Photo credit camera 4
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 germanhoops.com after leading Alba Berlin to the 2022 easyCredit BBL over FC Bayern Munich scoring 23 points.
Congrats Jaleen on winning the 2022 easyCredit BBL title over FC Bayern Munich in 4 games. How does it feel winning your first professional league title?
I can’t describe the feeling I have right now. Everything went really well for us in this game. There is such a positive vibe right now in the train. I love it.
What does it mean winning the title in Munich after the team showed an embarrassing game 3 performance at home?
It shows that we took game 3 for granted. We had a pretty easy game 3 against Bamberg and against Ludwigsburg it was tough, but we were always sure that w would win it. We showed in game 4 our true fighting mentality.
Did the Telekom Baskets Bonn give Alba Berlin some inspiration in that they were able to beat Munich on the road twice in their playoff series?
No they didn’t. We were all disappointed how we played in game 3 and that we lost in front of 14,500 fans at home. We felt like game 3 would be easy. We wanted to come out in game 4 and show that we wouldn’t have another game like game 3 again.
The 90-60 game 3 loss was a tough pill to swallow. Did Luke Sikma step up after the game leading up to game 4 and give some words of inspiration or did someone else do some talking?
After the game 3 loss Luke Sikma and Maodo Lo took charge. Maodo warned us that Munich had taken Barcelona to 5 games and Luke was super focused. He already wanted to play game 4 the next day. We came into game 4 and executed really well. We put Munich under the hill early and punched them in the mouth first. We took that game 3 loss very personal and came to play in game 4.
I remember before game 3 you told me that FC Bayern Munich would be ready for the task and were. In game 4 Alba Berlin was ready for the task. Alba came out storming and were ready. Do you believe the great first half in game 2 had less to do with tactics and was more just mental and focus and playing Alba Berlin basketball?
We couldn’t play our game in game 3. Munich did a good job denying Maodo Lo, but in game 4 Munich was out of gas. The arena was so hot it was crazy. Despite being tired, we were able to play our game and were able to push the ball on transition.
Alba Berlin dominated for 3 quarters and FC Bayern Munich began with a 8-0 run in the fourth. Even if Munich did score 27 points in the fourth how sure were you that this title was yours?
We had the comfortable lead, but then took our foot of the gas pedal. After that 8-0 run, we began trading baskets and that went back and forth. That decided the game in the fourth quarter. Nobody was getting stops. We knew that if we could run our plays that we would have the title secured.
Obviously the 14 three’s helped in the win, but you beat FC Bayern Munich at their own game securing 12 offensive rebounds to 4. Did Alba Berlin just want the title more?
In game 3 Munich did a good job boxing out. We wanted to rebound better in game 4 and wanted 4 guys crashing the boards. Our bigs all played hard and made them pay with our offensive rebounds. A big key were the offensive rebounds. We had as many or more points off the 12 offensive rebounds. We were able to beat Munich on the boards.
You led all scorers with 23 points. Is it fair to say you absolutely saved your best for last?
I choose the big moments. I was really concentrated on this game after our embarrassing game 3 loss. I really wanted to win game 4 badly and have this amazing time back on the train home. It is insane to have been able to win the last 3 games in Munich.
In the first three games you shot 4/21 from outside. Did you have a good feeling in warm ups that this could be a good day for you?
I just really love the gym in Munich. I always have had a good feeling going back to the bubble. I remember shooting the ball well in the last regular season game in Munich and in game 2 I shot ok. I was just really locked down in game 4 and wanted the series to be done here.
You shot 6/7 from outside. You always say that your blessed when your teammates put you in good spots, but was anything extra key for really having that accuracy that every player dreams of in a title game?
I think my teammates as usual put me in good spots. Luke, Maodo and Tamir did a good job finding me. They have a lot of trust in me and know I can shoot the ball well. I can’t complain when I have an open shot. I was extra aggressive and was super happy to see some three’s go down again after 3 tough games.
What will you always remember most from this game in terms of when people say that was pure Alba Berlin basketball?
I think that a lot of people singled us out after the game 3 loss. We went into game 4 with that nothing is going to stop us and we took care of business. I think that Munich was gassed from using so much energy in game 3. No matter how hot it was, we were going to play Alba Berlin basketball.
How is the celebrating going in the train?
The atmosphere is great. Everybody is hyped. Guys are eating out of the trophy. I have never experienced something like this. The Alba Berlin culture is so amazing.
Thanks Jaleen for the chat.