Maodo Lo (191-PG-1992, college: Columbia) Lo is a 29 year old 191cm guard playing his second professional season with Alba Berlin. Before coming to Berlin, he played two years with Brose Bamberg and two years with FC Bayern Munich. He is a German national player and has won 5 professional titles. He began his career at Central Hoops Berlin and played 4 years at Columbia (NCAA) amassing a total of 119 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com before game 2 of the 2022 easyCredit BBL finals against FC Bayern Munich
Congrats on the massive 86-73 win over FC Bayern Munich in game 1 of the finals. It was a tight affair for 30 minutes, but Alba Berlin took control in the fourth quarter. What was key for getting the win?
I felt that we had more energy at the end and that was key. We supplied more pressure on defense and I think that It also wasn’t easy that Munich had had such a tough series against Bonn a few days earlier. That really played into our hands.
Your playing your second season with Alba Berlin. What kind of a feeling is it playing for the organization that didn’t give you the time of day early in your career?
At the end of the day, it’s Berlin. It’s home for me. I have absolutely no hard feelings that they didn’t recruit me early in my career. It is different for guys like Mattissek and Delow who played here since they were kids. I was taught a different school. But Alba Berlin represents where I grew up. I still feel like I have a very strong identification to Alba Berlin.
You have won 5 professional titles. Do you feel like your killer instinct and hunger to win more grows with every new title?
Yes of course. Once you start to win, you want to keep doing it as much as possible. Now I can win again. I want to win this title as much as my first one. I want to achieve the most possible in my career and get a certain level of satisfaction through it.
Alba Berlin has a very talented and deep roster, but how key is the guard rotation of Smith, Blatt and you for the overall success of the team?
It is big. I think that we have great chemistry. We are all super unselfish. This is a key component as we can all use our strength. They are all unselfish and so am I. I would say that none of us are really ball dominated. Once we see a guy open we get rid of the ball. I don’t think that I would be as successful somewhere else in a system where the play wasn’t unselfish. I flourish in the Alba Berlin system.
What kind of an experience has it been playing with Jaleen Smith? When he was a rookie in the Pro A you were already a Euroleague player. What strides have you seen him take in the BBL the last 3 years?
I think he has steadily improved the last years. He showed it in Ludwigsburg and has continued this season. He needed an adjustment period here at first, but that is normal. But he is really comfortable and is playing great. I’m really happy for him. He is a super human being. He is a pure soul.
Everybody has their special Luke Sikma story. What has been your coolest story with him?
Luke is also a special player. He personifies the Alba Berlin culture. There have been many special moments with him on the court. What I think is really special about him is that when something special happens on the court, he will smile or make a gesture and really enjoys the moment for that player. I think that it is rare to see a player do that where he is truly happy for someone.
You played two seasons with FC Bayern Munich. How vital were these two years for your basketball development. Which coach or player do you remember being instrumental for you there?
My first year we won a title and in the second season we had some problems. I think that Management was really key. People like Daniele Baiesi and Marko Pesic were very important. They allowed me to be the starting point guard for an Euroleague team. They had trust in me and gave me more responsibility. I thank them that they gave me a chance.
You were teammates with Ismet Akpinar who has made his way in Turkey as a Euroleague player. How much respect do you have for him? He sometimes gets lost in the German guard shuffle.
Ismet is a great guy. He is very determined and has a lot of talent. He is very quick and is a great shooter. I know his dream was always to play for Fenerbahce and he has achieved that. He has done something in life that many can’t say they have done. I think that one shouldn’t be concerned that he may get lost a bit in the guard shuffle for the German national team. He is one of the best behaved and well mannered guys I have ever met.
You began your career with Brose Bamberg. That first year wasn’t easy for you, but how much did you profit having so many high level guys around like Darius Miller, Daniel Theis and especially Greek legend Zisis?
It wasn’t easy at first because I had great competition at the guard position. And at the same time, I had to learn very much all at once because I came from college. I think that coach Trinchieri was very important. I learned so much from him. I think that Darius Miller and Daniel Theis also were important because they welcomed me with open arms. They gave me great advice. It was a blessing for me coming to a team that had so much talent.
In December 2016 you played your first game against Real Madrid scoring 13 points in 10 minutes while Luka Doncic had 16 points in the Spanish win. What was your impression of him. So many talented guys have surfaced in Europe over the years but would you have thought that he could become a top NBA player?
At that time all was still super new for me. At that time I was still trying to figure things out in my game. There was such an overload of information for me. I didn’t look so much into the future. I was in the moment. Looking back, I don’t think anyone would have expected it. But in his last season in Europe in 2017-2018 when he was MVP, people noticed. Then I was sure that he would be a great player. You can’t be able to be so good in Europe and not be special.
Before turning professional in 2016 you played NBA Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers. I always wanted to know why you didn’t pursue the NBA more. Was the feedback after the Summer League not as inviting which led you to return to Germany or perhaps the Ivy-League not a strong enough conference to garner more interest?
I had a lot of fun at the NBA Summer League playing with NBA rules. At that time I was offered a partial guaranteed contract but at the same time also had an offer from a Euroleague team with Bamberg. I just didn’t want to take the risk and land in the D-League. I decided to take the safe deal with Bamberg. I think that if I hadn’t have had such a good offer from Bamberg, I would have gone the D-League route. Now looking back Bamberg was the right move.
You were teammates with Alex Caruso a guy who probably didn’t have the greatest chance to be in the NBA, but worked hard and has carved out a fine career. Do you ever wonder what might have happened to you had you tried to land a pre season NBA roster?
Yes I do. Honestly I don’t think there was much difference to Alex Caruso and I and there were also other examples of guys. There were guys like me that came out of school and played NBA Summer League and instead of me took a partial guaranteed contract and landed in the D-League. After a few years they landed in the NBA. I wonder what could have happened, but every guy has their own path. Sometimes you look back and think you made a wrong decision, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’m happy with the path I took. I gained many friends and had great experiences in the last years.
You played at Columbia from 2012-2016. How vital was this for your basketball confidence and game? How instrumental were these 4 years for your game. Who knows where you might have been had you remained in Germany?
Playing at Columbia for 4 years was very important for me. I think that If I would have stayed in Germany, I wouldn’t have become a pro. I had no perspective in Germany. No teams looked at me, not even Pro B teams. That is the reason why I went to the states. I love the game. I felt like my talent could be more recognized in the States. After my second season all the top BBL teams were looking at me.
You scored an amazing 37 points in a tough 85-83 loss against Princeton your junior year. Was that one of your tougher NCAA loses?
There were many tough loses. I regret never having made the tournament. We had a super talented team my senior year. We had enough talent to win the Ivy league title.
How did head coach Kyle Smith groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He installed a lot of discipline and toughness in me. He gave me the chance to come to Columbia. I improved my skill set in terms of shooting. He was heavy on shooting drills. I had to improve a lot. We played the Princeton offense my last 3 years passing, cutting and shooting. In the 35 second shot clock we often took 32 seconds and then the defense would get tired and we got open shots. When I came to Bamberg I had trouble running the pick and role because I hadn’t seen it much. I had to learn to read the defense better.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Grant Mullins?
Grant is a great player. He was one of the best recruits that ever came to Columbia. He went to the university of California after Columbia. We were similar players at the time. He was the better shooter at the time. I think our 1-1 games were even.
You played at Wilbraham & Monson school. What memories do you have living in Springfield? How often did you visit the NBA Hall Of Fame?
I remember that. It was a culture shock for me. I’m an urban child. I landed in Boston and then took a car to school. I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up I was in the woods surrounded by trees. It was a totally different culture. The people were different and it was difficult to adjust at the beginning. But I met great people. I really could focus on school and basketball there because there was nothing to do.
What memories do you have of playing against Avon Old Farms school where I went to school? They were more known as a ice hockey powerhouse.
I don’t remember all the teams I played I’m sorry.
I have a lot of confidence in Gordon Herbert. Germany has really good chances for a medal at the 2022 European Championships. How confident are you that there will be better chemistry this time?
It has to be better. That is the most important. We will have the same group of guys and we have to learn from the past and just do better. I’m confident that we will be better. We are all smart. Making the same mistakes like in 2019 isn’t cool.
Could Franz Wagner be the glue guy between a medal and not?
Yes for sure. He played a great NBA season. He is a great talent that has many abilities at both ends of the court. He is a great dude and down to earth. He will add a lot of quality to the team.
Who is the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that went to the NBA?
CJ Mccullum who played at Lehigh. I had to guard him. He was crazy and insane. He didn’t look fats but he was crazy explosive. I wasn’t ready for him as a freshman.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
It is impossible to name just 5. But I can say that Darius Miller is one of the nicest people ever. He was always positive and never negative. I can’t understand how he could always be so nice. Even if he was mad he didn’t show it. His character was impressive.
Is Luka Doncic a top 3 NBA player?
I don’t know all the stats of guys like Giannis, Durant, Curry or Jokic. But I know that he is a superstar and one of the top players in the NBA.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I didn’t see it, but yeh probably. Sequels are always tough.
Thanks Maodo Lo for the chat.