Michael Hudson(Howard Hoops Combine) Lives By The Motto Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard

Michael Hudson (SG) is a 173cm guard that has professional experience having played for TC Elite the last four years winning a title and 2 slam dunk contests. He played college ball at Fond Du Lac. He will take part at the 2021 Howard Hoops Combine in Germany. He spoke to about his basketball career.

Michael thanks for talking to germanhoopscom. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?

Hello Thanks for interviewing me. I’m currently in Minneapolis Minnesota and the basketball life is treating me pretty well here , there is a lot of good Hoop sessions around the city , good competition, I love the challenge

You haven’t found a professional team since finishing at the University of North Georgia (NCAA2). How was the whole process for you in the last year trying to find a club or did you postpone it because of the difficulties with COVID?

Yes I have been playing Semi Pro basketball for the past 4 years with TC ELITE in 2018 we were the champions of the Midwest Basketball League ! The whole process In the Last year was pretty tough because of COVID so I postponed it. Last June I decided to move to Miami in the beginning of COVID , just training and staying in shape , and also giving back to the game of basketball I was helping train kids with this business called M.T athletics !

How big has your urge been to be a professional player since leaving school? Why do you believe hasn’t your dream of being a professional player panned out?

My urge was very high to be a professional basketball player since I left fond du lac college , Which is about 2 1/2 hours from Minneapolis that was always a dream come true but it was difficult because I wasn’t a TOP 100 ESPN player and I also didn’t go to a big university to get the exposure, but I believed I had the hard work and dedication and talent to compete at a high level of basketball .

Let’s talk a little about COPVID-19. What were the biggest challenges for you during this time? Was it tougher keeping that normal work out routine?

My biggest challenges for me during COVID-19 was finding a gym to workout in that a lot of the gyms were closed. Also being in the gym when I did get the chance to play I went to visit my parents and family and I had to be real cautious of who I was around because I have 2 younger brothers and 1 young sister and 1 niece , I didn’t want to get them sick by any means ! It was pretty tough keeping a normal routine in Minnesota as a lot of gyms were closed until I moved to Miami ! A couple of my college friends had some places to workout at so my routine started to be daily instead of only 1 or 2 days out the week .

You will be taking part at the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany in August. How excited are you to show your abilities in front of GM’s and coaches?

Yes I will be taking part in the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany I’m very excited it’s like a dream come true unfolding right before my eyes , I am thankful to be blessed to showcase my talent in front of the GM’S and Coaches because I’m a hard working individual who puts everything out on the floor , to be part of this is. It is a blessings and I just want to take full advantage of my opportunity to show my abilities and hopefully signing my first pro overseas contract !

How did you get in contact with CEO and founder Ronald Howard (181-PG-84, college: Mayville St.)? Did he find you or did you find him?

I got into contact with Coach Ron through a teammate of mine growing up he has been training with coach Ron and introduced me to him . I was living in Miami at the time when I got introduced to Ron , his business partner trains players out in Florida so I was excited to get some professional work in from a great trainer !

Ronald Howard is a legend. He is the voice for the unknown players wanting to get a job overseas. What kind of relationship do you have with him and what do you appreciate most about his character.

The relationship I have with Coach Ron is very Close I would call it. He is very outgoing and I love what he is doing for the game of basketball and also the private trainings sessions he has are really good that will get you prepared mentally and physically to play at the next level. I was never afraid to open up and talk to coach Ron about anything basketball related or not he was there to help every step of the way. I just want to say thanks to coach Ron again for giving me this chance to change my life forever !

What is your biggest goal at the Howard Hoops Combine besides getting a job overseas?

My biggest goal at the combine will be all the knowledge that I will have endured from the coaches , trainers also GM’s just the overall experience of being able to showcase my God giving talent is a blessing to me ! I’m ready to work hard and make new memories and create relationships with my peers !

How big is the chip on your shoulder? You have played at the NAIA level, but surely believe you can play at a higher level. How do you balance that chip on your shoulder?

The chip is really big on my shoulders I have played semi pro basketball for about 4 years now but I know I have what it takes to play at a high level professionally, this is a quote that I live by ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ I feel I’m not the best player in the world but my hard work and dedication and drive to get better everyday is at a ALL TIME HIGH and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to sign a contract overseas !

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 173 cm guard that is a sharp shooter, can facilitate and gets the team going. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I’m a combo Guard that lives above the rim I would compare my game too Paul George and also Lou Williams !

What other strengths do you have on the offensive end? What would you classify as your absolute biggest strength on the court?

My other strengths on the offensive end would be my elite athleticism, scoring ability, solid ball handler, above average defender! My biggest strength on the court is my scoring ability and getting to the basket to get my team open !

On what area’s of your game are you working on most so you can continue to grow as a player?

The areas I’m working on most is gaining more body strength and being more explosive , working on my combo moves and also improving my IQ and defensive skills as well !

You are known as being a very good dunker and have won some titles. Talk a little about those memories.

Yes I’m a 2x dunk Slam dunk champion with TC ELITE both scenarios was very exciting and fun for me. It was some great opponents from all over the Midwest , but I came out on Top back to back years ! My favorite dunk Idol is Paul George and Derrick Jones Jr , they are both high flyers !

You’re a high flyer. What is your most memorable play as a player?

My most memorable play is when I got an alley oop from half court my freshman year in college against Mesabi Range , the Stands was filled with fans from both teams , it was a Tie game 88-88 , I was coming down the left side of the court when Kevin Gutter threw up the ball from half court and I went up to get it and dunked it. The atmosphere of the game just change drastically and we went on a 12-4 run to close the game out ! That was my legit ever first dunk in a game !

Who was the best player that you ever battled that went to the NBA?

The best player I have ever battled that went to the NBA is Rashad Vaughn , he got drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015 ! Also is Zach Lofton who got drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2018 ! Those 2 players are high NBA caliber players and it was a great challenge for me I learned a lot from both players !

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

My best 5 Team mates of all time are Freddie Young Clement Gibson Landon Kirkwood Rodney Owens Martavian Payne

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Magic Johnson Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant R.I.P Mamba Lebron James Shaq !

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

My personal opinion on who the greatest of all time would have to be Michael Jordan because that’s who I grew up watching play the game of basketball , also I believe it’s 2 different ERA’s when Jordan was playing than Lebron is playing , Jordan is the goat of his Era and Lebron is the goat of his Era , this is a never ending debate we can talk about this all day !

What was the last movie that you saw?

The Last movie I saw was Space Jam 2 which is a great movie by the way. It was a great message for the kids !

Thanks Michael for the chat.

Chris Buckley(Howard Hoops Combine) Learned To Block Out The Noise And Buckle Down In JUCO

Chris Buckley (183-PG) is a 183cm guard that will play at the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany. He hails from Minnesota and is seeking his first ever professional contract. He played at three schools at Waubonsee Community College (JUCO) averaging 11.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 60.9%, east Georgia State College and at Central Lakes College (JUCO) averaging 21.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.6apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 79.7%. He spoke to about basketball.

Chris thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?

Right now I’m in a great space I just welcomed my first son into the world. Life has been great for me and I feel that I’m at the best I’ve ever been when it comes to basketball.

You finished school in 2019. Have you found any professional experience or semi-professional experience in the last years?

No, just some pro Am stuff in the city really just staying consistent with my body and working out.

How big has your urge been to be a professional player since leaving school? Why do you believe hasn’t your dream of being a professional player panned out?

Greater than its ever been because I had such a great season at Central Lakes and even had interest from the University of Arkansas. Only thing was my clock had ran out to play NCAA which means I couldn’t join the team unless I appealed.

Do you have a chip on your shoulder? You only played at the JUCO level, but showed there that you can dominate. You must feel like you can compete at a higher level?

I have always played with a chip on my shoulder coming from were I come from it was instilled in me. I know I can play at a higher level and I just want to show people what I can do.

Let’s talk a little about COPVID-19. What were the biggest challenges for you during this time? Was it tougher keeping that normal work out routine?

The biggest challenges during Covid was not being able to workout consistently and yes it was very tough to keep the same routine but I learned to improvise and just workout from home.

With everything that you have experienced during COVID-19 off the court how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?

I think I’ve grown mentally because I had a chance to regroup and expand my mind and read a little bit more and focus on what’s important to me.

You will be taking part at the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany in August. How excited are you to show your abilities in front of GM’s and coaches?

This is and experience of a lifetime not too many people get this opportunity to go showcase their skills in another country. I’m very excited looking take full advantage.

How excited are you to be playing in Germany? What do you know about the country and it’s basketball? Have you had friends or ex opponents or teammates play there?

Excited isn’t a word but I’m not too familiar with Germany’s basketball but I’ve been watching the Olympics and they looked pretty good. I know Quintin Hooker he’s a Minnesota guy and he’s been putting on ever since he left North Dakota.

How did you get in contact with CEO and founder Ron Howard? Did he find you or did you find him? I can imagine you met him in Minnesota where he trains players.

A trainer from lifetime put me in contact with Ron and he wanted to see me hoop in person. He invited me to a private run and it was a go from there.

Ron Howard is a legend. He is the voice for the unknown players wanting to get a job overseas. What kind of relationship do you have with him and what do you appreciate most about his character.

I look at Ron like a big brother. He can relate to the young guys and he’s played in Germany so he can give guys insight on what it takes to be a pro so I have much respect for Ron and giving me this opportunity he’s a stand up guy. He’s not just one of those people who talks he can show you.

What is your biggest goal at the Howard Hoops Combine besides getting a job overseas?

Just to show coaches and Gm’s that I can compete on any level and to get more exposure.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 183cm point guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?

I would say Kyrie Irving and Damion Lillard.

You’re a player that can fill the stat sheet with ease. Is versatility one of your biggest strengths on the court?

Of course, I always wanted to be a well rounded player I wanted coaches to look at me and think he can do it all we need a player like that.

You also have a developing three pointer. How has the development of your three pointer continued since leaving school?

It’s the best it’s ever been and my range has increased being a shorter player you need to have a consistent shot in today’s game.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most so you can continue to grow as a player?

I think IQ. I want to out think my opponents and give my teammates better looks. I’ve always been a scorer that comes natural but I want to have less turnovers and be reliable in all aspects of the game.

You played at Waubonsee Community College (JUCO) in 2015-2016 averaging11.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 60.9%. What memories do you have from your first JUCO year?

I was a young buck trying to find my way in the world. I had so much to prove as a freshman I wasn’t developed I had a lot to learn but I showed ready to work hard each day.

Did you continue to play there or play elsewhere before going to Central Lakes College (JUCO)?

No I left and went to East Georgia State College.

Every JUCO player that I have interviewed all have said that JUCO was hard, but an experience that they would never have traded for the world. Was it the same with you?

Yes I needed to learn discipline and to buckle down. I learned how to block out all the noise and lock in. I stayed in the gym and weight room every day and it paid off I feel like if I stay consistent with that formula I can’t lose in life.

You finished at Central Lakes College (JUCO) playing 31 games averaging 21.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.6apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 79.7%. You made a massive jump in your game there. How do you feel did your game grow in your last season there?

I became a leader that I always knew I could be that reliable player that you can count on. I challenged my teammates in practice and made them better as well. Even off the court I wanted to have the best grades so I had grown from a young boy to a MAN.

You reached the NJCAA D3 Final Four there. What memories do you have from that amazing run?

The was one of the best memories because we had talked about that the whole year and I wasn’t going to let anything stop that. Durning the national tournament I had an injury in my foot and I still went out there and gave it my all but it was all worth it to see my guys right there with me enjoying the moment.

How did head coach Jum Russell groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

He believed in me and shaped me into a man. He allowed me to be myself and let me lead.We developed a great relationship and he showed me how to be that coach out on the floor when some of the guys aren’t responding well I was that other coach who could get them going or relay the message.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Josh Arnold?

Guys know in practice I’m playing like a game I wasn’t letting anyone beat me.

Who was the best player that you ever battled that went to the NBA?

I played against Chris Duarte in an All star Game for Juco. He was a smooth 6’5 guard who could do it all. He was tough for sure but I knew that I could hoop with the best of them.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Tyreeon Johnson, Malik Hill, Al Jearue Ray, Dakota Fleming, Josh Arnold

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Mj, Kobe, Lebron, Shaq, KD

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

No Debate, Jordans The Greatest of ALL Time ask Lebron

What was the last movie that you saw?

Fast 9

Thanks Chris for the chat.

Gorg Alhag(Howard Hoops Combine) Wants To Demonstrate His Good Read And React Skills and Defensive Qualities For A Professional Team

Gorg Alhag (190-SG-97, college: Mayville St.) is a 23 year old 190cm guard from Mankato, Minnesota that is taking part at the 2021 Howard Hoops Combine in Germany. He began his college career at North Dakota State College of Science (JUCO) averaging 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg. He then played a year at Rochester Community & Technical College (JUCO) averaging 12.5ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 67.9%. He tehn finished at Mayville State University (NAIA) averaging 13.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 82.2%
as a junior and as a senior averaged 13.7ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 72.9%. He won two North Star tournaments at Mayville State University. He spoke to about his basketball career.

Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?

Hi Miles, I am currently in Minnesota. Basketball life is treating me well. I’ve been able to get in and get my work in so that’s always a positive.

You finished school in 2019 and had a little professional experience with Team Auckland (Eurobasket Summer League in Chicago). Have you had a normal day job or have you focused 100% on basketball and having a professional career?

I currently have a job as a direct support staff with hours based around my workout schedule.

How big has your urge been to be a professional player since leaving school? You have professional experience. Why do you believe has it been so difficult to find job opportunities as a professional basketball player?

The urge has been huge. It has always been a dream of mine and I hope to achieve it. I believe it’s been tough because of covid, restrictions, and guys not being able to travel.

Let’s talk a little about COVID-19. What were the biggest challenges for you during this time? Was it tougher keeping that normal work out routine?

The biggest challenge would be not being able to get in everyday and get shots. During covid it was definitely tougher to get that workout routine in just because so many gyms were closed.

With everything that you have experienced during COVID-19 off the court how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?

I learned to be more patient and trust the process of what I am trying to achieve.

You will be taking part at the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany in August. How excited are you to show your abilities in front of GM’s and coaches?

I am very excited. I have been waiting for this even since September so it has been a while, but I feel like I am as ready as ever now.

How excited are you to be playing in Germany? What do you know about the country and it’s basketball? Have you had friends or ex opponents or teammates play there?

I don’t know much about the country but I do know a little about the basketball in Germany. I watch highlights here back home of the BBL league daily.

How did you get in contact with Howard Hoops Combine founder Ron Howard? Did you meet him in a gym in Minnesota?

I met Ron through my head coach at my university and we connected right away. I’ve trained with Ron in the twin city area.

Ron Howard is a legend. He is the voice for the unknown players wanting to get a job overseas. What kind of relationship do you have with him and what do you appreciate most about his character.

I have a good relationship with Ron. He’s a humble guy and I appreciate what he does for me I appreciate the time and effort he puts into things that he cares about.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 190 cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?

If I had to compare myself to an NBA player I would say like a Kendrick Nunn/Dennis Schroder. I can score when needed and facilitate but also get after you defensively

Talk a little about your game. You can do a lot like score, defend, fly with your athleticism and lead a team. What would you say is your biggest strength on the court?

I would say my biggest strength on the court would be playmaking. I am a good read and react guard who can handle the ball so making plays is a strength on mine.

How much pride do you take on the defensive end? Do you feel like you could be that lock down defender at the professional level?

I take a lot of pride on the defensive end. My last year at Mayville I was runner up for DPOY. Defense is all effort and heart

You shot the ball pretty well in your last two years of school at Mayville State. Do you feel like you could make that next step at the pro level as a shooter?

I can be an effective shooter at the next level. Since graduating I have been working a lot on mt shooting and I know it has improved.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most so you can continue to grow as a player?

The area of my game I am working on the most is in the post. I feel as if I can be an effective posting guard with my length.

You began your college career at North Dakota State College of Science (JUCO) playing 8 games averaging 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg. How difficult was that first JUCO year? Players always tell me that JUCO is a very tough league to play in.

My first year of JUCO was difficult just because I wasn’t patient and wanted to play right away coming out of high school. We had a great team, which was older so I didn’t get as much playing time. It was difficult for me as a person but we were winning, and that’s all that matters.

In your second JUCO year you blossomed at Rochester Community & Technical College (JUCO) playing 29 games averaging 12.5ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 67.9%. How do you feel like did your game grow that year?

My second year I had more freedom which played a huge part. The coach trusted me out there and that’s what built my confidence.

You finished your last two years at Mayville State University (NAIA) averaging 13.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 82.2% and as a senior averaging 13.7ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 72.9%. What steps did your game take in your last two years?

My last two years I really wanted to become that team leader. I wanted us to win and everyone to be happy while doing it. As for my game, I had a coach who trusted in my work and allowed me to be free which helped me blossom.

You won the North Star tournament in 2018 and 2019. Talk a little about both runs and which one was sweeter?

‘Winning the NSAA was great. Makes it even better when you win back to back. The first one was definitely sweeter just because it was my first season at Mayville, and we were predicted to finish last. The second run I felt was for the new guys on the team who haven’t experienced winning in college yet. It was still a great feeling just not like the first time around.

How did head coach Darren Tighe groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

Coach taught me a lot, not just about basketball but life in gerenal. He always held me accountable and told me to always do things right the first time. He pushed me to work hard everyday and never let me settle for less.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Daniel Lindgren?

Dan is a good player but 1 on 1 I got him.

Who was the best player that you ever battled that went to the NBA?

Not sure.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Dan Lindgren, Marco Green, Max Cooper, James Batemon, Akeem Smith

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Jordan, Magic, Lebron, Kareem

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player in my opinion.

What was the last movie that you saw?

The Misfits

Thanks Gorg for the chat

The Fraport Skyliners Have Followed The New Sexy in German Basketball With Spanish Head Coach Diego Ocampo

In the last decade 2004 easyCredit BBL champion Fraport Skyliners have had the luxury of not having to make any real changes at the head coach spot. Canadian coach Gordon Herbert coached for the club that came into existence in 1999 for 10 of the organization’s 22 years and helped guide the ambitious team to two of the three club titles. Herbert left two seasons ago to train the Canadian national team, was a consultant with the Brooklyn Nets and recently coached Avtodor Saratov before being dismissed in March 2021. Frankfurt was coached the last two years by young German coach Sebastian Gleim who now has left for a new challenge with the Crailsheim Merlins. That left Frankfurt without a head coach, but many faces available like Mike Taylor, Tyrone Mccoy, Derrick Allen or Will Voigt to name a few, but the Fraport Skyliners had other ideas. Instead of taking a known face in German basketball, they wanted to attempt something totally new and go with a trend that was started in Berlin some years ago. Bringing in Spanish coaches to Germany is the new sexy as legendary head coach Aito has proven in Berlin with his free style that let’s the players make the decisions and Pedro Calles in Vechta and Hamburg that went form an athletic trainer to one of the most sought after coaches in Germany showing he can lead teams to success with limited player resources. The Fraport Skyliners want to get back on track, and reach the playoffs and build something for the future with the planned new arena coming. The club have brought in 45 year old experienced Spanish head coach Diego Ocampo . The ex Weber State (NCAA) stand out Scott Bamforth who has played 8 professional seasons and 4 seasons in the Spanish ACB and won the 2019 Fiba Europe Cup had the pleasure of playing for head coach Diego Ocampo in his second season in 2014-2015 and has a notion why Spanish coaches have become the new sexy in the easyCredit BBL. ‘I think that the style of play is what makes Spanish coaches different than any other coaches. I think that in general, Spanish coaches teach their players and teams how to play basketball the right way all of the time in which I mean, they teach to make the extra pass of offense, make the extra help on defense’, stressed Scott Bamforth who last played with Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA).

The 44 year old Diego Ocampo began his coaching career with with C.B.Tarragona (LEB1) in 2004. After that he coached Cajasol Sevilla (ACB) for four years and then also coached clubs like Universidad Catolica de Murcia CB, Tuenti Movil Estudiantes Madrid, Divina Seguros Juventut Badalona, FC Barcelona Lassa 2nd team (LEB Gold) and last coached ACB team Zaragoza. After coaching his whole career in his native Spain, he will now be coaching his first atime broad and in Germany. He is coming to Frankfurt ready to go and wants to bring new energy to a club that is looking to get back to the playoffs as well as continue to develop young talent. ‘I want to use all my knowledge and strength to help the club to continue to lead and develop the identity. We want to reach big goals. We want to give all and be competitive. We also want to make the young players better. We also want to show the fans good ball movement, passion and that we are having fun on the court”, stressed Diego Ocampo . Not only is the Spanish coach excited about coming to Frankfurt, but so is Skyliner captain Quantez Robertson. ”It’s going to be fun playing for a Spanish coach for the first time’, added Quantez Robertson.

Scott Bamforth played for Diego Ocampo in Spain

Scott Bamforth played for Diego Ocampo in his second professional season 2014-2015 with Universidad Catolica de Murcia CB (ACB). But that wasn’t the first time that the American had played for him as he was an assistant his rookie year with Cajasol Banca Civica Sevilla for the legendary Aito who just won his second German BBL title in a row over FC Bayern Munich. Bamforth had a very solid rookie season in Europe’s best club league ACB playing 37 games averaging 10.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 87.1%. He then had Ocampo as a head coach in his second professional season with Murcia. He has great memories of Ocampo and things just clicked between the both of them. The Spaniard had a philosophy that all players could relate to. ‘Diego coached in a way that taught players how to play basketball the right way and make the extra pass and help your teammate on defense etc. He was a great coach in those areas’, remembered Scott Bamforth. In his second season in the ACB, he played 29 games averaging 8.9ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 85.0%. His stats weren’t as good as under Aito, but he was able to get the most out of the coaching style of Ocampo. ‘ On the court, Diego is a great coach who focuses on working and helping his players get better every day. He is a great at not only teaching individual skills, but also team skills that will help the team play together and play great basketball’, stated Scott Bamforth. One thing that Bamforth will forever remember was that he played under Ocampo when the coach was a rookie. That first head coaching job isn’t always the easiest, but the American was able to harmonize with the Spaniard. ‘I think my greatest memory with him that season was just being with him every day through the ups and downs of the season and going through his first season as a head coach with him. These were a lot of good times and bad, but we stayed together and kept working to be better’. Commented Scott Bamforth.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Lorenz Brenneke a player that will profit under Diego Ocampo

Ocampo is also known for being able to work together successfully with young players. He coached the Spanish U-16 and U-17 teams and won a Bronze medal at the U-16 European championships in Lithuania in 2011. He also coached the FC Barcelona farm team for two seasons that play in the Spanish second division called LEB Gold. He also has had the distinction of having helped develop future NBA players like Leandro Bolmaro, Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Gasol and Tomas Satoransky. Bamforth remembers seeing the touch that Ocampo had back in 2014-2015 when he was a young player himself and how he was able to motivate kids. “Diego is amazing with young players. He has worked with a lot of young players in his career and I think that he is able to teach young players a lot. Teaching individual skills is one of his greatest strengths as a coach”, warned Scott Bamforth. Two of the biggest desires for the Fraport Skyliners is to win and develop their young players. That is definitely something that the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner Fraport Skyliners and Diego Ocampo see eye to eye with. “That season I remember just the way he wanted to win and wanted his players to get better every day in practice. That was his main goal every day and I think that allowed the players to become better players every day and the team to become a better team every day”, remembered Scott Bamforth. Another experienced player that played for Diego Ocampo was Garrett Stutz(Wichita State University (NCAA) He has played in countries like Korea, Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, United Arab Emirates and has made a name in Japan the last four years. He played for Diego Ocampo with Badalona in the 2016-2017 season. Sometimes a player and coach aren´t always on the same page on the court, but the character of a coach off the court can be just as vital as that team chemistry has to always be present there. “I really liked him as a person. He cares deeply about his players and family. We had some differences on the court. His solutions for every problem was work harder, work harder, work harder. Spend more hours practicing. My mindset is identify the problem and find the smartest solution. So we didn’t see eye to eye. Both of us cared so much about basketball & the team, but with different philosophies it was a conflict”, remembered Garrett Stutz. It will be interesting to see what the Spanish head coach can accomplish with the Fraport Skyliners and exactly what kind of steps the young talents Len Schoormann, Bruno Vrcic and Lorenz Brennecke can achieve under him. So far Aito and Pedro Calles have brought much joy to Alba Berlin, Rasta Vechta and the Hamburg Towers, so why shouldn´t there be a new Spanish success story ready to grow with the Fraport Skyliners?

Chris Hooper Silenced Critics Once Again Destroying The Pro B And Winning A Title With Itzehoe As He Is Ready For The Next Challenge

Christopher Hooper (198-PF-91, college: SFC) is a 29 year old 198cm forward from the Bronx, New York who completed his fifth professional season and second in Germany with the Itzehoe Eagles (Germany-ProB) playing 30 games averaging 19.1ppg, Reb-1 (10.5rpg), 3.7apg, FGP: 59.5%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 67.4%. In his first season with the Eagles he averaved 19,5ppg, 10,0rpg, 3,7apg, 1,3spg and 1,0bpg. He played the 2017-2019 seasons with Obera Tennis Club (Argentina-La Liga Argentina) and averaged 16.9ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.8apg, Blocks-4 (1.5bpg), FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 70.5% and in his first season averaged 16.2ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-3 (1.4bpg), FGP: 60.1%, FT: 58.9%. He played his rookie season with the Reading Rockets (United Kingdom-NBL D1) playing 21 games: Score-5 (22.4ppg), Reb-1 (12.3rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4spg, Blocks-4 (1.3bpg), FGP-1 (68.1%), FT: 63.9%. He began his basketball career at Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy and then played at St. Francis College (NY) (NCAA) and in his last year played 32 games averaging 11.3ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 58.3%, FT: 57.1%. He spoke to germanhoops after helping lead the Itzehoe Eagles to the Pro A.

Chris thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

Hello thank you for taking the time to interview me I’m currently in New York back home, and basketball life is good and progressive I would say.

What goals do you remember head coach Pat Elzie telling you when you arrived in Itzehoe in August 2021? Did they come true?

Well you know this is my second season playing so I pretty much knew the goal coming into this season but the goal was always to win, for me to shoot better , and move up and to answer the question yes those goals came true.

Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you about COVID. What was the most challenging thing for you in your second season with COVID?

The most challenging thing was no fans, my game feeds off energy so that loud cheering and trash talking is always missed ,also no vacation and playing straight through was a challenge as well.

How can one honestly rate this season with all the drama that went on with COVID? Every team had their problems.

I mean at the end of the day it’s just something we can’t control covid came and hurt a lot of people financially so of course problems were going to occur. there were no gyms for a certain amount of time as well so that can also cause problems.

Congrats on an amazing season and winning the pro B title. What was special about this seasons team that wasn’t there last season?

Thank you ! And to be honest I wouldn’t say anything both teams both years had nothing but the will to win and was willing to make sacrifices to do so .

The Itzehoe Eagles didn’t start the season well beginning with a 0-3record. What were your personal thoughts after 5 games? Possbly that our team was way better than this?

After the first 5 games I was kind of frustrated because I know we were better then that , I know I was better than that so it was just all frustrating at a point, but we found ourselves turned it around and things really started to fall into place afterwards.

You then had a solid 14-4 season in the regular season. What do you believe was so special with this years club?

I think just the goals that was set from coach as well as the club with wanting to move up to Pro A, and everybody’s mindset.

Then you lost two tough games against Schwelm. The team obviously took this as a wake up call and then beat a tough Giessen team 75-74. What important lesson do you feel did the Eagles learn in the Schwelm loses?

Again we just knew that we were better than the way we showed them the first two times against them, that’s a great team we know that but we knew we needed to be down to win those games and we just didn’t do it those nights.

had a strong playoff series and then got revenge on Schwelm. What do you believe was key for getting the finals games won and winning the title?

They key was the hunger, the enthusiasm to beat this team that beat us 3 games in a row.

How proud are you of Pat Elzie? The Eagles are his baby and he has helped them reach the Pro A. What do you believe was his strongest quality this season as head coach that helped you overcome all odds?

I’m not proud of him , he’s a guy that wouldn’t want to take the credit for that. He is just happy to come coach a great group of guys but I would say I’m thankful for him for trusting us and giving me the opportunity to showcase everything I have and lead a whole team to the next level. His strongest quality to me is challenging me to always do more or better.

Let’s talk about your teammates. You played your second season with the versatile Marko Boksic. How much fun was it being his teammate and in what part of the success was he most instrumental in?

It was real fun. The guy is just all work and he loves the grind. We both wanted the same thing and that was to win. Our games compliment each other with him being able to play inside and out. His success came from stepping up and adding more points to the stat sheet being with the departure of Chaed and he definitely filled that.

How enjoyable was it having German big man Yasin Kolo besides you. How did he make your game so much easier?

It’s good to see somebody else being double triple teamed besides me haha. On a serious tip he was a big addition this year for us especially in the playoffs he took a lot of weight off my shoulders and just did his part when the games were made difficult for me.

How valuable were the two German guards Niclas Sperber and Erik Nyberg? They didn’t put up massive stats, but played their roles perfectly.

Both them are great teammates, and are our top two defenders. They were important just like anyone else, the way Nic exploded in that championship game was amazing, and the improvement from Erik from this season and last season also was big help for our team success.

How valuable was experienced German Flavio Stuckemann for helping everyone stay together in tough times? He didn’t have a big scoring role, but his presence was huge.

That guy right there is somebody I’ll always look up to and take advice from, it’s not hard to listen to what he has to say when things are going bad because he has done this many of times and everybody on the team respected him as captain/brother/teammate so when he speaks you know, excuse my language but shut and listen.

Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 19,1ppg, 10,5rpg and 3,7apg. How content were you with your own game?

I’m very satisfied about it especially with the results of the team this season, and to the people that felt I couldn’t do it at first or again.

Your numbers were identical with last seasons line. How do you feel did you become a better player this season with the title win?

Yes they were it shows that I can maintain consistency even throughout tough times such as corona. I feel I became a better passer , better feel for the game and a better shooter.

Your rebounding continues to be a very big strength in your game. How do you feel has it developed further in Itzehoe the last two years?

I think the rebounding has been pretty much the same, this year I finished at #1 last year at #2 so maybe it improved a little but I feel it’s the same.

In your first four professional seasons you shot only 20 three’s, but this season incorporated your three into you shooting 36% with 44 attempts. Did the success come from you really putting in the work last summer?

Yea I mean I always could shoot I just never had the confidence to do but yes a lot of days on the gun and getting up shots everyday , I’m trying to expand my game more and that has to be one thing that expanded even more.

You must be extra motivated to play in the Pro A. This is a league I feel like you could of played in last year. Because you will be moving up with Itzehoe and no other team can sign, do you feel like hunger will be sky high to show everyone you belong?

I’m very motivated to play in any higher league no matter where it will be, I agree with you I also feel like I could’ve played in that league after my first season but corona and all happened so I decided to come back and showcase myself again, but yes I’m very eager to show I belong and what else I can do. Can’t say exactly if I’m moving up with Itzehoe but I’m open to all possibilities and options. I did my part which was to perform and win, now it’s just a waiting game.

On what area’s of your game will you be working on most this summer so you will be prepared to make the next step in the Pro A?

I will be working mainly on my quickness, my athleticism, my strength, my handle , most importantly my shooting because I feel I will have to play the 3 sometimes as well in higher leagues.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro B this season?

To be honest I don’t have a player that was the toughest to battle but I would say that it’s a headache playing against Niklas Geske & Monty Scott them guys can go and for thir size and quickness it makes it so much harder keep up with them guys.

Chris Paul recently passed Magic Johnson for fifth all-time in assists. Where do you rank him with the best point guards all-time despite never having won a ring?

He’s definitely a top 5 point guard for sure in my eyes to have all them assists and hardly turning the ball over and a lot of teams he made into playoff teams it’s just insane , he needs his flowers because he definitely deserved it.

Where do you see the journey going with Jayson Tatum who recently scored 60 points? Is he a top 10 player in the NBA now?

I would put him in top 10 yes not one of my favorites but I like to watch him, because he knows how to get a bucket and win games .

Dino Radja recently said he couldn’t see Russell Westbrook leading a team in Europe to success. Do you agree?

No I don’t agree I feel Russ would come over here and absolutely destroy and we got to give credit when it’s due and that’s a man that proven himself multiple times.

Draymond Green recently said that he is the best defender on the planet. Do you agree?

No I don’t but he’s definitely a great defender

Have you seen the Coming to America sequel? It has had mixed reviews. Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?

No I haven’t just got that exact reason I feel like the movie is just too much of a classic to be made again so yes they should’ve left it alone.

Thanks Chris for the chat.

Patrick Samoura(Czech National Team) Knows They Have More Offensive Potential Than They Realized And Need To Utilize It At The Olympics

Patrick Samoura (198-F-00, college: Cochise CC) is a 20 year old 198cm forward currently with the Czech Republic national team that will be playing at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan. He has played his whole career with USK Praha (NBL) and last season played 16 games averaging 13.0ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.8apg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 26.9%, FT: 72.7%. He also played two seasons with Cochise College (JUCO) playing 30 games averaging 7.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 77.7% and 8.8ppg, 9.1rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 76.5%. He also has played at the U-16 and U-18 European Championships. He spoke to after the Czech Republic qualified for the 2021 Summer Olympics.

Patrick thanks for talking to Congrats on reaching the 2021 Olympics. Did Victoria get to know what it is like when very happy Czech men party?

I wouldn’t say party, but we had our little gathering to celebrate this huge achievement.

What was going through your head when the siren sounded to end the game against Greece?

That I cannot believe this. This is my first year with the men’s national team and in it we make it to the Olympics games which is one of my dreams. Also, that our little country is making this happen. We are almost every time the underdogs and not many people believe in us. However, we have our quality and team chemistry.

Were the last minutes the longest of your life?

Not really, because we were up by 30 points and the game prior to against Greece was against Canada where we were up by 10 points with 52 seconds left in the 4th quarter. Those were the longest seconds of my life and imagine going to overtime after that.

One has to realize what the Czech national team achieved in the last week. Not only did the club reach the Olympics but beat Canada and Greece back to back with in 24 hours. Is this the biggest achievement in Czech basketball history?

I would say this is the biggest achievement in modern history. The last time Czechs went to Olympics games was 40 years ago and this was a huge achievement too. However, in modern history I would say this is the biggest. I would like to think that it also surpasses the 6th place in the World Cup that was in China in 2019.

Let’s begin with the Canada win. How key was the 80-79 win over Uruguay on Friday? Did this put the team in a little different mind set going into the Canada game raising the confidence even more?

For us this game was do-or-die. Without it we would just go home. I don’t want to say that it raised our confidence because we had to win it to get to the semifinals. However, it helped us. We go into each and every game with the winning mentality even though our opponent may be more talented, we are competitors.

The Czech Republic had a nice lead at the end but they stormed back. How were you guys holding up mentally leading up to the Tomas Satoransky game winner?

It was out of this world. We lost the 10 point lead in 52 seconds. Of course it was mentally tough but we believed in ourselves and made it through the storm.

Tomas Satoransky won the game with dazzling 1-1 play and nailed the shot with a bank shot? Did you know that the ball was going in?

I was hoping I did not see it in a good angle, so I had to guess. However, the shot was incredible. Especially against one of the best defenders in the world Luguentz Dort who plays for the Thundes. After that it was just euphoria.

Ondrej Balvin had a monster game as did Blake Schilb. I remember Schilb being very far from a monster in Hamburg at the Super Cup. Was he saving his best for last?

Ondej had a big game with 19 boards which helped tremendously, also his passes, size and vision made it possible for us to win because Canada played small-ball. Blake erupted in that game. Perhaps, he was saving his best for this game but I think in our team anybody can score high numbers, but it depends on the game. In that one it was Blake.

What kind of an experience was it playing against these very talented Canadian players with loads of NBA experience? Which player stood out most to you?

It was amazing. I saw how NBA players play and carry themselves. I saw the physicality and aggressiveness with which they play and also the high IQ. Who most stood out for me from Canada would be Nickeil Alexander-Walker. He was great his finishing around the rim, shooting and the one on one stood out for me.

Against Greece you led 81-53 after three quarters. You had absolutely no mercy. What did you learn about the team’s offense on this weekend that you didn’t know about before?

That we have more offensive potential than we realize which for us is an advantage that we have to utilize in upcoming Olympics.

When you look back over the Olympic qualifying weekend what was the biggest quality of the team. Obviously every team wanted to reach the Olympics, but would it be fair to say that deep down the Czech republic wanted it more?

Our biggest quality is team chemistry and because of that no matter the situation we stick together until the vey end. Everybody wanted to go to Tokyo that is undeniable. However, we managed of all teams to show it and execute it on the court.

The Czech Republic didn’t look so good in Hamburg, but you guys sure did work on everything after leading up to the qualifying tournament. How are you a different team now then when you left Hamburg at both ends of the court?

It is safe to say that in Hamburg we were not ready to compete against those teams. Nevertheless, it was a learning experience where we saw how the basketball is supposed to be played. As we completed our roster, we competed at each and every practice and it brought us fruit.

What kind of special words did head coach Ronin Ginzburg find for the club after the Greece win?

Let’s win this freaking game!

Does it feel like you’re a small kid in a candy store when thinking about playing against USA? Is this like a triple dream come true?

I really never thought about it but now as it is coming closer, I am getting more and more excited. I will be playing against the best players in the NBA which for me is something spectacular.

Which USA player are you looking most forward to playing against?

Probably Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum.

The Czech Republic have a tough group with USA, France and Iran. What will you have to do as a team to advance?

Our mindset is that everybody is beatable, and anybody can be beaten and with that we have to go into each game whether it is USA, Iran or France.

On what things are you most looking forward to at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics? Are there any athletes that you really want to meet?

I cannot wait to see how Japan or rather Tokyo looks. The culture, people, food everything is superb for me.
Until now I did not think about meeting any particular athlete. I will see who I meet when we get there.

What was the last movie that you saw?

It was a movie Gangs of New York.

Thanks Patrick for the chat.

Hearing What You Need And Not What You Want Will Surely Help Grant Sitton Make The Next Step With The wiha Panthers

Making that first impression is so important in life no matter if you’re wanting to be a stock broker, paramedic or a cook. How you present yourself in that interview can be so vital and it isn’t any different for a professional basketball player. Usually the organization have the upper hand in the first talks simple because they have gotten recommendations from that player’s ex coaches and seen hours of footage. But not only does a club have to be 100% sure that they have the right player, but the player also has to be totally convinced that his new basketball home will benefit him in the best way as possible. If a player and coach don’t see eye to eye from the get go then that player has to go on and find the next possible team. Often one hears the normal bla bla in German basketball team’s press releases of how good the talks were between player and coach and that was it. In the case of wiha Panthers head coach Alen Velcic, you get that added bonus of more in depth detail from the players about his character. It doesn’t really matter who the player has been in the last years that has signed with the Pro A team from south west Germany, Alen Velcic has gotten the total positive full treatment from new players that have only spoken with him. You have to wonder what kind of a indisputable second impression he makes on players in that first face to face encounter at the first day of practice. New players Quatarrius Wilson stated this ”He’s all about winning and he has high intensity’ while Luka Dolman stated ‘The biggest thing for me is his passion for the game As a player I know he’s going to push me to be the best player and teammate that I can be’. The lauding of Alen Velcic just continues and continues just as the constant lauding for Giannis of the Milwaukee Bucks a day after winning the NBA title is non stop. The praising and good first impression of Alen Velcic wasn’t any different for new player Grant Sitton either. ‘ He is a straight shooter, He tells you what you need to hear and not what you want. I admire that in a coach. He seems to really care about coaching and the team and not just here for the money’, warned Grant Sitton. I don’t know how his first impression of Rostock head coach Dirk Bauermann was in January 2020 when the ex German national team coach came on board, but he didn’t want to answer a question about him so one is able to decipher that his experience with him wasn’t what he had expected. Sitton is back in Germany with a lot to prove and wants to make the next step with the wiha Panthers. That so important first impression has been great for Sitton, now the question will be, can he and Velcic harmonize on the court?

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing legendary German coach Dirk Bauermann in Frankfurt in 2008

Grant Sitton who lists current NBA player Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs as his toughest opponent ever was born on April 27, 1993 in Brush Prairie in Washington state. He began his basketball career at Prairie High School. Instead of going the NCAA route, he had to start at the bottom at Clackamas Community College. It was here that he developed a chip on his shoulder. ‘I loved Clackamas I still keep in touch with the coaches and players there. A lot of good memories. I think coming from a community college you always have a chip on your shoulder but it helped me get to where I am today’, stressed Grant Sitton. He then went a rare route for an American and chose not to play in the United States, but in Canada for the University of Victoria. There was a massive advantage to playing in Canada something that Americans probably don’t even know about. ‘In Canada you get 5 years to play instead of 4 (in USA) coming from a community college I wanted that extra year to develop my skills as a basketball player’, remembered Grant Sitton. In his three years at Victoria he played a total of 68 games and really made a huge jump in his last two years averaging 14.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 81.8% and in his last season 19.2ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 77.3%. He was able to improve his scoring, rebounding and assists averages in every season. What his game gained in those three years continues to help his game today. ‘As I get older I’m better at reading and understanding the game of basketball as well as what I’m capable of on the court’, stressed Grant Sitton. He was a very consistent scorer in his last two seasons scoring in double figures in 34 of 42 games. He had unforgettable scoring explosions against Saskatchewan with 33 points, 32 points against Lethbridge and 30 points against TRU. He credits lead assistant coach Josh Mullen for being instrumental in him being a player that has had success everywhere he has been as a professional. ‘He believed in me and my goal to play over season and him and I spent countless hours over the course of my college career. His knowledge of the game is the reason why I’m the basketball player I am today’, warned Grant Sitton. He never lost a one on one battle in practice to teammate Hayden Leyeune and also remembers how lethal of a scorer Mr Canada and ex Fraport Skyliner Philip Scrubb was in school. ‘I remember Philip being unstoppable. We had the opportunity to play them multiple times and both times were a challenge. But it always fun to go up against a really talented player and he is one of the best’, remembered Grant Sitton.

The Washington native lists his five best teammates of all-time as Marcus Tibbs, Donte Nicolas, Jobi Wall , Rodney Glasgow and Noah Charles began his professional basketball career with BC Prievidza (Slovakia-SBL). He needed no time to adjust as he played 37 games averaging 14.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 81.1%. There are guys who play 10 professional season and never experience the feeling of winning that chip, but he did it as a rookie. He was a prolific scorer his rookie season scoring in double figures in 27 games. He scored 30 points and 25 points against Rieker KN and 25 points against Nova Ves. In his second season he played with top Dutch club Donar Groningen (Holland-Eredivisie) playing 41 games averaging 7.2ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT-2 (90.5%). He also got his first international club competition playing 14 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 7.9ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 34.8%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 88.6%. After winning back to back Dutch Eredivisie titles in 2017 and 2018, Donar Groningen couldn’t pull off the triple losing a fierce five game battle against Zwolle. Being able to play Fiba Europe Cup had a huge impact on his game. ‘The amount of exposure I had playing all these different teams in all different countries was eye opening to me. I tried to soak as much knowledge of the game of basketball I could bring surrounded by such good players’, remembered Grant Sitton. He scored in double figures in the Dutch league in 14 games including 16 points a piece against Limburg and Den Helder. In the Fiba Europe Cup he scored in double figures in five games including 18 points against Italian team Openjobmetis. He also had two ex BBL players that enriched his game with ex Bamberg guard Teddy Gipson and ex Ludwigsburg forward Jason Dourissaeu. ‘They are good guys I learned a lot about how to conduct myself as a pro and what it takes to compete at a high level. Jason and I were roommates when we would travel so we spent a lot of time together on the road’, added Grant Sitton.

In the 2019-2020 season he played with the Rostock Seawolves playing 26 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 46.0%, FT: 85.9%. He may not have good memories of Dirk Bauermann, but he does have very fond accounts of the faithful Rostock fans and that the versatile Donte Nicholas is one of his five best teammates of all-time is no surprise. ‘I loved the fans support in Rostock. I was chosen by a group of fans to do a meet and greet. They were a lovely family and still wish me luck. Donte and I are still good friends even after Rostock. He is by far one of the most versatile players I’ve played with. We used to play against each other in practice, it was really competitive and a lot of fun’, remembered Grant Sitton. He scored in double figures in only 8 games, but had three massive games producing 24 and 22 points against PS Karlsruhe and 23 points against the Niners Chemnitz. Last season he wanted to return back to Germany, but couldn’t and decided to go back to an old stomping ground with BC Prievidza (Slovakia-SBL). It was his best personal season as he played 25 games and was the second best scorer in the league averaging 18.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT-2 (45.8%), FT: 82.6%. It was a no brainer coming back to the organization that made him a champion in his rookie season. ‘What makes them special is that they were the first and only team to offer and eventually give me my first contract as a professional basketball player. I have a strong bond with management and the fans Over there and I will always be grateful for them’, warned Grant Sitton. He was unable to win another title as he lost a tough three game series it Iskra Svit. ‘Losing any playoff series is tough and yes I was disappointed but I was really happy with how hard my teammates played during the season and in playoffs they deserve the credit with how they competed’, stated Grant Sitton. He had huge games against Iskra Svit scoring 36 points and had 32 points against Lucenec.

So let’s fast forward to 2021. The ex University Of Victoria forward who lists Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Shaquille O’Neal on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore did only have the challenge last season of continuing to climb the basketball ladder, but also having to deal with COVID. The last year has been tough for everyone during COVID and he will never forget those boisterous Rostock fans and having a season without fans was tough. ‘The challenges playing with covid were hard but I think the management and players handle it very well. For me the only issue was that fact the was no fan interaction the whole time I was there. I always like to show my appreciation to them’, expressed Grant Sitton. He continues to grow as a player with every new experience in new countries and Covid also helped him grow as a man. ‘COVID gave me a new perspective of life and how you take for granted all the little things you can do. I’ve come to appreciate more of the small things in my life’, commented Grant Sitton. What didn’t happen last season finally came true again now as he will be playing in Germany again with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. He knows that he still has a lot to prove and with the ambitious Panthers organization, he has the perfect chance to. If COVID hadn’t come on to the scene, he may have remained in Germany last season. ‘Covid played a huge role. I’m very thankful that BC Prievidza offered me a contract and let me come in for the remainder of their season. They have always treated me well’, said Grant Sitton. That first impression that head coach Alen Velcic gave him was a big reason for him committing to the Pro A team. ‘I think it’s a good fit for me after talking with the coach and sharing our interest, I feel confident that we have the tools and the mindset to be a great team this season’, stated Grant Sitton. He has good and bad memories of his two games against the Panthers. The good memories was that he won both games, but the bad memory was that he didn’t have his A-game prepared. He put up a big goose egg in the first game and shot only 3/12 combined in both games. ‘Sometimes the bad games stick out more. I only remember the first game because I played so poorly’, stressed Grant Sitton

So what kind of player will German basketball fans see with the American who feels Michael Jordan is the best of all-time and the last movie that he witnessed was Space Jam 2? He will be on a club that will supply much scoring support with guys like Lamonte Beardon, Quatarrius Wilson Raiquan Clark and Chris Frazier, but there should be enough room and minutes for him to heighten his game even more from his Rostock season. People have compared his game to a white Kevin Durant, but he believes that is a joke. He doesn’t like to compare his game to only one player, but rather likes to take things from many NBA players. He is a modern day forward and even if he can bang, he does prefer to utilize his strong shooting ability. ‘I feel like I shoot a high enough percentage from the 3 point line that sometimes it’s better than shooting inside. That being said I pride myself on being versatile as a player’, expressed Grant Sitton. He shot 38% from outside in his last three seasons at Victoria and has continued to raise his three point percentages as he has shot above 40% as a professional in every league he has played in except the Dutch league. His recipe for success is based on two things. ‘My Dad and mom taught me the fundamentals as a kid as I grew older I watch good shooters and took parts of their shot and tried to add them to mine. But the secret is there is no secret getting up shots and gaining confidence are the two most important things when it comes to shooting’, warned Grant Sitton. But in order to be a modern day forward, you have to be able to do more and his facilitating will help out the offense this season. ‘I’m a great passer, I read the floor well and I understand the game enough to make my teammates better around me’, stressed Grant Sitton. He also knows that playing top at one end of the court isn’t the way to being that complete player, but you have to bring it always at both ends of the court. ‘Although I have improved my defense a lot over my career it’s always something I constantly try to work on. I feel that’s something that is holding me back to the next level’, stressed Grant Sitton. Hearing a comment like this has to be as soothing for Alen Velcic as it has been for Team USA opponents seeing them struggle the last weeks leading up to the 2021 Olympics. Not only did Sitton have a very positive first impression of Velcic, but so did Alen Velcic of Sitton. This has to be a match made in heaven.

Marck Coffin Will Take His Dads Most Important Advice That You Can´t Be Everybody´s Friend Into Coaching

Marck Coffin (193-PG-91, college: Idaho Coll.) is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Caldwell, Indiana that completed his third season with the WWU Baskets Muenster (Germany-ProB) playing 30 games averaging 12.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.1apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 44.8%, FT: 85.7% after averaging 9.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 64.3% the season before. He played his first three professional seasons with the ECE Bulls Kapfenberg (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 125 games. He also got experience in the States playing at Treasure Valley Community College (NJCAA) and playing 49 games for the College of Idaho (NAIA). He spoke to about his basketball career.

Marck thanks for talking to Where are you and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?

I am currently in Muenster, spending my last couple of days here finishing up last minute appointments. The basketball life is treating me well, it’s a great feeling knowing I do not have to prepare physically for a season in the coming fall.

You played a full season during COVID-19. How did you experience this season with all the restrictions and drama of COVID-19 on and off the court?

I’m thankful our team didn’t have any positive cases. That speaks discipline and dedication about our organization and team. It was definitely an experience I will never forget; no fans, testing before each game, hearing every single player and coach shouting during the games.
Off the court I’m pretty laid back and don’t go to too many places, I did miss coaching my young U12 team though. Due to Covid all of the youth sports were cancelled, and that was a huge bummer for those kids.

What were the biggest challenges for you in getting through this season and trying to have as much success as possible?

Personally my biggest challenge was staying motivated, knowing possibly once we all tested negative, there could be a probable chance the opposing team would test positive and all our work and preparation from that week would feel like it was wasted in a sense.

It was a very successful season for the WWU Baskets Muenster. But how can one seriously rate a season like this where really each team had their difficulties with COVID-19?

We knew from our success from last year that it would translate to this season. Although we had some great players depart, we also had great additions. We tried to focus on us as much as we could and not have any external distractions come into our team, even when Covid influenced the schedule.

You guys lost a tough three game series to Bochum. You had the momentum going into game three, but lost 97-86. How tough was it losing that final game?

It was hard, I’m not going to lie. That whole weekend my sleep schedule spiraled; after the first game I stayed up till 2am and was already awake at 5am. I never sleep past 8:30, but that was two nights in a row. I was very excited about the series, but I also think maybe subconsciously anxious, because I knew it was coming to an end. I didn’t play up to my standard, or what the team needed in that last game, and that hurt even more. I hate to disappoint people, especially the ones I care so much about.

I guess the regular season means nothing at the end when you don’t win the title. But still how would you summarize the season of the WWU Baskets Muenster? What was your fondest moment?

I don’t like when people use that logic, because you still learn, and grow as individual players, coaches and as a team during that whole year. I would summarize our season as a fun and exciting rollercoaster ride. We had a few injuries at the most inconvenient times; I got injured briefly during the preseason after feeling great; Cosmo Gruehn after showcasing a 27 pt game injures his hand for a good chunk of the season; Adam Tourey goes down at a crucial end stretch of the season with a torn LCL but that’s a part of the game. One of my favorite memories was in our first round in the playoffs when we played away at Coburg. Guys were in the best moods, encouraging one another, having fun, sharing and moving the ball. No one played outstanding, but I felt everyone contributed in a way that made the game so easy and fun to play.

Head coach Philipp Kappenstein continues to do very good work with the club. How have you seen him develop as a head coach in the last years?

Philipp is an amazing coach, period! The way he can relate and communicate with players is like none other I’ve ever experienced before. His most noticeable growth I’ve noticed is that he was willing to adjust more willingly according to matchups and personnel on the floor. He likes his teams to play very aggressive and at times it was just not the right decision for some teams and players. He was willing to change it up and be more passive, which won us a lot more games in the end.

Let’s talk about your teammates. There are so many good big men in the Pro B and one of those is Malcolm Delpeche. What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?

Malcolm is one of the most dominant nice players I’ve ever met. He could easily average 20-15 in the Pro B, I would bet my salary on that. But he is too nice of guy, which I think holds him back. Depending on the day he’ll give you a double double, or he’ll kind of float along the game. However, that’s one of the things I’ve learned and loved to appreciate about his game the most. He’s so unselfish and kind that he’s looking for others, before he looks for his own.

One guy I enjoyed watching early in his career was Cosmo Gruehn. He made huge strides in Muenster the last two years. How is he a different player today then he was on day one in 2019?

I mean Cosmo is a special case, the guy is young, about 204cm, 110kg, can defend, can score from all three areas and has some playmaking ability. I see what he can do every day in practice so it’s no surprise for me when he has a game like 19pts, 9 rebs and 5 assists, in 25 minutes on 7-10 shooting. From the beginning what I noticed though was how he was able to bounce back from the injury and not having a shorter leash for mistakes in game. He stayed confident and delivered when we needed him most. So, his confidence and perseverance were things I noticed most.

Jasper Guenther took a step back last season from the Pro A and had a very strong Pro B season. How did you see him develop and is the younger brother of BBL legend Per ready now for the BBL?

Jasper is a dogg!!! He’ll do anything to win and I really admire that about him. That must be the Guenther genes, because if those guys were any taller, they’d be terrifying opponents. I think he’s grown his decision making a lot from what I saw. He’s also a guy who can score on all three areas and at times he’d either shoot a tough 3 pointer, or drive into traffic. I think he’s found a good balance when to do each of those and also utilize his midrange game. I don’t think he’s BBL ready now, but he definitely has the heart and work ethic to be a solid player at that level if that’s a goal of his.

The club continues to develop many young German players. Which guy do you feel improved the most this season?

I think that’s a little tough to answer, I don’t think any of our young guys developed more than the other, but they developed different aspects of their games.

Who was the toughest player that you faced in the Pro B this season?

I think Montrell Scott, he’s also a guy who can score at all 3 levels, and with his height and quickness he can be difficult to contain when he gets it going

You played professionally in Austria and Germany. Why have you decided to retire after only 5 professional seasons?

No particular reason, I just don’t want to play basketball anymore. I’ve had an amazing 5 years, I’ve established some amazing relationships and the experience I’ve gathered has no price.

Talk a little about your life after professional basketball. You will be getting into coaching. How instrumental was your dad Mike in helping you make this decision?

plan on learning as much as I can from current, and past coaches. I know a lot back in the states, so I will be a sponge and soak up as much information as I can. I want to eventually become a head coach, but to start I plan on being an assistant at the High School or Collegiate level. I just want to help young players develop their individual skills and knowledge of the game. More importantly be a great role model and help with any mental barriers players may have. He wasn’t instrumental at all. I’ve coached in the past during the summers and I always knew I would want to do it after I was done; I just didn’t expect it to be this soon I guess.

What was the most important thing that you learned from your dad that helped you on the court as a player and also what will help you in the future as a coach?

The most important thing is that you can’t be everyone’s friend. You cannot make everyone happy and if you try you will fail. Those were some of the lessons I learned under his tutelage. I believe these aspects will help me, because I do try and please everyone.

There are many guys that would do anything to win one professional title. You won 8 in Austria. You have won more titles than Tom Brady.

I’m very blessed and thankful. I was privileged enough to join a team in Kapfenberg at the right time. I believe luck and timing play a big role in sports. For me I happened to come at the right time of Kapfenberg’s success. Hahaha I hope Tom Brady continues to win more titles so he can surpass me

Of all the 8 titles you won, if you had to pick one, which was the sweetest?

Definitely the first. That first year in Kapfenberg we had such an amazing and deep team. The personalities and characters on that team just meshed, it was so harmonious. Also, we had about 5 young guys and they were all special in their own way. To be able to celebrate that success with that entire group, and my mother and father were there to see me win; I was speechless

You played two seasons with Kareem Jamar and went through much with him. Did all those titles together give you guys a special bond for life?

Kareem and I were tight from day 1. We always drove to practice and ate lunch together. We also would always get in extra work before, or after practice together. I believe had we not won titles ou rbond would be just as strong. It does make it that much sweeter that we won together though.

Your success was surely helped by your chip on your shoulder after playing JUCO and NAIA. With all the success you had in Austria, did that lesson the burden of your chip somewhat on your shoulder?

It never burdened me, I was always overlooked, to my own fault, but it definitely prepared me for what was to come. I’m not sure, possibly but I always play to win, and I believe any team I’m apart of always has a good chance of winning. That’s always been my mentality, even when I was a kid and we would play a simple game of tag.

How did head coach Scot Garson help groom and prepare for a professional basketball career?

I think his biggest lesson was not taking plays off. He would scold me at times to push myself further when I thought I had exhausted myself, but he knew I had more in the tank to give. That definitely helped me overall, especially when working out and pushing myself further in the offseason workouts.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Emanuel Morgan?

Emmanual Morgan is one of the quickest and fastest guys I’ve ever seen. He has that ball on a string like no other. We never played outside of practice and when we would do one on one drills in practice I never got matched up with him. It would be interesting to find out though.

Please name your five best teammates of all-time?

That’s really hard.
I’ve had so many amazing teammates, who have brought different attributes and skills to the game.
In no particular order:
Alex Campbell
Kareem Jamar
Nemanja Kristic
Malcolm Delpeche
Albert Ngoy

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore from past or present NBA heads?

In no particular order:
Michael Jordan
Bill Russell
Lebron James
Tim Duncan
Kobe Bryant

Chris Paul recently passed Magic Johnson for fifth all-time in assists. Where do you rank him with the best point guards all-time despite never having won a ring?

Chris Paul is a winner, period. Wherever he goes wins and other players flourish. I don’t think it’s fair to rank him, and only because he’s not done yet. The way he’s playing, he could go for 3-5 more years. If he retired today though, I would rank Magic Johnson first, Isaiah Thomas second, and Chris Paul third.

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

I think the debate is annoying at this point. It was fun a few years ago, but we all know that MJ ranks number 1. And also, they are each great in their own ways. For all I care people will debate till the end of time about those 2.

Have you seen the Coming to America sequel? It has had mixed reviews. Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?

I saw the mixed reviews before I saw the movie and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I appreciate the direction they went for, and bringing back nearly every character after 30 years was definitely not an easy task. Everyone seemed enthused and motivated as well, so in my eyes it was the correct decision.

Thanks Marck for the chat.

Ben Marello´s Decent Hands And Shot Blocking Abilities Will Give The EPG Baskets A Push On The Defensive End

Ben Marello (198-F-95, college: FSC) is a 24 year old 198cm forward from Daytona Beach, Florida that is playing his third professional season and first in Germany with SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Germany-ProB). Last season he played with Raisan Pas Pielagos (Spain-EBA) playing 13 games averaging 20.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 64.0%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 79.5%. As a rookie he played with Belfast Star (Ireland-Super League) playing 6 games averaging 21.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.5apg, 2.3spg, 2FGP: 58.6%, 3FGP: 40.0%, FT: 87.1%, in Jan.’20 moved to SKN St. Poelten Basketball (Austria-BSL) playing 6 games averaging 13.5ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 46.4%, FT: 54.5%. He began his college career with Henderson State University (NCAA2) in 2015 averaging 6.7ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 62.7% and in his second season averaged 12.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 71.4%. He then finished at Florida Southern College (NCAA2) averaging 9.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 63.5% as a junior and averaged 9.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 71.4%. He spoke to about his basketball career.

Hi Ben, thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

I am currently home in Florida and basketball training has been coming along well.

Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you about how you experienced COVID last season in Spain. What was the most challenging thing you witnessed on and off the court and still allowed you to play the season?

The most challenging thing would probably have to be all of uncertainty. You never know if you would actually play that week because of Covid.

With everything that you saw during COVID off the court how do you feel did everything make you stronger as a man?

The covid year definitely made me a stronger person overall.

Congrats on signing with German pro B team EPG Baskets Koblenz. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?

I’ve heard that the country is beautiful and I know that the basketball is played at a very high level.

How did you experience the talks with new head coach Mario Dugundzic? What impressed you most in the first talks?

He seems like a very genuine guy. He seems very positive about the club and it gives me confidence going forward.

What were the main reasons for signing with this very ambitious German pro B team? Was there the feeling that playing for this club could help your game develop further and did ex teammate Kelvin Lewis give you tips on Germany?

I had actually just spoken with Kelvin about my decision the day before I signed. He agreed that playing in Koblenz could help me get to the next level with enough hard work.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 198cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I’d say I play like Paul Pierce or maybe Dirk Nowitzki

You were a solid scorer in school, but really heightened your scoring as a professional in Ireland and Spain. Did this happen only because of a bigger role change or did something improve with your scoring abilities?

I think my confidence took a big leap and I was forced into a scoring role which helped me become the player I am now.

You can really score the ball and rebound well, but what other strengths does your game incorporate?

I think I have very good hands defensively and I am a decent shot blocker.

You also seem to be a very ambitious defender. Do you see yourself not only making an impact on the offensive end, but also more on the defensive end as you continue to climb the basketball ladder?

I want to continue to grow at both ends of the court as I go forward each year.

Your three point shooting still seems to be a work in progress. How confident are you that this could become more of a weapon over time?

I have a ton of confidence in my shot and mechanics. I’ll continue to work and I know it will pay off.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most now to continue to improve as a player?

I’ve been really trying to gain muscle and become a more physically dominant player.

Last season you played with Raisan Pas Pielagos (Spain-EBA) playing 13 games averaging 20.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 64.0%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 79.5%. How do you feel did your game blossom here and grow in your second professional season?

It taught me patience and I learned how to become more well rounded player

As a rookie you started with Belfast Star (Ireland-Super League) playing 6 games averaging 21.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.5apg, 2.3spg, 2FGP: 58.6%, 3FGP: 40.0%, FT: 87.1%. How much was it a wake up call coming from warm and sunny Florida to rainy Ireland?

It was definitely an adjustment but the people were so kind that it made up for the bad weather.

You finished the season with St. Poelten Basketball (Austria-BSL,) playing 6 games averaging 13.5ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 46.4%, FT: 54.5%. How important was this experience. How vital was pure scorer Kelvin Lewis for your play there?

His ability to score really spaced the floor for me and he did a great job of finding me at the perfect times.

The Austrian league is a good league and higher than the German Pro B. Do you feel pressure to have to come in right away and make not an impact, but a huge impact in the Pro B?
No I don’t feel any pressure. I just go out there and do what I know how to do.

You began your NCAA 2 career at Henderson State University (NCAA2) playing 50 games. You improved your stats dramatically in your second year. What kind of an experience was it playing there and why did you go after two years?

I’m grateful for my 2 years at Henderson State and I learned a lot. I wanted to be closer to my family my last 2 years of school so I made the transfer.

You had many fine games at Henderson State, but was your 21 points in your last game a good way of closing out your stay there despite the loss?

I would say it was a good way to go out. We lost but I gave the team everything I had left in me.

You then finished at Florida Southern College (NCAA2) playing 2 seasons. How enjoyable was it closing out your NCAA 2 career wining the SSC title? What memories do you have from that run?

It was an unreal experience winning the title. I have unlimited memories of just being around the players and staff that make me smile to this day.

How did head coach Mike Donnelly groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

He helped me understand the game even more. His style of coaching helped me open my eyes to different styles and paces that have definitely helped me become a more balanced player.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Slinky Jones?

We have had our fair share of wins vs each other

Who was the best player that you have ever faced in your life on a court anywhere that reached the NBA?

I’d have to say Grayson Allen was probably the best. He was so dominant in high school.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Kelvin Lewis, Matt Panaggio, Jacob Schner, Aaron Cooper, Kevin Marfo

Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain

What is your personal opinion of the non stop debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

LeBron James is the greatest player of all time. He’s so well rounded

What was the last movie that you saw?

Forrest Gump

Thanks Ben for the chat.

Blake Schilb(Czech Republic National team) Remembers Tomas Satoransky Not Calling Bank But Game In Win Over Canada To Reach The 2021 Olympics

Blake Schilb being Guarded by Canadian national and NBA superstar Andrew Wiggins

Blake Schilb (201-G/F-83, college: Loyola, IL) is a player that has seen very much in his 14 professional seasons, played in many countries in Europe including the Czech Republic, France, Serbia, Turkey, and Spain which has spanned approximately 591 professional games not including his national team caps and 118 NCAA games with Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA). The American born naturalized Czech Republic player from Rantoul, Illinois has experienced so many things in his professional career, but remembers that first meeting with French/Bulgarian sharp shooter Ilian Evtimov as if it was yesterday in 2007 when he was a rookie playing an exhibition game against the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in Frankfurt. Sometimes the basketball world can be so small as Schilb was a rookie with Era Basketball Nymburk that had the talented guard duo of Monty Mack and Arthur Lee, not to mention a young 25 year old Petr Benda who was playing his first season there and was starting his amazing and unbelievable run of winning 25 club titles that is still active today as he won the double in 2021, plus head coach Muli Katzurin who would coach Frankfurt a few years later and a certain young assistant coach Ronen Ginzburg who is the mastermind of the 2021 Czech Republic run to the 2021 Summer Olympics. While on the other side of the floor was second year man Ilian Evtimov who had come off a less than spectacular rookie season in Italy, but had had a stellar NCAA career at North Carolina State. Evtimov was surrounded by great talent as well with Skyliner legend in the making Pascal Roller as well as Mr ballerina Derrick Allen, sniper Jimmy Mckinney and German national player Nino Garris. Both would later cross paths again playing with ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA) from 2010-2013 and having their biggest success as professionals together. Not only did they help the organization win their first ever professional title, but won 4 in that span including two league cups, a AS Cup title as well as the Pro A title. When having had so much success together, it isn’t surprising that Blake Schilb can have nothing but the utmost love and respect for his ex teammate. ‘You know I first met Ilian while he was playing in Frankfurt. I was in Czech Republic at the time playing for Nymburk and we came over to play a friendly match. I didn’t know who he was before then but he made sure that I never forgot him after lol. Of course the rest is history with what we did in France together. Real stand up guy; hands down one of the best shooters I’ve ever played with’, warned Blake Schilb. The love for each other is mutual. ‘I do remember that meeting in Frankfurt very well. He is a well rounded player that could do anything. A gentleman on the court. What I didn’t realize is how high his IQ actually is until I played with him. Everything was easy and simple. Basketball was fun and flawless when we played together in Chalon. We would laugh often when we would do something, and speaking just with the eyes, and then we would trick the opponent for an open shot or lay up. He is the best player I have ever played with, because he had the ability to take over the game alone but more importantly he elevated other teammates to play their best basketball’, stressed Ilian Evtimov. His teammates also have the utmost respect for him. ‘He is a great teammate that has given me a lot of knowledge about the game. He is a great personality that is always calm. When you need a difficult basket, he will get it for you’, stated Patrick Samoura.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing former North Carolina State(NCAA) great Illian Evtimov in 2008 in Frankfurt
Illian Evtimov and Blake Schilb´s first meeting in Frankfurt in 2007

The ex Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA ) great who was on the radar of the Milwaukee Bucks when he was a junior and would have been drafted, but opted to return back to school instead of being drafted finished his career there ranked fourth on Loyola’s career scoring chart (1,879 points) and also ranks as the all-time leader in three-point field goals made (204), 19th in rebounds (600), sixth in assists (430) and fourth in steals (159) recently made history in his country helping lead the Czech republic national basketball team to their first Olympic games. But getting their wasn’t an easy task as they had to qualify and did it in absolute super mega incredible fashion ousting the highly talent Canadian team that had an abundance of NBA stars not much different to the USA and also disposing of Greece who are always stacked with unforgettable players. All in all the Czech Republic seemed to always heighten their play from game to game starting with a comfortable win over Turkey 87-70 which was followed by a real tight affair against Uruguay 80-79 which raised their self-confidence going into the battle against France. ‘The games against both Uruguay and Canada were both nail biters. You would think that escaping with a 1 point win, we would not want to repeat that. However, some costly turnovers in regulation against Canada and we found ourselves in overtime with the hosts. It was a heavy weight battle; both teams throwing blows back and forth. There was a point when I thought it would never end’, remembered Blake Schilb. The Czech Republic were playing superb basketball against Canada, but the contest is never over until the fat lady sings as Canada stormed back in the fourth quarter. The heroics for the game winner fell in the lap of none other than NBA player and star of the team Tomas Satoransky who helped Czech Republic basketball once again reach a new milestone in their basketball history with the 103-101 victory over Canada after reaching sixth place at the 2019 World Cup. The ex FC Barcelona guard made a dazzling one on one play and nailed the shot a bit surprisingly untypical with a bank shot. ‘Those last few seconds when Saty (Tomas) had the ball it was like being in and watching a movie with only one take. When he took the shot, I did not even think to go rebound because I knew it would go in. What I didn’t know is that it would go in off the glass first. I asked him after ‘did you call bank?’ He then replied ‘I called game’, smiled Blake Schilb. Both big man Ondrej Balvin (14/19/4 stats and Blake Schilb (31p and 7a) had monster games and were instrumental in the win. Schilb who was still a bit rusty at the Super Cup in Hamburg a few weeks before saved his best for last and didn’t shy away from showing his sense of humor. ‘Ondrej Balvin is the rock for our team; he controls the paint on both ends of the floor and has just become such a prominent factor in our team’s success. As for the guy Blake Schilb. I think he surprised himself a bit that day’, laughed Blake Schilb. Canada had a smorgasbord of incredible players like Andrew Wiggens, RJ Barrett, Trey Lyles, Cory Joseph, Luegenz Dort and Dwight Powell just to name a few and for the younger players like Patrick Samoura, it must have been like being a five year old boy in a Walgreens and drooling over the newest Fireman Sam toys. For Schilb there was one player who especially stood out to him with his play. ‘The roster for Canada was loaded with NBA players; on paper you could perhaps match them up with some of the stronger USA teams. The player who stood out the most to me in that game had to be Nickeil Alexander-Walker; to me he played with a sense of urgency the whole game’, expressed Blake Schilb who balled at the 2015 European Championships.

If the win against Canada wasn’t already enough, team Czech Republic still weren’t qualified and had to beat Greece in the final and the underdogs still weren’t satisfied and wanted more. On paper Greece were the heavy favorite, but in today’s basketball, it doesn’t mean anything as Nigeria showed recently beating team USA in an exhibition game in preparation for the Olympics. The Czech Republic went into the Greece game with nothing to lose and played their hearts out as the favorite had no chance. The Czech Republic totally dominated and led easily 81-53 after three quarters. The Czech Republic never lost focus and buckled down until the final buzzer and won 91-72. ‘My feeling from the tip against Greece and the way we stormed out was we were going to show no remorse. Patrik Auda led our team in scoring; It was also great to see Jan Vesely bring his energy in that game as well. I believe we had 5 players in double figures that game, so it showed we have capabilities to score from everywhere’, warned Blake Schilb. The last quarter must have been as long for the Czech Republic players like it is for that poor kid in Europe who sees all the gifts under the tree, but has to wait until dinner is over to finally open presents the way some families celebrate Christmas there. ‘The last minutes were very long, especially since we had a controlling lead. There were a bit of worries on the side still because the way we let leads slip the prior two games (Uruguay and Canada) but we showed maturity in the final’, added Blake Schilb. The ex Paris-Levallois (France-ProA) player has played many many games in his career, but seldom did he have the kind of special feeling when the siren sounded and he knew he would be going to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. ‘It was actually hard to fathom once the final second on the clock expired but I think the expressions shown were blissful. It’s hard to actually process at the moment, I’m still trying to grasp the idea that we will be going to the Olympics right now at 540am’, said Blake Schilb. After a win like that, one can understand that the elation that everyone has is enormous and finding the right words and length can be very short. ‘After the Greece win coach didn’t say much but that he was proud of everybody involved. He was soaked in all the water we poured on him once he came in the locker room lol he kept it short and sweet’, stated Blake Schilb. Who knows how the Czech Republic team would have been celebrating in the Canadian city Victoria had there not been COVID, but with the current situation people saw a different type of Czech Republic team joy. ‘I believe Victoria got just a taste of what it’s like to see a happy Czech basketball team. Considering we were in the bubble most of the time; I think it allowed us to have the most fun out on the court’, expressed Blake Schilb.

Just like no one has to debate now that Lionel Messi is on top of the world after leading Argentina to the Copa America title, it is the same for the Czech Republic national team that qualifying for the 2021 Summer Olympics is the absolute biggest achievement in their basketball history. ‘I think it’s safe to say that this has to be the biggest achievement in our generations history. Going to the World Cup and finishing sixth was awesome but building on that by qualifying for the Olympics has showed another level for the Czech basketball’, warned Blake Schilb. But the Czech National team don’t want to be tourists at the Olympics, but make an impact in their group. But that won’t be an easy assignment as they drew USA and France in their group. But if they keep their ‘You Gotta Believe attitude then really anything is possible. ‘For sure our group is a tough one. It’s the Olympic Games; every team is going to try to bring their best shot. The order in which we play our games could be significant in our favor. Most important is believing like we always do’, stressed Blake Schilb. He is really looking forward to the opening ceremony and just seeing all walks of life representing their nations and world sport again. The Czech Republic aren’t near to having the same talent like many other nations in the tournament, but they have two very vital things that will help them achieve success. ‘This team of guys has chemistry and have been together for a while now on the national stage. Except for a few of the younger talents who have fit in nicely. We all like to play basketball no doubt but also know about one another’s lives when we are not with the national team’, commented Blake Schilb. Not only do the guys play together very well, but they all like each other and care about each other on and off the court. What better conditions can one have then that for making possible sweet memories at the Olympics.