Eric Washington (183-PG-1993, college: Miami, OH) is a 29 year old 182cm guard from Columbia, South Carolina playing his seventh professional season and second in Germany with the MLP Academics Heidelberg. Last season he played with the Niners Chemnitz averaging 7.8ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 21.7%, FT: 78.0%. He began his basketball career with W.J. Keenan High School. He then played in the NCAA playing 115 games for two schools with Presbyterian College (NCAA) and then finished at Miami University (NCAA). Before coming to Germany he played in countries like Cyprus and Bosnia and three seasons in Hungary. He spoke to germanhoops.com about the incredidle buzzer beater 93-90 win over the Fraport Skyliners
Thanks Eric for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on the amazing 93-90 win over the Fraport Skyliners. Did you get a good dose of the Heidelberg night life after that?
Not really. I was tired. We only get 1 day to recover. I have to take advantage of recovery days. Tomorrow we get back to work and begin to prepare for the cup game against Braunschweig. I didn’t do too much last night. I just saw some teammates.
You have had some big wins in your career but where does this rank considering you hit 2 late three’s for the win?
I think this performance is top 5 in my career. I have had some great moments very similar to this.
The Fraport Skyliners were up 88-81 with 1,26 minutes to go. How confident were you there that the MLP Academics could pull out the win?
To be honest I wasn’t really aware of the score or time in the moment. I knew that we had to be in attack mode at all times to give ourselves a chance. I knew that any opening I got, I had to take because time was against us. Whenever we had that open look, we had to take it. I just thought that we had to keep doing that and make the game as long as possible.
Let’s go back to the start of the game. Frankfurt exploded for 33 points in the first quarter. Did Heidelberg miss something on the scouting report? Were you surprised about how Frankfurt came out?
We had to do a better job being aggressive. We weren’t being the aggressor. People weren’t filling us out. It started with me. I had to be at the top of the snake and I had to do a better job of setting the tone. We got in foul trouble and we became less aggressive. We have to learn to be aggressive and not get fouls. We also have to make it more uncomfortable for the opponent. We let Frankfurt be too comfortable.
You had a lot of difficulty controlling Martinas Geben. How difficult was it trying to make defensive adjustments on him?
He is really a load. He is a lot bigger than what you see on film. He was big, but he could move well. We knew he had a left shoulder, but he was also patient in the post. He reminds me a bit of Jokic in Denver as a guy who is poised, patient and has a soft touch. When good offensive players see the ball go in a lot then all hell breaks loose. He is a very good player.
The Fraport Skyliners kept the lead in the second quarter and led 54-43 at the break. Why was it so difficult for the MLP Academics to get over the hump?
Our defense was there, but we had problems getting consecutive stops. It is really back breaking when you give so much energy on a possession which then ends with a foul. That hurts you mentally. We didn’t get enough stops.
After a few minutes of the third quarter the game seemed over as Frankfurt went on a 10-2 run to lead by 20 points. But you never gave back. Talk a little about how fellow American Dejon Davis was in your shadow this game?
He carried us at the start. It really hurt when he got his last foul. He continues to make strides and looks really good. I always tell him to remain being aggressive. It is really exciting watching him grow. He is new in the BBL and still getting adjusted. But coache’s system is working for him. He gives us great minutes and production.
In the fourth quarter the MLP Academics never gave up and kept chipping away. What key words did coach Jonas Iisalo give the team leading up to crunch-time?
Coach gave us a lot of confidence and kept telling us to be aggressive. He didn’t really tell us anything too crazy except for staying aggressive. I took The Attack Attitude and ran with it
Crunch-time belonged to you. You scored 16 points in a row including 4 three’s in a row and the buzzer beater. That was a sheer masterpiece. Was that a once in a life time achievement?
I don’t know. I was just being aggressive. I wanted to give my team and myself a chance to win. I never stopped attacking and am excited that we won. That is why we put in the work so shots like that fall in and we can have moments like that.
Did you sense that your teammates not only had 100% confidence in you but wanted you to be the hero?
My teammates have given me the ultimate confidence since pre-season. There are times where I hesitate, but they just tell me to keep shooting. I have played for so long, but sometimes you just need to be reminded. I appreciate my teammates so much
Talk about your last 2 three’s to tie and win?
The tying one at 90 was an interesting one. I was driving right for most of the night. I felt like on that shot the big had an arms length on me. I knew that if I would drive, he would be on me. I felt like I could of driven, but then I did take the three because we needed it. I gave him right to left and had him leaning. I saw the rim and shot it. That is a shot I work on each day. I feel comfortable with it. On the game winner there were 3 seconds left and knew that I could get up court. I knew that I couldn’t take 3 dribbles and knew I could take 2 dribbles and reach half court. I threw it it out and ran after it. I saw the clock at 0,9 seconds and shot it. I saw the rim before the contest, but didn’t see the shot go in, but I heard the roar of the crowd.
You always had great stats in different countries until last season in Chemnitz. How happy are you that you are a major contributor with the MLP Academics?
It’s part of the game. I’m just really thankful to be able to play the game. If you come to Europe and are away from your family, at least you can play. I wanted to play for a club in Germany that believed in me. I’m so thankful that I can play for the MLP Academics. I want to help them be a better organization. I don’t take anything for granted and always leave it out on the court. Chemnitz had a certain role for me and that’s ok. I just feel like I can play for a club and help them role with having more of a role. The MLP Academics trust me and believe that I can be a leader. I give my heart to the game. It doesn’t matter if I play 10 or 30 minutes. I always play hard. My goal is for me to help Heidelberg have the kind of season In year 2 that Chemnitz had.
A game can change a whole season around. Do you feel like this incredible finish could spark the team on a major win streak?
We have to take it 1 game at a time. We can’t look to much ahead, but just stay in the moment. The next 8 games are very tough. Every away game in the BBL is tough. But the win against Frankfurt gave us confidence. I think that once we get our defense down, we will give teams trouble. If we get confident, we could make the playoffs. Once we get it, we will be scary.
What was your impression of the Fraport Skyliners? I don’t want to take anything away from your incredible performance, but did Frankfurt in a way give this one away? They lost 2 of 3 games this season on the last play. Will they rebound from this set back?
Yes I can understand that. They were up 20 points. You have to finish the team off, but it is tough playing a team that is always attacking. We never gave up. I don’t know if they can rebound. It will be interesting to see how the coach and players respond. Now you see how their character is. If you don’t have a good locker room and leader, it could all spiral down.
Did ex coach Rodrigo Pastore send you congrats?
No he hasn’t. He probably won’t. But then again, I don’t think that my coach in Hungary will either. We had a normal player/coach relationship. We are both competitors. If he does send congrats, I will say thank you.
Thanks Eric for the chat.