Manu Lecomte Wants To Lead Belgium To Success And Raise His Game To The Next Level At The 2022 Euro

Emmanuel Lecomte (180-PG-1995, college: Baylor, agency: Players Group) is a 26 year old 180cm point guard from Grimbergen Belgium that played his fourth professional season with Jonavos CBet (Lithuania-LKL) averaging 15.1ppg, 2.3rpg, Assists-5 (4.5apg), FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 84.0%. 2020-2021 was a roller coaster as he began with the Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-BBL) playing 2 games averaging 11.0ppg, 2.0apg and then moved to moved to Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) playing 2 games averaging 11.0ppg, 2.0apg, and then played with tPrienai CBet (Lithuania-LKL) averaging 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 5.1apg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 86.8%. In 2019-2020 he split time with Universidad Catolica de Murcia CB (Spain-Liga ACB) playing 18 games averaging 6.1ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 38.5%, 3FGP: 30.6%, FT: 79.4%, and then moved to Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain-Liga ACB) playing 5 games averaging 5.4ppg, 1.0apg, FGP: 33.3%, 3PT: 80.0%, FT: 90.0%. In his rookie season in 2018-2019 he played with Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (NBA G League) playing 48 games averaging 14.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 4.3apg, 2FGP: 50.8%, 3FGP: 40.2%, FT: 86.2%, and then moved to Universidad Catolica de Murcia CB (Spain-Liga ACB) playing 9 games averaging 7.1ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 15.8%, FT: 90.5% He started his basketball career in Belgium with BBC Kangoeroes-Boom (D2) and then played with Belfius Mons-Hainaut (Ethias League). In 2013 he moved to the States and played with Miami (NCAA) for two seasons playing 71 games. He then transferred to Baylor and made his break through as a junior leading the team to the NCAA Sweet 16 playing 33 games averaging 12.2ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.8apg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 83.0%. In his senior year he played 32 games averaging 16.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 43.9%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 88.5%. He spoke to after a test game against Germany.

Thanks Manu for talking to Belgium suffered a tough 87-83 loss. This game was very difficult to watch. Was this a typical first test in preparation for a big tournament?

Yes it was. There were a lot of mistakes on both sides. We had something like 10 turnovers in the first quarter. It was a great test for us, because we know Germany will be one of the top nations at the Euro. We know that we still have a lot to improve on.

A very weak first half by Germany as Belgium led 50-46. Do you feel Germany had the injury of Moritz Wagner on their minds as the bad news that he would miss the 2022 Euro as announced a few hours before the game

I had no idea of that news. It is always tough when you lose a player like that. Maybe they were thinking a bit about that.

Germany defended better in the second half and Daniel Theis finally woke up from his hibernation and made 3 big baskets down the stretch. Was that all Germany needed for the win?

I thought that Germany did a good job overall. They did a good job on ball screens. They still need to improve some things and were missing guys. But overal they closed out the game well and we made too many mistakes.

What was it like defending Dennis Schroeder? Was he still somewhere around 80% or was he just taking it easy at the start of the preparation?

I thought that he looked pretty aggressive on the court. He was trying to make plays for the team. He is so difficult to stop. He does a great job with his change of speed from slow to fast. He also draws fouls so well. I felt like I should of defended smarter. I had 4 fouls in like 15 minutes. But better now then at the Euro. It was a good test to play against him.

Franz Wagner was also a little rusty. He did make one sweet play driving and whipping a bullet kick out pass for three. What was your impression of him?

You could see that he is a great player. He had 23 points at the end. You could see that he really knows how to score. He also is still finding himself, but to play like that at this stage of the preparation is incredible.

Belgium last placed #19 at the 2017 European championships. How hot is the team to have a good 2022 Euro and how is this team different and better than then?

We have a new generation coming in. We like to play fast and controlled. I feel our biggest strength is our chemistry.

Recently you surprised Serbia 74-73 in a World Cup qualifying game. Do you believe that nations underestimating you could be a big plus for Belgium?

It is always a plus to be underestimated. But I feel like teams won’t do that. We have been showing too much that we are good for surprises. Teams may relax on us but they will see that we are capable of making a difference. We will be very competitive.

How important has head coach Dario Gjergja been for the current rise in the play of Belgium? Is he more a players coach or a guy that really stands for strict structure?

He has been huge. This will be his first Euro. We have a shot to qualify for the World Cup. He has had big wins with us. He is a player’s coach and believes in structure. I really like this balance. Every player knows their role.

Team Belgium in 2022 seems to have a lot of experience but few young players that are role players. Talk a little about some guys to watch for?

Two guys to watch for are Harris Bratanovic and Vrenz Bleijenbergh. Harris has done a great job coming in at the 5 position. He contributes well and also is still looking to blend in. Vrenz plays the 3 and also has been playing really well. He had a good game against Germany and is a very interesting player.

With yourself, Retin Obasohan, and Maxime De Zeeuw you have 3 top players. Do you guys feel pressure that you will have to score and perform at a top level each game to win?

We like the pressure and the challenge, but at the same time we have other guys that can also score. I’m not worried if I will be able to score or not, but moreover like the challenge.

Two guys that will also have to step up will be Quentin Serron and Alexandre Libert. How valuable are these players and what do you appreciate the most about their play?

They bring a lot of energy at both ends. Alex is a great shooter and brings those sniper qualities from the bench. Q is a great driver that always brings energy and can score.

I liked the play of Loic Schwartz. Could he be a key figure for the success of Belgium at the 2022 Euro?

Yes for sure. He had a great game against Germany. He can play the positions 1-3. He is a really good shooter, can create and play defense.

Group A is a very interesting one. One can’t say that Spain is a favorite to win it all. Then you have Turkey who are always dangerous and then other smaller basketball nations with Georgia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. Will it be beating Georgia and Montenegro be the key to advancing?

Yes for sure. We want to win the games we can. We have a tough group but love the challenge. We will be ready.

You had a very good season with Jonavos CBet (Lithuania-LKL): averaging 15.1ppg, 2.3rpg, Assists-5 (4.5apg), FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 84.0%. How vital was this season for your mental health after your tough start to 20-21?

It was great. I needed the stability. It was great to have a good individual performance but also as a team. We moved up from second division and all thought we would go back, We finished fourth and qualified for Fiba Europe Cup. The fun part was that we did it together. It was great for my self-confidence.

Lithuania seems to be a league that suits you. You already finished strong in 20-21 there. How do you feel did your game grow in Lithuania?

My leadership improved. I was a go to guy that played against a lot of pressure. That really helped me prepare for the Euro. I think that I improved in many parts of my game.

It seems like your playmaking took real strides. You didn’t have those kind of assist rates since the G-League. Was your role more of being a facilitator?

Yes I was. I feel like my natural position is the point guard. I like to create for my team and play with speed and IQ. This was the first time I could show it. This was a great beginning for my career.

How much fun was it playing against Zalgiris 3 times. You lost the first 2 games easily but had good games, but saved your best for last scoring 33 points in an exciting 100-97 win. Was that one of your biggest wins as a pro?

Yes I think so. This win was huge. This was the first time we had ever beaten Zalgiris. It was a big achievement. In Lithuania everyone roots for Zalgiris.

What is your goal with your game with team Belgium at the Euro 2022? Do you feel like you can raise your game a bit more on this massive stage?

Yes I think I can. That is the goal. My first role is to be a service for the team. But at the same time I’m also very competitive. I want to match up against the best point guards and outplay them. I want to take my game to the next level.

How proud are you of your Baylor (NCAA) brother for reaching the NBA with the Phoenix Suns. Do you feel like he can raise his game to a new level in his second season?

I love Ish. He is a great teammate and player. It is crazy to see where he started and see that he is at the highest level now. I’m so happy for him. He really deserves it. I still see him improving in next years. He has always improved the last years. Sky is the limit for him.

Where do you rank Steph Curry currently in the talk of the best point guards of all-time?

He is top 5 all-time. I love his game. He is different than what the definition of a point guard is. He completely changed the game.

Thanks Manu for the chat.


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