hope the same for him with me. This is the first time that we are in a new culture. We have been together a lot before coming to Berlin where we were roommates during youth national team times and now are also roommates with Alba Berlin. We spend a lot of time together and it makes it easier for us to enjoy the team and be who we are for the team. When you feel down or weird about something then you feel happy that you can talk to someone from another perspective’. You have known each other for a long time. What do you appreciate most about him?
Yovel and I go way back. We have known each other since we were 17 years old and were roommates with the youth national teams. He is a good friend and we learn a lot from each other. Of course having him here with me made the adjustment a lot easier. This was our first steps out of Israel. Going to a different country for the first time isn’t easy. It is nice to have somebody around that you can talk to in your language.
Your playing your first season with Alba Berlin. What kind of an experience has it been playing for Alba Berlin? How have you experienced the culture of the organization?
Playing for Alba Berlin has been a great experience. Coming to Germany was a big adjustment at first when you played your whole career in Israel. But they welcomed me with open arms right from the start. They are a unique organization that know how to approach everything day by day. There have been ups and downs this season, but I feel that I have matured as a player and person. I also have been able to stay stable mentally through the downs.
What kind of an adjustment has it been coming form the Basketball Champions League to the Euroleague? What was the biggest challenge that you had to face?
The Euroleague is the best league in Europe where the level is very high at both ends of the court. It has been a dream come true being able to play Euroleague and a lot of fun. I hope that it continues for many more years.
You played a lot more minutes with Hapoel Jerusalem the last years. How challenging has it been attempting to be efficient for the time you get?
It has been a big adjustment playing less minutes this season. I came from a situation where I was the main point guard and had the ball in my hands a lot. Plus it was a different system. I knew that I wouldn’t be a starter and would have to be as efficient as possible in the minutes I get. I feel that I have found my way in the last two months where I have shown I can be efficient.
In your last 3 seasons in the Israeli Winner League you averaged around 6 assists a season. What do you need to do as a floor general to reach a new level in your game?
I think key will be just continuing to work hard and being smart will help me develop. I think also the more situations I get in games the more I will improve. I just want to continue to go my path and develop.
You never have been that explosive scorer and defensively a guy who still has a lot of potential. What do you need to do to raise your game in these areas?
Coming to Alba Berlin was good on helping me further develop as a defender. They work a lot on the defensive end. I have learned to be in better position and use my hands more. I also have gotten better being aware of things happening on the court. I think I have been able to implement a lot of what I have worked on in practice in games. I feel I have taken a step up as a defender. On offense there are some games where I will score more and other games where I will be more of a facilitator. Every game has a life of it’s own.
You are a player that has experienced some teams in Israeli. Why didn’t you ever land with Maccabi Tel Aviv considering having a well known basketball figure like your dad?
I don’t know. My goal was always to get out of Israel. Coming to Alba was a no brainer. This is the path I chose and I’m really happy about it.
How important has your dad David Blatt been for your basketball career? Do you feel like you would have been different as a player had you not had a basketball coach as a father?
It has been such a blessing to be able to have a dad that has so much knowledge of the game. We talk everyday. We always gives me different ideas to think about. I have no complaints.
You played your first game against Maccabi Tel Aviv as an 18 year old in 2015. What memories do you have seeing guys like baby Shaq and Jeremy Pargo?
I have had many crazy games in my career from watching them when they played for my dad and then playing against them. That game was one of them
How important were your three years at Hapoel Tel Aviv from 2014-2017? You made a huge jump in your game in your third season
They were the first organization that gave me a chance to play in the first division of Israel. I am forever thankful for their trust in me at age 17. I took a big step in my career there. I really began to work very hard on my game and got stronger physically. I got more disciplined and have been having this attitude up until now. I got more minutes and was able to show what I can do.
You played with so many veterans there like Alando Tucker or Robert Rothbart. Was there a player in that time that really inspired you?
I played with many great players. In my second season when I averaged 15 minutes a game we made a big run. I had teammates like Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons. We lost in the last seconds in game five. But we had a great group of guys and really connected.
You then played a season with Hapoel Holon. Was the guard rotation a big bog that made it hard to get more minutes?
Playing with Hapoel Holon was a good experience. I really grew here as well and got more experience. It was the first time I played BCL. We had ups and downs, but we won the cup. I always put goals to play for winning programs. I also was MVP of the game in a game 5 playoff game that we lost.
Yovel Zoosman described Guy Pnini being a legend. How do you remember your time with him there? Was he a guy that took you under his wing?
Guy Pnini is for sure a living legend. I experience him a bit different than Yovel. I watched him play for my dad and win the Euroleague with 15 and 5 years later I played with him. We won a cup together. It was an unbelievable experience. We still have good connection today. He is one of Israel’s greats to this day.
You played the last three seasons with Hapoel Jerusalem winning 3 league cups. Which one was the sweetest?
Winning the second one was the sweetest. We won the one on our home court with 11,000 watching., That was really special.
Here you also played with incredible veterans including Amare Stoudemire. Did a young Israeli guy become in awe or were you able to stay professional and just enjoy the experience?
In the beginning it was a big deal, but then we began to get to know each other. We sat next to each other in the locker room. Playing pick and roll with him and finding him was an unbelievable experience knowing he played with some of the greatest point guards like Steve Nash.
Last season you had a 20/14 game beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-82. How memorable is a game like that? You haven’t beat them often in your career?
I would say this game was top 5 in my career. We didn’t have a lot of Americans left on the team, because there was a war going on. They didn’t feel safe and the club respected that. Nobody believed that we could win this game. This was an unbelievable game for me.
What are the chances of Israel at the Euro 2022 and how competitive will Israel be?
We have a great group of guys that have been together for some years. I like our chances. I feel that we can have a good tournament. I’m really excited.
Who is the toughest player that you ever faced on the floor so far in your career?
I think Dennis Schroeder. Yovel and me played against him and Germany in 2018 in a qualifying game. We had good games. We lost in OT against Germany.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
That is difficult. I had so many with guys like Nate Robinson, Amare Stoudemire and Guy Pnini.
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore of point guards.
Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose and Fred Van Vleet
What is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all time Jordan or Lebron?
I never talk about it when people are debating it. I have no opinion on it.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Tamir for the chat.