Despite COVID Having Been One Of The Dererk Pardon´s(medi Bayreuth)Hardest Years Of His Life It Hasn´t Effected His Motor On The Court

For many basketball junkies the tragic news of the passing of Kobe Bryant in January 2020 could have been the worst headline of the year, but at that time nobody had any serious idea just how much the world would change in March 2020 as COVID-19 hit the world harder than a combination of a Lawrence Taylor and Jack “assassin”Taum hit could ever a NFL running back back in the day like Franco Harris. For most basketball players their season ended in March as leagues were cancelled world wide. It wasn´t any different for easyCredit BBL center Derek Pardon who´s season actually ended in late February as he was playing his rookie season in Italy with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy-Serie A) and broke his hand in a friendly game. From that point on 2020 would be like a nasty dream that didn´t have any future of ending as COVID-19 affected everybody´s lives in some way or another. The American was lucky to get on a plane just before Italy went on complete lock down. He came home with a bad injury and had to deal with isolation and quarantine. The doctors decided not to perform surgery, because of the unsureness of the virus. He was lucky that despite not getting surgery, he was still able to fully recover, but it wasn´t easy. He had to rehab alone at home for 9 weeks. The off season was a struggle for him, but he was fortunate to find a new club in Germany with medi Bayreuth. But COVID-19 didn´t just disappear the way a Isiah Thomas has from the NBA, but remained. COVID-19 didn´t make life on and off the court any easier for him in Germany as the 20-21 season began. “ In Germany, they are very strict with the Covid protocols on and off the court. On the court, we have to take several Covid tests a week, and follow the social distancing rules while not directly on the court. Early on in the season, a lot of teams in the league were being exposed to covid so they would have to quarantine for weeks. In November we were one of those teams. It was extremely hard to go from two weeks of house workouts to playing live BBL games. This frustrated me a lot because it felt like I couldn’t really get in a rhythm. Since the beginning of 2021 the league has done a great job of keeping us protected and safe as possible. Off the court has been a struggle for me. We can’t really interact with our teammates off the court and Bayreuth has been on lockdown for most of the year so I have not been able to explore the city and surrounding towns. Also with the travel restrictions seeing family and friends were not an option. This took a toll on me mentally especially during the holidays. I can definitely say it was one of the hardest years of my life. That’s what makes finishing the season so satisfying because I know I did not quit and I actually because a more mature and stronger person”, stressed Dererk Pardon. Despite all the hardships that he has endured in the last year, it hasn´t effected his game on the court as he has ben able to be that basketball motor and heightened his game from his average rookie season in Italy. Covid-19 in a way has also helped him mature as a player and person off the court. “Covid 19- has made me a stronger person because I had to be resilient and extremely focused on my goals even while being in the middle of a pandemic. I feel if an athlete can endure and get through a year overseas during this time they can get through a lot in anything in life”, warned Dererk Pardon.  

                Dererk Pardon was born on October 1st, 1996 in Cleveland, Ohio. One thing I never noticed until my basketball buddy Fabian Beierlein told was that Pardon´s first name isn´t written Derrick or Derek, but Dererk. hasn´t realized it either as Derek is how his first name is presented on his profile. He didn´t begin to play basketball until seventh grade. He attended Villa Angela-St Joseph high school. He played basketball, but was also talented in football. He made the varsity team in tenth grade and won a division 3 state title. In his junior season he averaged 11,5ppg and 10,5rpg and as a senior recorded 12,3ppg and 11,5rpg while setting a school record 101 blocks and won his second division 3 title. In the title game he just missed getting a triple double as he had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 9 blocks. The three star recruit then committed to Northwestern despite having offers from Pittsburgh and Xavier. He was going to redshirt his freshman year, but due to injuries began his NCAA career in December. He already showed his abilities recording 28 points and 12 rebounds in a 81-72 win over Nebraska. This was a team where he would have their number for many years All in all his freshman year was one to remember as the club also reached the NCAA tournament losing to Gonzaga. He made the game winning lay up in the crucial and thrilling 67-65 win over Michigan that sent Northwestern to their first ever NCAA tournament. “Beside the Tournament itself that is definitely my favorite moment. It felt like a movie. Seeing all those people cheer for us and getting to share that moment with my teammates was priceless”, stressed Dererk Pardon. As a freshman he played 20 games and averaged  : 6.7ppg, 4.2rpg, FGP: 64.6%, FT: 52.9%

.           In his sophomore season, the American who jokes that ex teammate and NBA player Vic Law was too scared to play him in one on one was able to make another jump in his game playing 28 games averaging  8.6ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.1apg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 61.1%, FT: 54.4%. He had another great performance against Nebraska as he exploded for 19 points and 22 boards in a 73-61 victory which at that time had been the most rebounds since Jim Pitts in 1965. It was obviously one of those times where he felt invincible. “, It was one of those moments where you just felt like the ball was falling in your hands after a while. I got every right bounce”, remembered Dererk Pardon. He also scored 14 points against Iowa and Vanderbilt. He also had a spectacular game against Rutgers as he posted 8 points, 11 boards and 8 blocks in the 69-60 win. His game made another jump his junior year as he played 32 games averaging 11.3ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.2apg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 62.2%, FT: 61.5%. He scored in double figures in 19 games and had four double doubles. He scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Nebraska and had 13 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks in a win against Minnesota.

 He finished his NCAA career improving his scoring again as a senior playing 32 games averaging 14.0ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 60.7%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 68.3%. When he looks back at his NCAA career at Northwestern(NCAA), he is very pleased of how his game grew. “My game developed a lot at Northwestern. I learned how to actually play the game of basketball. My game was raw coming out of high school and NU allowed me to develop my skills over my four years”, stated Dererk Pardon. He scored in double figures in 28 games and had 8 double doubles. Some of his most memorable games included a 24 point and 10 rebound game in a tough 68-66 loss against Indiana, 20 points in a loss to Michigan and 20 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Ohio State. He knows that he is very blessed for having Chris Collins at Northwestern as his coach. “Coach Collins along with my high school coach just taught me how to be a professional on and off the court. To do things the right way and give your all. they were also very tough coaches so that help me have tough skin in my profession career”, warned Dererk Pardon. He also will never forget his special relationship to teammate Vic Law who would reach the NBA. “It was great playing with Vic. He’s an extremely competitive and talented player. We both are high energy guys so I think that’s where we connected on the court. I knew he was going to give his all and he knew I would do the same. Off the court he’s a funny and enthusiastic dude. We would always hang out together and quickly became the best of friends. My fondest memory with him on the court would have to be the NCAA tournament in 2017. It was a great experience I got to share with my brother. Off the court he would just say the times we would hang out at each others apartments”, expressed Derek Pardon. He departed from Northwestern as the school´s all-time leader in career field goal percentage at 603. He also reached the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals in 2017 and was a All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2019 and made the Big Ten All-Sportsmanship Team in 2019.

           Before turning professional the American who last watched Seven starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman played at the well known Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) playing 3 games averaging 10.7ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.3apg. He then got the special opportunity to play NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic (MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas) playing 3 games averaging  5.7ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 53.8%, FT: 60.0%. “The summer league was a great experience for me. I enjoyed being around all those great players and coaches. being there gave me the confidence that I could one day play in that league”, stressed Derek Pardon. The NBA is a dream for every basketball player and for the American getting to the highest level is one that he sees being able to be reality one day. “I feel like I keep up good with those guys. I don’t feel like I’m too far removed from the NBA.  if I have a great summer and an opportunity anything can happen”, warned Dererk Pardon. He was teammates with ex NBA player Amile Jefferson and current ratiopharm Ulm big man John Petrucelli. In his first BBL game, he suffered a brutal 101-76 loss against ratiopharm Ulm scoring 7 points and hauling down 9 rebounds while his counterpart also played his first BBL game scoring 16 points grabbing 8 boards and dishing out 7 assists. “Both were really good dudes. They played very hard especially for it being summer league. You could tell those two from playing there already were the heart and soul of that Lakeland Magic team”, remembered Dererk Pardon. He then began his professional season in Italy with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Serie A) playing 21 games and averaging 6.1ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 54.3%, FT: 74.4%. He scored in double figures in four games and registered one double double. He had 16 points against Virtus Rome and 11 assists against Cantu. Overall it wasn´t an easy rookie season as the club was stacked with a lot of talent. He remembered that he had a lot of soul searching to do as he was very far away from home. “I realized that I was actually by myself. Yes, after a while I developed relationships with teammates but they still had their own lives. I had a lot of time to think about who I was as a person and I had to mature on and off the court quickly”, said Dererk Pardon. A plus often when playing on a deep talented team is that you will have many veterans by your side. One of those was American Josh Owens. He had won a NIT title at Stanford(NCAA), won a title in Israel and played four years in Italy and knew the ropes. “ I had a great relationship with Josh. He is truly a vet’s vet and knows how to get things done the right way. He taught me a lot on the court and getting to train with him everyday only sharpened my game. Off the court he is also someone I look up to because he handles his business as a true professional”, stated Dererk Pardon.

           The American who lists NBA legends MJ, Lebron, Kobe, and Magic Johnson in his personal NBA Mount Rushmore moved to Germany in his second professional season with medi Bayreuth. Despite having a tough rookie season in Italy, he flourished in Germany and is thankful for his stay in Italy. “It has been a great experience playing in the BBL. There are a lot of great teams and players in this league so I was very excited to play against top notch competition. I feel like Italy prepared me for the physicality of the BBL so it was definitely an easier transition. As far as Medi I am extremely happy with the club and have enjoyed all the staff and playing with my teammates”, said Dererk Pardon.  The team had been playing better basketball as of late and the playoffs were a realistic goal in April 2021. “I am very confident that we can accomplish that goal. We just have to continue to compete every game on both ends of the floor and take it one game at a time”, warned Dererk Pardon.  He and German big man Andreas Seiferth form a very potent duo under the basket. They are a bit off the radar in the league in terms of their worth to the team, but the American knows what they bring to the table and is blessed having him as a teammate. “It has been great playing with Andreas. Having a vet that has 10 plus years of experience that you can go against every day is priceless. He taught me a lot of little things that can make me a great pro. He’s extremely skilled and just knows how to play the game on both ends. Andreas and I hold down the fort and are the anchors at both ends of the court. We just try to bring what the team needs most that night if it means scoring more or making an impact on the defensive end”, stressed Dererk Pardon. Even if he has a lot of American teammates, he has found a big respect for his German teammates like captain and German national player Bastian Doreth. “Basti is just an absolute leader. He gets people in the right spots, holds his teammates accountable and just makes the games easier for everybody around him. He never takes a play off and as his teammate you just know he will give his all every game”, warned Dererk Pardon.

                His toughest opponent that he dueled in the NCAA was current Atlanta Hawk John Collins a guy he remembers as being very special and having a motor like he has. He is an undersized 203cm center that compares his game to current Los Angeles Laker Montrezl Harrell who is also undersized but is strong, athletic and tough enough to guard players 3 or 4 inches taller than him. He also has the speed and mobility to get around bigger defenders. “I feel like we have similar motors. He gives 110% every game and that’s something I pride myself in”, warned Dererk Pardon. He finished his season in Germany with medi Bayreuth averaging 11,2ppg, 6,0rpg, 1,2apg and 1,1bpg. The lefty rarely shoots from farther away than 14 feet thus giving him a high field goal percentage. He shot 60% or better in all four years in the NCAA, but last season dropped to 54% in Italy. In Germany he shot at a high rate again at 67%. He got a big laugh when I asked him how realistic 70% is. “ I’m not sure honestly, I’m just trying to improve every year to become a better ball player. if 70% from the field ends up being a by product from that then I’ll be very happy”, added Dererk Pardon.  He is a guy that can score, rebound and block shots, but sees his biggest strength somewhere else. “I think my biggest asset is my motor. When I’m grabbing rebounds and flying around on defense, that’s when my offense comes into play”, warned Dererk Pardon. He is a very ambitious defender that knows how to block shots. For him it´s all about timing and has learned when to go for the ball and when to keep his hands up when defending in the paint. He is also ready to make the next step on defense. “ To me, a lot of defense is effort and effort is one thing you can always control on the court. you can’t always control your shots, playing time or how many times you get the ball but you can dictate how hard you play.  My next step would be to be able to defend the guard spot. Becoming a more versatile defender would make me more valuable to teams”, stressed Dererk Pardon. But he also wants to continue to become a better offensive player. “Definitely shooting is a part of my game I will constantly work on. It’s a big topic for me this summer and hopefully it will become a part of me in the future”, added Dererk Pardon. He is just at the start of his professional career and he continues to get better each game. He is a player that will always find a way to get points. He also knows that if he can continue to give the needed energy and play defense, that that will help spark his offense. As long as his motivation and love for the game is always present, his motor will always be on. That is something that any club at any level will be more than happy to experience on a daily basis.

Adam Eberhard Has Realized That His Limited physically and Athleticism Won´t Allow Him To Move To Higher Leagues But His Basketball IQ Will Allow Him To Coach At An Extremely High Level

Adam Eberhard (203-F-97, college: Bellarmine, agency: GoEmpire Group) is a 203cm forward playing his second professional season with Residence Walferdange (Luxembourg-Total League). This will also be his last season as he has announced he will retire after the season and join the coaching staff at Tennessee (NCAA). As a rookie he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) playng 28 games averaging 7.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 80.5%. he began his basketball career at Francis Joseph Reitz Memorial High School and then played at Bellarmine University (NCAA2) from 2015-2019 playing 123 games. He spoke to after his 46 point explosion against Amicale.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Adam Eberhard in 2019 during his rookie season in Germany with the MLP Academics

Adam thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and are these the best times of your basketball life with getting a job at Tennessee State and notching a triple double?

I’m currently at my coaches house just hanging out for the day. I’m definitely loving where I’m at right now in terms of basketball. I’m enjoying my final season while preparing to coach at the highest level of college basketball. The triple double was just a bonus!

After playing as a rookie I Heidelberg as a rookie, you are playing your second professional season with Residence Walferdange (Luxembourg-Total League). How have you experienced the pandemic in Luxemburg this season. What challenges did you have in a new country?

Luxembourg has handled the pandemic pretty well. There was a break for a couple months while cases went down but we were able to come back and play.

Residence is having a great season currently in first place. What kind of an experience is it playing with a team that just moved up from the second division?

It’s been an awesome experience playing with this team. We feel we have to do extra to prove ourselves but we are in the number one spot which we are happy about.

It has been said that the Luxemburg Total League is similar to the German fourth division Regionalliga. Is this league a lot better and competitive than what it is given credit for?

I don’t think the league is given enough credit. The Americans in this league are just as good as any other league and the Lux players are up and coming. I would compare it to in between Pro A and Pro B.

Your having a great season producing 19/14/3 stats . How much fun has it been playing in Luxemburg winning and just putting up amazing stats?

It’s been great to play a big role on a winning team. I didn’t play well enough to do that last year and to be able to do it again is great.

You recently put up a massive triple double of 46 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists. Did you have any idea as the buzzer sounded that your stats were that good?

It was a crazy game. I knew that I had a lot of points and rebounds but I had no idea I had that many assists.

Did you eat something different before the game or what propelled you to really explode on the court showing your vast versatility?

I actually did eat something different from usual. I always get Linguini Scampi from my favorite restaurant but lately they have made it differently which forced me to switch to a Pizza Italia

You were averaging only 3,0apg going into the game and your most assists this season was 6. How high do you rate your 12 assists?

I’ve always loved to pass so the assists aren’t anything special to me. I have a larger scoring role on the team this year so I don’t get as many assists as usual.

You really have developed your three pointer this season. You once hit 5 three’s against Wisconsin-Parkside, but was never known really as being that high volume three point shooter. That changed this season. What has been your biggest attribute to your three pointer being much more of an option this season?

I learned quickly last year that with my limited physical abilities and weight, I would need to develop into an elite three point shooter to be successful.

You scored 46 points in a professional game in Europe. Guys scoring 40 plus points is rare anywhere in Europe. Doesn’t a performance like this give you another voice inside to continue your career?

The performance doesn’t make me second guess my decision. I’m still very happy about my coaching opportunity and now I’m very happy I was able to play a game like this before I retired.

You recently announced that you will further your basketball career as an assistant at Tennessee (NCAA) as an graduate assistant. Was this opportunity to big to continue your professional career? How tough was this decision?

For me it felt like an easy decision. I’ve always loved the tactical part of the game and it’s what I’m really good at. I feel like physically and athletically I am limited to the point where I won’t be able to move up to higher leagues in Europe, but my basketball IQ will allow me to coach at an extremely high level.

Some guys will play many years in Europe for little money before heading back to the States at age 30 and then not knowing what comes next. You played in the German Pro A and could surely have continued playing at a high level. Did you have some doubts about not earning the kind of money you would have liked to thus taking this opportunity to coach where you have a better fixed income?

My decision wasn’t about money. It was about how great of an opportunity Tennessee is and how I didn’t want to pass it up.

What are you looking forward to your new challenge with Tennessee (NCAA) and what do you know now will you miss most from strapping on the sneakers?

I’m looking forward to working with these high level athletes and teaching them the things I know about the game. Hopefully the tactical part of the game that I can teach them can help them reach the level I’ve played at or even higher.

Ending your professional career with a professional title would serve as a great ending to your professional playing career. How confident are you that Residence can be able to win it all?

Winning a championship is always the goal and I think we have a great opportunity to compete for the championship. We’ve shown through the first round of games that we can beat anybody and hopefully we can continue that.

Do you still follow your ex club MLP Academics who are competing for the title? What will you never forget from your rookie season?

I still follow MLP and root for them in their quest to reach the BBL. The experience in Heidelberg showed me what I needed to do to become successful in Europe.

Have you seen the Coming To America sequel? The reviews have been mixed. Shouldn’t they just have left the classic alone?

I haven’t seen the sequel but I would assume they should have just left the classic alone!

Thanks Adam for the chat.

KJ Sherrill Continues To Be That Offensive Force and That Big Play Defender For The EVL Baskets Limburg

KJ Sherrill (203-F/C-91, college: Augusta) is a 29 year old 203cm forward playing for the EVL Baskets Limburg, He has previous experience in Germany with the SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Germany-Regionalliga), Dragons Rhondorf, Telekom Baskets Bonn 2 team, Herten and the Cuxhaven BasCats (Germany-ProA). He played college ball at Charlotte (NCAA) from 2009-2012 playing 75 NCAA games and also played a season at Augusta University (NCAA2). He spoke to after the exciting 61-59 win over Fellbach.

Thanks KJ for talking to How tough was it having to play this three team tournament with so little practice and 3 games in 4 days?

It has been tough not having the normal shape and having been able to practice as much as the other teams in the tournament. But at the same time we also didn’t have pressure. We came into the tournament wanting to have fun. We knew that Elchlingen and Fellbach were better on paper, but that didn’t take away the fun that we wanted to have.

You lost the first two games badly in Fellbach and Elchlingen. How did the team take it mentally?

We didn’t try to think too much about how much we lost the first two games by. We only had practiced three weeks and we knew what we were capable of. Important for us was that we wanted to show the league that we were still together. We also wanted to show that we would fight in every game.

How vital has the pick up of Noah Westerhaus been for the success of the team?

Getting Noah has been huge. I knew what he brought to the table, because I had played with him in Koblenz. He is also attacking and goes hard every day. He is such a versatile player and is the best pick up that we could have gotten. He is happy with us. When he is happy then the team is happy.

What have been the hardest things to get adjusted to on the court with the little practice time?

We know that physically and mentally that we aren’t as good in shape as the other two teams. Teams have tried to take advantage of that. But we showed today in our win against Fellbach that if we trust each other on defense then we can play well. We played good zone and rebounded well. Important also was that our heart and desire was still there despite losing the first two games.

How was it battling Fellbach top player Scooter Gillette? You have the pounds advantage and he has the height advantage

have played against Scooter the last three years and know his game. He always gives you a run for the money. He runs the floor like a guard and is physical. I used my weight advantage in the first half to get him a bit tired. But in the second half his second nature of being in shape kicked in. But I felt that our helpers did a good job helping the help defense to get the job done. We played good team defense. Our biggest strength today was how well our zone played.

After two blow out loses on the road, how important was it finally being on home court against Fellbach?

Having the home court is always an advantage. Everyone feels good on the team when we are at home. Even if their weren’t many fans, their energy helped us as did the bench.

The high low game between you and Mantas Bernatavicius worked very well against Fellbach at home. How do you explain the good harmony between you two?

Mantas has played in higher leagues in his home land in the past. His smartness is there. His mobility can be a problem at times, but he always knows how to make the right play. I feel that he is one of the best passers on the team. He and I are a deadly presence on defense.

You lived on the rim the whole game. How key is anticipation in your game?

I know that my endurance isn’t there, so I have to outsmart my opponents and make the right moves. Important for me is to set the right ball screens and get my teammates shots. I really enjoy getting the guards open.

Limburg had a good first quarter leading 18-14. What was key for the lead?

We knew that it would be a tough game. Coach Danny Stahlbohm kept telling us that we have to keep our composure and make less turnovers. We knew that if we could do that that the game would be easier for us. We knew that Fellbach would pressure us. Our guards did a great job not panicking or overdribbling.

The Limburg offense tends to stagnate when Justin Stahlbohm isn’t on the court. How vital is his leadership for the success?

Justin is our team captain. His chemistry is always super on the court. He also has the highest IQ on the court. He sees the court really well and plays with a big heart and at the same time gives this physical presence. Having that physical presence makes him a better player.

How taxing was it in general playing only a 6-7 man rotation almost the whole game? Many guys seemed very pooped.

It is always tough when the opponent is able to switch in and out so much. We don’t have that luxury to do that as much. The starters just try not to overdo it as much and just save our legs for the next possession.

Limburg played great defense in the first half keeping Fellbach to 31 points. What was the secret of the success on defense?

The difference to playing better defense in the second game against Fellbach was that this time we were able to recognize who the shooters were. We did a better job getting hands up and our guards did a good job getting out on the shooters. Also our communication was a lot better. We also rebounded very well and everyone helped out boxing out.

Limburg led by 8 points in the third quarter. How did the team adrenaline lessen the fatigue factor?

Our adrenaline was huge throughout the game. We knew that the game was winnable, so we put the body aches, fatigue and adrenaline to the side. We had that attitude of let’s go win the game all throughout the game.

Limburg led by 10 points after three quarters. Did a little luck come into play in that Fellbach couldn’t hit the ocean?

Fellbach hit everything in the first game against us. The problem was that we had no hands up in the first game. We bonded better together this game. The communication that we had in this game was the best that we have had this season.

How much did the cherry picking bucket by Mantas Bernatavicius make you laugh?

Mantas is a great player, but at the same time also wants to have fun. When he is able to create for others, it makes everything more enjoyable. Plus if you see a seven footer like him dive for the ball, it instantly boosts your confidence. If he can do it then anybody can. We feed his energy.

Fellbach made a run in the fourth as Scooter Gillete gave Fellbach the 59-57 advantage with 57 seconds to play. What was key for the guests coming back?

Fatigue was a big factor at the end. They knew how to take advantage of it. They began to run on us and did a good job getting Scooter Gillette the ball. They simply executed when they had to to get back into the game.

You hit a big shot with 37 seconds remaining to give Limburg the lead back. Did you anticipate Fellbach switching so much?

I had heard Scooter Gillette talk about switching to his teammates. I just told Justin and Mantas to throw me the ball high against their guards and I will turn and make the shot. Taking the mis matches made it easier for me.

You made a game saving block at the end. Was that block bigger than all the shots that you made?

Yes that block at the end was bigger than any other shots that I made in the game. Defense always comes first. Our main agenda in the last seconds was to get the stop. We knew that if we could do that that we would get the win.

You have a game left against top team ScanPlus Baskets. How big would a win be in the last game?

We have a week to rest now. We probably will have a few days off to rest. I think that with the home court advantage and rest will be an advantage. I feel that it will be a good game. We will take this game as any other team that we play.

You live in Bad Honnef. Wouldn’t it make sense to return to the Dragons Rhondorf one day?

I had had a good relationship when Alex Doehms was the CEO. All Dragon fans still show me love there. If the opportunity would present itself, I would consider it. But right now I’m very happy in Limburg. The commute is tough, but all have welcomed me with open arms in Limburg. I really like Limburg.

Did you see the sequel to Coming To America? Should they just have left it untouched?

I didn’t see all of it as I fell asleep. They wanted to make another one, but nothing ever tops the first one.

Thanks KJ for the chat.

Luka Dolman(wiha Panthers) Knows His Mom is the Real Career Hero and Real MVP

It is no secret that the real career hero´s of any young athlete are the mothers. Not only in basketball, but in all sports. The mothers are there for the kid for all things. Making that great home made food or getting the correct toys in those early years of life was very essential. But there are so many other very important things that mom´s are there for especially in the ongoing career of a player. A mother of any player could easily boast that they had a second career in their life and that was being a type of chauffeur. Ok so there were of course many dad´s out there that also were able to slip into that role as chauffeur like a Richard Williams of the famous Williams tennis queens and many more, but often the dad was too busy to assume that role as I learned in my early life as my mother had the job of driving me from ice hockey rink to ice hockey rink in Boston. I´m sure it also wasn´t any different with the famous Limburg family Stalbohm´s as son Justin was playing for Eintracht Frankfurt. It was either dad Danny or mom Heidrun that drove their son to Frankfurt on the weekends that took about a total of two hours. Having that love from the mother is something that so many players have experienced in their life times and it wasn´t any different for Canadian/German Luka Dolman. Dolman is another one of those special raw diamonds that has non ending talent and will get that chance to display his unique skills this upcoming season in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. What makes this story even more out of the ordinary is that wiha Panthers head coach Alen Velcic believed his instinct as this young player is coming direct from having played high school to the pro´s as he was denied two years of college ball. The talented guard was signed on account of a very good try-out. Instrumental in Dolman even making the try-out was his mother. Once again the mother´s play a huge part in the career´s of young players. “The entire tryout process is quite the story. I was actually in Hamburg the day before the scheduled workout attending a family matter and dealing with a groin strain. That night I got the text that I’ve got a tryout the next day in Schwenningen. All credit to my mom, she drove over 900 kilometers through the night to get me there on time. Dealing with the groin injury my physio estimated that I was operating around 55-60% during the tryout. I just put my head down and grinded, I knew this was my one opportunity and I gave it everything I could. I think my versatility at the point guard position stood out to the club. I bring size, athleticism and skill to the back court. I was able to prove that I’m a versatile defender, can play make for my teammates and am a 3 level scorer”, warned Luka Dolman. The young Canadian has signed on the dotted line in Schwenningen and now is ready to go to war every night for head coach Alen Velcic.

            Luka Dolman who last watched the classic Quentin Tarantino flick Pulp Fiction was born on February 11, 2001 in Vancouver, British Columbia. His mother hails from Bad Segeberg, a town near Hamburg while his grand father still lives in Germany today and he also has relatives near the cities Berlin and Lubeck. He began his basketball career at Kitsilano high school where he averaged more than 30,0ppg. He also learned his basketball trade at the Drive basketball academy in Richmond and was the fourth best point guard in British Columbia. His time there had a huge impact in his early basketball grooming. “I have nothing but love for the coaches and players at Drive Basketball. Coach Pasha, Karn and Lucian treated me like family during my 6 years there and I have them to thank for shaping me into the player I am today. Drive is one of the top club programs in Canada and they provide the opportunity to play the best competition in North America. Every summer Drive travels to various tournaments across the United States to play the best competition possible. Playing against top American talent every year throughout my high school career has helped prepare me for the next level. Drive has played a huge part in my development as an athlete and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them”, warned Luka Dolman. Basketball in Canada has grown profusely in the last 10 years as just seeing how many Canadians play in the NBA. But also the NBL league and new CEBL league in Canada have made strides in the last years as well as the development of young players. Dolman may never have played a college game in Canada, but he mixed it up with young talent the last years. “Canadian Universities produce a ton of high level pros and I’m grateful to have been able to compete against many of them. Tevaun Kokko was the starting Point Guard for Ryerson last year and is now playing in Finland. Being able to practice with him and pick his brain on how he sees the game has helped my game tremendously. JV Mukama also from Ryerson is an overseas pro who spent time in the G-league. Playing against him along with Tanor Ngom (Ryerson player who transferred to Floridia State) in a 2019 Ryerson workout opened my eyes to the level of competition that Canada university hoops has. I’m grateful to have played alongside and against these guys”, stressed Luka Dolman.  

            One of the worst things about how COVID-19 has affected sports has been in the youth sector. Last season not only in basketball, but in so many other youth sector´s in German sports, the seasons were just cancelled. Having this stoppage of competition in a young player´s development is brutal. Luka Dolman was slated to play at Ryerson, but never did. He was first sidelined in 2019-2020 because of an annoying injury and last season the Canadian college basketball league was cancelled because of COVID-19. Two years of no real game competition stumped his development as did it for so many other young athletes. But like so many other guys that were in the same boat like him, all you could do was have a positive attitude and search for the positives that one had to take out of the hard situation. “Covid has been very tough but I have viewed it as a growing opportunity. Not playing in any games I have had the chance to step back and really evaluate myself as a player. I’ve worked hard on my weaknesses and turned them into my strengths. Hands down the biggest challenge was not being able to play in games and the lack of gym availability. For the majority of 2020 many gyms in my area were closed so we had to get creative in our workouts. Whether it be hill or beach workouts, I was able to find a way to stay in playing condition. Playing basketball primarily outside for the majority of 2020 has definitely been a challenge and an adjustment but at the end of the day I’m thankful I was able to continue getting better and work on my game”, said Luka Dolman.  He also has done the best job possible of seeing the greater picture of COVID-19 and grown off the court through the harsh pandemic. “The pandemic has definitely helped me realize the importance of family and how not to take anything for granted. It has really put life in perspective and proved that life is short. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and “play every game like it’s my last”, warned Luka Dolman. He also knows that his game and standing today as a player could be very different had COVID-19 not interfered with everybody´s business, but he knows that he has to focus on what is now and not on what could have been. “I try very hard not to dwell on the “what ifs” in my life but of course like any human would those thoughts do creep into my mind occasionally. However I actually think I’ve become a better and smarter player overall during these 2 years. I have watched more film than ever before and have a completely new understanding and perspective of the game. My IQ is at an all time high. It’s also allowed me to discover different weaknesses in my body that I would otherwise not have discovered. I believe I am more athletic than I ever have been and I am confident that my game is better than it would have been if I had played these past 2 seasons”, expressed Luka Dolman.

            Now the 20 year old 194cm guard who has Jordan, Lebron, Magic and Steph Curry on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is preparing for his new job with the wiha Panthers. He already knows super much about his new home Germany as his mother is German. She made sure from a young age that he would be educated well on the country. He has researched German basketball more in the last months and came to the realization that the domestic competition is on par or greater than any other competition in Europe. He still has a couple months more to enjoy the summer in Canada as well as keep grinding in the gym to get better, but overal the excitement level to finally start his rookie season is massive. “I’m definitely excited, this is a huge opportunity for me and my family. It has been a dream of mine to play for my mother´s home country since I began playing basketball. it’s an incredible feeling seeing this dream come to fruition. Can’t wait to meet the guys and start competing for a championship”, warned Luka Dolman. The biggest reason why he decided to begin his rookie season with the wiha Panthers was the vision of head coach Alen Velcic. “The biggest thing for me is his passion for the game. I know that I’m going to be able to match his competitiveness and drive to win on a daily basis, a recipe I believe is essential on championship teams. Leading up to the tryout I watched a lot of Panthers games, just to get a sense and understanding of his coaching style and what he wants out of his players. As a player I know he’s going to push me to be the best player and teammate that I can be. At the end of the day we both have the same goal in mind and I’m going to go to war for him on a nightly basis”, warned Luka Dolman.  The guy is young and you would think that he may feel some pressure, but he has that type of mind set as Boris Becker had when he was 17 and mowed down the competition at Wimbledon and had no idea what the word pressure meant. “I don’t feel any pressure, I’m not sure I actually believe in pressure. I believe in hard work and perfecting your craft. I’m the most happy when I’m out there competing with my teammates, so I don’t feel any pressure coming in. At the end of the day this is basketball, this is my passion and this is what I do best. I’m going to trust the work I’ve put in over the past 2 years to get back to playing and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to show what I’m capable of. The only goal I have as a rookie is to bring a Pro A championship to the city of Schwenningen”, stressed Luka Dolman.

            So what type of player will German basketball fans witness with Luka Dolman who sees Lebron James as the greatest of all-time as he does everything better than Michael Jordan did against better competition? He is quick to point out that his game would best be compared to American player Cade Cunningham who is the projected 2021 #1 NBA draft pick. Dolman is an athletic big guard with the gigantic advantage of being able to look over the defense which allows him to make plays for his teammates in ways other guards can´t. He also shoots the ball very well and knows how to play above the rim. On defense, he is interchangeable at the positions 1-2 and is able to apply this special nasty pressure on defense. But that isn´t everything that one will see on the offensive end as he will bring so much more to the table in 2021-2022. “I think my biggest strength is my competitiveness and drive to win basketball games. I play with a high IQ and am unselfish. From a physical standpoint I think my biggest strength is my athleticism and what it allows me to do. With the ball in my hands my ability to create opportunities for my teammates is my biggest strength. Being taller and longer than most point guards I can see over defenses and make passes and reads other people can’t make. Defenders have to give me space which opens up opportunities from the perimeter. I´m a quick and long defender which makes me very versatile on the defensive end being able to guard 1-3”, added Luka Dolman. Not only on the offensive end does he want to be an impact player in the Pro A, but also make a splash on the defensive end. “I pride myself on the defensive end. With my size and athleticism my defense is one of my greatest strengths. Like I said I am a very versatile defender that can defend 1 through 3. I’m incredibly competitive on the defensive end and I take matchups personally. I give consistent effort and my only goal is to shut my opponent down”, commented Luka Dolman. Currently he is in Vancouver and with COVID cases declining and more gyms opening up, he will be a gym rat in the next months so when it is time to go to Schwenningen, he will be fully prepared to battle opponents. “I’m going to continue watching film and gain a better understanding of the European game so it won’t be as much as an adjustment when I start playing. I know already a lot of actions come out of the pick and roll so I’m going to incorporate that in a lot of my workouts”, warned Luka Dolman. The young Canadian/German has a very good head on his shoulder and when he is in Schwenningen in the dog days of summer in August, he won´t ever forget where he came from and how significant his family have been in his career especially his mother. “My mom and dad have been there from the beginning for me. From day 1 driving me to AAU tournaments and supporting me when I’d have a bad game, my parents have really been the backbone of my career so far. With the specific situation in Germany my mom was in a tough mental state with the family situation going on in Hamburg, I’m really not sure how she drove through the night across the country to get me there on time for my tryout. No other words than super human. I can’t thank her and my dad enough, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. As Kevin Durant said, “she’s the real MVP”, smiled Luka Dolman. If the wiha Panther´s bus driver ever is sick or if the club needs a quick replacement on a long and tedious 937 kilometer road trip to Rostock, then Luka Dolman knows that his mom would probably jump in in an instant. The question will be if she can drive a bus. But then again she can do anything, because she is the real MVP.

Jaleen Smith Knows That The MHP Riesen Have To Have An Aggressive Attitude And Be Ready To Fight Against FC Bayern Munich To Live Another Day

Jaleen Smith is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fourth professional season and second with the MHP Riesen currently averaging 15,7ppg, 5,2rpg, 5,5apg and 1,8spg. Last season he played 28 games averaging 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8%. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to eurobasket after the tough 81-78 loss in game 3 against FC Bayern Munich.

Thanks Jaleen for talking to You experienced a tough 81-78 loss in game three against FC Bayern Munich. Now you have your backs to the wall down 2-1. Is it a strange feeling being in a situation like this that you have never seen this season?

This is a new situation for us at the moment but I feel like well come out like we did against Bamberg with our backs against the wall and come out and hoop.

It was a very tight first half. What do you feel was missing for the Riesen to get over the hump and get the better lead in the first half?

We just missed the extra run we needed to close out that first half. You look at the game and we had them but we never took advantage that much.

The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg played tough in the third quarter, but allowed FC Bayern Munich to get away. Wade Baldwin and Vladimir Lucic were really thorns in your side. How instrumental was their overall offense on this night?

The third quarter was the difference in the game and they played super aggressive and we wasn’t ready for it. They just couldn’t miss a shot and they got anything they wanted.

In the fourth quarter FC Bayern Munich was able to break away and lead by as much as 13 points. What was crucial for them getting over the hump and getting away?

Their aggressive difference changed the game for them. Plus the ability to make shots was the turning point in the game.

The MHP Riesen never gave up. As you kept grinding and getting close it was Vladimir Lucic who hit big shot after big shot. If you’re the easyCredit BBL MVP then isn’t Lucic the MVP of FC Bayern Munich?

Anytime they need a basket they would go to him and he delivers every time for them.

The MHP Riesen never gave up. The fight the club gave was incredible. How key is this mentality as you prepare for game four in Munich?

We just have to come out with an aggressive attitude and be ready to fight another game to live another day.

Talk about the importance of American Jonah Radebaugh? This guy has made incredible strides in the playoffs.

He has been amazing during the playoffs. Showing he can defend multiple positions and his ability to knock down shots. The way he found his confidence is great.

You had another incredible game of 29/8/7, but 5 turnovers. Does the fact that you have the ball in your hands so much help sooth the 5 turnovers? There is no player that has the ball in their hands as much.

That comes with the responsibility but some of my turnovers were careless which I didn’t like for myself I defiantly have to clean that up to give us a chance to win.

How vital is it for you to find the right mentality so you can close out the series in consistent fashion?

We just have to play our game and fight every possession through out the game and we will have a shot at winning it.

How do you prepare on an off day in Munich? Do you get up more shots in practice or do you watch extra film on Munich players

I do more recovery stuff because of the short window we have between games. I try to get my body to 100% as much as possible to be ready for the next game. I watch film a little more to learn players tendencies and what they like to do also.

The Washington Wizards lost in the playoffs. Will this loss put another dent in Russell Westbrook’s resume for putting up insane stats but not getting his team to win?

Just for that Washington team to get to the playoffs is crazy. They way he puts up stats was one of the reasons they made the playoffs but the stats don’t matter in playoffs if you don’t win. I don’t think this will dent his career moving forward.

How high can one place a Nikola Jocic for his effort with the Denver Nuggets with a very thin supporting cast. This guy is playing like a MVP

. In my Opinion, he is the MVP of the league. We does a little bit of everything. I also see his team making it into the NBA Finals out of the Western Conference.

What’s wrong with the Lakers. They are down 3-2. Will there be discussions again about Lebron James with the haters should they bow out?

Of course there will be a discussion about it. We always talk about it with LeBron but the way his career has gone its just another bump in the road for him.

Thanks Jaleen for the chat.

Eric Kibi Experienced COVID From All Angles Including a Touch of Tom Hanks And The Terminal In Argentina

It is no secret that after a long flight and basketball players can attest to that, the greatest feeling is to be finally at home, set foot back on American soil and jump into the arms of your loved ones. But before landing from a long flight, the excitement seems to grow to finally be home especially when your about to land, but that feeling of touchdown with that back plane wheel touching the ground and the clapping of the passengers seems to sometimes take forever to happen with minutes and minutes dragging on during the approach. That happens when the approach to land takes long especially when your flying to New York that currently has 18 plus million or Mexico City that currently has 21 million plus inhabitants. I wonder what that approach must feel like when your about to land in Tokyo that currently has 37 million plus people running around. In the top 13 cities in the world, I have had the fortune to land at three of them with New York City, Sao Paulo, Brazil that currently has 21 million plus and Buenos Aires, Argentina that has 14 million plus people living there. I can remember the incredible approach to Buenos Aires many times with my 17 visits to the country that brought the football world Maradona and Messi. With the Jumbo jet coming in from the north with the Rio De La Plata river on the left and then seeing the breath-taking unending city line of Buenos Aires as you pass several land marks like the famous River Plate stadium and see the Obelisk statue that stands in the 9 de Julion Avenue that runs three kilometers through the city that at times seems like a Daytona 500 race track with all the pesky black taxi’s trying to squirm between the unending amount of buses. The buildings of Buenos Aires seem unending as you pass the city that never ends. The buildings and houses are present for at least 20 kilometers until the plane finally touches down at Ezeiza international airport which is 31 kilometers from the city. The taxi drive from the airport to Buenos Aires sometimes seems as long as the 12 hour flight from Germany when annoying traffic is present. It is a total event just reaching Buenos Aires, but what about having to live at an airport. Everyone who observed Tom Hanks in the Terminal knows what that is like and so does professional globe trotting player Eric Kibi (198-F-90, college: ACU)i who lived at Ezeiza airport recently during COVID. During the 2019-2020 season, he came to Argentina and played for 2 clubs called Libertad Sunchales (Argentina-La Liga) and BHY Tiro Federal y Deportivo Morteros (Argentina-La Liga) and the COVID struck in March 2020. ‘I got to know Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires pretty well. I spent two nights in the airport after my flight home was cancelled. I arrived at the airport around 3pm for my 9pm flight back to Canada and unfortunately at around 8pm the president of Argentina shut the countries borders so my flight was cancelled and the border was closed for the next two weeks. Initially they didn’t let foreigners leave the airport so that’s why I spent the 2 nights in the airport until I was able to get to a hotel. I walked around, did a lot of reading, but couldn’t go outside and there weren’t many restaurants open. The Canadian embassy finally sent a repatriation flight two weeks later’, remembered Eric Kibi. COVID hasn’t been easy for anyone as it has brought the world apart and for Kibi he has seen a lot in the last year and not only had to live with COVID in Argentina, but also this season in Holland. COVID has been a very challenging time for everyone on and off the court and it is always interesting to hear the different responses from players overseas how the whole situation has made them stronger as men. ‘My self-discipline was always good but this time it was even much more needed, to discipline yourself to keep getting better or keeping your cardio without any gym access for 3-4 months can be hard but very rewarding’, stressed Eric Kibi. He definitely experienced COVID from all angles including a touch of Tom Hanks and the Terminal.

A typical descent to Ezeiza airport coming from the north over Buenos Aires with the famous football stadium of River Plate.

The Congo national player who feels that Boston Celtic guard Jayson Tatum is ready to take over for the next generation after Durant, Curry and Harden decline definitely has a better feeling for scraping that tough rebound off the glass then predicting how many interviews I have done with him as he thought 7 or 8, but it actually has been 13 since 2014. We still have a way to go to catch the 22 interviews I have done with Mr Euroleague Kyle Hines. ‘It would be great to catch him or even have a career even remotely close to his, but he is a legend’, warned Eric Kibi. As COVID hit the world, he was at the tail end of the 2019-2020 season that saw him ball with Libertad Sunchales (Argentina-La Liga) playing 15 Argentinian La Liga games averaging 14.5ppg, 10.1rpg, 2FGP: 47.8%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 53.0% and then moved to BHY Tiro Federal y Deportivo Morteros (Argentina-La Liga Argentina) playing 15 games averaging 14.5ppg, 10.1rpg, 2FGP: 47.8%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 53.0%. He was able to concentrate on his game before COVID came and was able to make strides in his game. ‘Argentina was my first South American experience so it was definitely an eye opener. The Argentinian game is very similar to the Spanish game, very high IQ players there. I can for sure say my IQ for the game improved’, expressed Eric Kibi. In Argentina he scored in double figures in 15 games including 29 points against Obera TC, 27 points and 16 boards against Echague and 23 points and 15 rebounds against Union Santa Fe. During the summer 2020 the 30 year old 198cm forward who believes that despite not wining a NBA title yet, Chris Paul is an all-time top 5 point guard continued to play ball in Canada with the Ottawa Blackjacks (Canada-CEBL) playing 6 games averaging 6.3ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 50.0%, FT: 57.1%

Kibi who hails from Quebec City, Canada has played 9 professional seasons. After getting a good taste of what basketball is like in the States playing at Jacksonville College (NJCAA), University of Arkansas at Little Rock (NCAA) and Abilene Christian University (NCAA2), he embarked on a professional career that has brought him to countries like Germany, Montenegro, Denmark, Spain, France, Slovakia, Argentina and last season Holland. He played with The Hague Royals (Holland-DBL) in 2020-2021. It was an eye opening season for him and his team as they raised many eyebrows in the Dutch first division. ‘We lost a few close games by one or two points that cost us a playoff spot which was disappointing, but this group of guys had so much grit and character and kept battling. We made it hell for the big teams when they came to play us at home. We did finish strong though and won 5 of the last 7, I also think finishing 9th and one place outside of playoffs is a good accomplishment for this first year club’, stressed Eric Kibi. He has seen many leagues around the world and the Dutch league belonged to one of the best he has played in as a professional. ‘ I would say Argentina’s top league was a better league overall but the top 4 teams in this league, more or less have played euro cup in recent seasons (Leiden, den Bosch, Groningen and Zwolle) are all tough and high level European teams’, stated Eric Kibi. He had many Dutch teammates where he had a big impact on, but also on American Casey Lopez who had a similar route like him playing at Junior College in the States. ‘Casey was like my little brother. I see a lot of myself in him from when I was 22. He worked very hard and asked a lot of questions. His work ethic was already there so I didn’t have to do anything there. All I did was show him how to approach the game as a pro’, added Eric Kibi.

The forward who loves the style of the NBA’s all-time triple double leader Russell Westbrook and believes that with his work rate and mentality could lead a team in Europe to success played 20 games for the Hague Royals averaging 13.0ppg, 10.3 rpg , 1.2apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 16.7%, FT: 51.2%. Like most players that have a chip on their shoulders, he wasn’t 100% content with it. ‘ As far as individually I am satisfied but I still think I could of played a bit more consistently and especially shot the ball better. I shot it well last season from 3 but this season wasn’t great so I will keep working’, warned Eric Kibi. He has had some monster seasons as a professional as he had massive seasons in Germany early in his career for Pinneberg and Rendsburg averaging 19/9 and 20/15, but that was in the fourth division. In Holland he proved that not only could he have a big season, but that he could do it in a first division. ‘Statistically this was my best season as far as competition and players. But not only just stats but I think I showed that I can guard every position on the court, I guarded Euro Cup point guards this season but I also guarded the league MVP, Center so I think statistically yes but I think coach really allowed be to show my full versatility’, remembered Eric Kibi. He has always been an incredible rebounder at 198cm and has demonstrated it over and over in different leagues. He won the rebounding crown in Holland and met his goal. ‘This was a goal that I set for myself in the beginning of the season so I am happy I achieved it. Not only that but rebounding was a big need on our team because we were a small team, so these weren’t empty stats, It was my job to rebound well or else we didn’t have a good chance to win’, said Eric Kibi. He scored in double figures in 15 games and registered 8 double doubles. He had his two best rebounding games back to back against Almere and Amsterdam producing 25/17 and 11/18 stats. After suffering some pain in France two seasons ago, he came back strong in Holland and his point guard experience helped his game. ‘I played point guard in France NM1 and this definitely helped my game to become more versatile, but it was also difficult so the last two years mainly I think the setbacks I had in France gave me a boost and a wake up call. So if anything it made me work harder and increased my confidence’, expressed Eric Kibi.

The forward who doesn’t believe that Golden State Warrior Draymond Green is the best defender all-time as he sees 10 guys before him had the chance to continue his basketball career after Holland in Morocco, but wasn’t able to. ‘I had originally signed with As De Sale about one month ago for the NBA Basketball African League. I already had my ticket and was set to leave but there were some administrative problems with my passport and FIBA so I was not able to join them in Kigali, Rwanda for the competition. It is disappointing as I was very excited to play on this stage but everything happens for a reason’, commented Eric Kibi. This summer he will continue to work hard in the lab on his shot and add counter moves when his main moves get taken away. He has big plans for the summer and next season and who knows perhaps one will see him balling in Germany again. ‘This summer there is the 2021 Afrobasket in Rwanda. I played in the last edition in 2017 and also won the AfroCan with my national team in 2019. Unfortunately I wasn’t called up for any of the qualifying windows which was disappointing but I hope to get the call in the summer, I think I’ve earned it. Congo is always in my heart regardless. As far as next season, the BBL has always been a goal of mine like I’ve said in the past after starting in the Regionalliga in 2012 but I want to make the best decision for my career that is going to continue to help me grow as a basketball player and reach my goals’, warned Eric Kibi. Besides working on his game the versatile player who didn’t like the Coming To American sequel and feels that they should of left it alone will also continue to follow some of his friends like Deandre Lansdowne of Strasburg who reached the Basketball Champions League Final 8 and is battling for the Pro A title in France. ‘ Me and Dee are high school friends and we still talk often. He has helped me a lot in the last two years with my nutrition and intermittent fasting, as I’ve changed my diet as I’ve gotten older. I’m proud of his success, He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve met. His Euroleague call will come soon but for now he’s doing great things as the captain of a basketball champions league team in the Final 8’, added Eric Kibi. It will be interesting to observe where his path will go next season. He definitely has seen many airports in his career. But if he will sit through ‘The Terminal’ with Tom Hanks is another story. He probably doesn’t need to be reminded about airports. He will see plenty more in his basketball career. But the next one he definitely knows as he will play with the Ottawa Blackjacks (Canada-CEBL) again this summer.

Tibor Pleiss Conquered Adversary And The Euroleague Title Having His Greatest Moment In His Life

      Even though I wasn´t going to be in the stands for the 2021 Euroleague final 4 in Cologne, Germany, I was still really excited for the weekend, because of two aspects. One I would be watching it on TV and two, I was going to attempt another autograph hunt something that carried me through my childhood in Boston and even accompanied me through adulthood the last years when I was in Boston. Before I could even venture to Cologne to see the top basketball players in Europe, I needed to have the top insider information. There are many hotels in Cologne, but obviously one could have narrowed it done to a few knowing that it would have been somewhere near the Lanxess arena. I had no idea if the four teams would all live in separate hotels or if there was one team hotel. Luckly for me I remembered that I knew someone from one of the clubs that could help me out. Within two minutes, I had gathered all the information I needed from my special contact person. Most importantly, I had found out that there was one team hotel and second probably even more vital was how the security was. My buddy reassured me that security wasn´t difficult. That last line paved my way to going to Cologne. I had decided it would make most sense to go on Sunday. I had people on all four teams that I knew, but I was more focused on seeing teams like FC Barcelona and Efes Pilsen. I had seen CSKA Moscow before and seen guys like Mike James, Darrun Hillard, Joel Bolomboy and Johannes Voigtmann, plus I had covered Will Clyburn way back in the day when he played his first season in Germany with ratiopharm Ulm when he was as far away from the Euroleague at that time as the Boston Celtics are from escaping the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs. I also could have abstained from seeing AX Armani Exchange Milano. Granted my favorite interview buddy Kyle Hines was on the team, but I had seen him recently and had covered guys like Malcolm Delaney and Shavon Shields in Germany. Two guys I would have liked to have seen would have been ex NBA players Sergio Rodriguez and Jeremy Evans. So there I was on Friday evening watching the semi finals. So all I had to hope for was for Barcelona and Efes Pilsen to win, but deep in my heart I was aiming for a Milan-Moscow final, but it would happen totally different.

                One thing was for sure, the two semi-final games on Friday night weren´t short for real excitement. The games were tight and real nail bitters. One has to wonder how incredible the atmosphere would have been had fans been allowed to be at the game. In the first semi-final, CSKA Moscow gave a real hard fight against Efes Pilsen, but despite Will Clyburn making tough shot after tough shot, his 26 points couldn´t get the Russian team over the hump and into the final as they lost 89-86. I was really excited to see what Tibor Pleiss would bring to the table, but I waited and waited and waited, but no Tibor Pleiss was inserted for the whole 40 minutes. I was disappointed, but he was a bit battered health wise. The German big man who won three BBL championships with Brose Bamberg had just experienced his first taste of adversary this weekend, but his time would definitely still come. The Turkish squad were led by ex FC Bayern Munich guard Vasilije Micic who dropped 26 points and was unstoppable with his lethal penetration. This was a game that either team could have won, but the dagger clipped the hearts of CSKA Moscow as they went back home wondering if Mike James could have been the difference, who had gone on to bigger and finer things with the Brooklyn Nets. In the second game, it was a real clash between Italian side Milan and FC Barcelona. With crunch-time winding down the game was as exciting as the first semi-final as FC Barcelona and Milan as nobody could get away from the other. With time running out, Milan had the chance to win the game, but Mr Kevin “I can hit any crazy shot you wnat” Punter who had kept Milan close all game long netting 23 points, but couldn´t connect on a three when it counted most with 8 seconds remaining. That allowed FC Barcelona one last chance as it was ex NBA player Corey Higgins who danced down the court on transition like the energizer bunny, but having the game clock always in his head and then dropped a pull up jumper buzzer beater with his friend and ex teammate Kyle Hines ready to secure the rebound for OT, but instead saw nothing but net. In a way I was content as I could see Efes Pilsen and FC Barcelona on Sunday. Of course I could have been even earlier in Cologne and also catch Milan and Moscow before they left the arena for the game for third place, but I had decided to catch the final teams as they left the hotel. You can´t have everything in life and I had my wife and son waiting in the car for me so the big kid could go about his business as see some real basketball hero´s. In the game for third place AX Armani Exchange Milan was able to dispose of CSKA Moscow 83-73. Vladimir Micov and Sergio Rodriguez led the Italian side with 14 points apiece, while the Russian side were led by Tornke Shengelia with 18 points. Even if American Euroleague record holder Kyle Hines who had a typical fill up the stat sheet game with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals was denied his 5th Euroleague title, he was able to rewrite the Euroleague record books. His 3 blocks in the game made him the all-time Euroleague Final 4 shot block leader.

                After an off day on Saturday, Sunday finally arrived. I ventured to Cologne and was at the team hotel at 6:00pm for a 8:30 final start. I was there a bit early, because I wanted to be sure that I didn´t miss anything. With only a 2-3 minute bus ride to the arena, both clubs had set a 6:45 Pm departure from the hotel. There were maybe 10 fans there and all mostly Efes Pilsen fans. In the first 20-25 minutes, it was very quiet as no players excited. Then came a charismatic looking guy out of the hotel that could still have been a player, but it was obvious to see that he had some kind of function with FC Barcelona. He smiled at some fans and then walked towards the bus and stopped for two pictures with people. I wondered who it could be. Then I heard the name Juan Carlos Navarro. And I had my first OMG feeling. I yelled his name and just before he walked on the bus, he turned his head and said “Ill be right back”. Apparently other fans also didn´t recognize him and before he knew it, he had to make the rounds with selfies with many people. I was included in the bunch and also got an autograph. After my wow effect two Efes players came with Turkish big man Sertac Sanli and ex NBA player James Anderson. They were both relaxed and took selfies with the Efes fans and me. It was the calm before the storm and at about 6,35 it began to go bang, bang, bang as the players began exciting out of the hotel. Then came the only disappointment for me on this balmy Sunday night as the breeze made it feel like early summer as a flock of FC Barcelona players departed the hotel. All 8-10 players looked like Lebron James as they were incredibly focused and seemed like they were already on the floor with their game faces on. In that bunch were three players that I really wanted to get selfies of with Corey Higgins, Brandon Davies and Nick Calathes. Even my scream of Corey didn´t get the ex Euroleague champion to flinch as none of those dudes were about to stop for me. I also missed a herd of Efes Pilsen players with Bryant Dunston and Chris Singleton, but that didn´t bother me at all. But I did have some massive fortune after that. With five minutes to go before the buses would go, the last stragglers showed up. One guy everyone was waiting for was Spanish legend Pau Gasol. As always he was a real gentleman and stopped for everyone. I had seen him two years earlier in Boston when he had been with the Milwaukee Bucks and it hadn´t been any different there. Gasol was a little occupied when he signed by two pictures and unfortunately signed with a blue Sharpie on a black portion of my picture so in the end, one can´t really see his signature. I also got a selfie. He had to make the rounds and even signed a Lakers jersey for a fan. The legends continued as Sarunas Jasikevicius next departed who is the FC Barcelona head coach. I really wanted to get a selfie with the ex NBA player who is a legend in Lithuania and won 4 Euroleague titles as a player and won the 2003 European championships. He obliged even if he had an angry look on his face. Now the FC Barcelona bus left the grounds Next came Tibor Pleiss. He saw me and unleased a loud hey. He was happy to see me and asked how I was feeling concerning my cancer. I also got a selfie with him and last but not least came ex NBA player Shane Larkin. He was also a player I wanted to get a selfie with and he was more than happy to. Larkin was the last player to exit the hotel and now the Efes bus was able to leave for the arena

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber meeting Tibor Pleiss again at the 2021 Euroleague Final 4 in Cologne

                I was more than pleased with my 45 minutes of work concerning selfies and now was back on my way home. In a way I was for FC Barcelona to win, because Pau Gasol had never won a Euroleague title before, but my heart was obviously more for Tibor Pleiss who had the opportunity to secure that first Euroleague title in his home town. FC Barcelona controlled the game in the first quarter and led by 7 points. FC Barcelona did a great job on the defensive end making everything difficult for the Turkish side. Tibor Pleiss was on the bench, but his shinning moment would still come. The turning point of the game came in the second quarter as Tibor Pleiss was inserted. FC Barcelona led by 10 points, but the German big man gave the team instant energy on offense with 5 points and key defensive rebounds. On defense he was a solid rock and didn´t let any of the FC Barcelona big men or penetrators to get good looks. He played 8 minutes and had 5 points and 3 boards. He had mastered his adversary from Friday not playing with a great stint from the bench At halftime Efes Pilsen led 38-34 and would never look back. Unfortunately Pleiss had hurt himself again in the second quarter and would never come back into the game. Efes Pilsen led by as much as 11 points in the third quarter. FC Barcelona never gave up and made it real exciting in the fourth quarter dead locking the game a few times in crunch-time, but the Turkish side got massive buckets from their dynamic duo of Shane Larkin and Vasilije Micic. Both possibly NBA bound this summer, combined for 46 points and was FC Barcelona´s nightmare in this evening. In the post game interview Tibor Pleiss was all smiles. His smile was so massive, it could have competed with his ex teammate´s Michael Hakim Jordan when he had been with Cologne in 2009. “ The title for Tibor isn´t only a milestone for him personally, but also for German basketball. It is the climax of a great career. His way should inspire many German players”, stressed medi Bayreuth guard Bastian Doreth. He said more than once that this win was the greatest moment in his life. “It is funny to see that two guys that were the centers1-2 in Bamberg in 2010-2011 were in the Euroleague Final 4. I´m very happy how his path has gone. After his NBA dream was shattered, he continued to develop and found a niche with Efes Pilsen. He deserved the Euroleague title”, stressed former Pleiss coach Steffan Weissenbock. Even if the German big man had to face adversary twice on the weekend including getting hurt again in the second quarter, he was able to conquer adversary and the Euroleague title and garner the greatest moment in his life in his home town. That is something that nobody will ever take away from him.

The Bamberg Series Prepared Jaleen Smith(MHP Riesen) To Find His Game Again Against FC Bayern Munich

Jaleen Smith (193-PG-94, college: UNH) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fourth professional season and second with the MHP Riesen currently averaging 15,7ppg, 5,2rpg, 5,5apg and 1,8spg. Last season he played 28 games averaging 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8%. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with Heidelberg he averaged 7,6ppg, 2,8rpg and 2,9apg. He had a stellar four year career with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to after the 101-98 game one victory over FC Bayern Munich.

Congrats Jaleen on the massive 101-98 win over FC Bayern Munich. One would have thought that the MHP Riesen might be tired after having beaten Bamberg 48 hours earlier, but it seemed like FC Bayern Munich was tired. Could the long Euroleague season be their achilles heel now?

Yes they played maybe 60-70 games through the year so they could be tired from the long season they had.

You guys had an explosive first quarter netting 29 points. How key was the few minutes where you let it rain three’s. Hulls, Polas and Brown scored. Do you feel like this phase surprised FC Bayern Munich?

Yeah we played really good offense and got a lot of open looks from pick n rolls which plays to our strengths.

FC Bayern Munich scored 30 points in the second quarter. When they get going, they are able to really pour on the points. Why was it so difficult to make the proper adjustments and then to execute well on the defensive end?

We had a couple of slip ups on defense. We didn’t communicate and a team like Munich they’ll make you pay for those mistakes.

FC Bayern Munich never gave up and made it a real nail bitter at the end cutting your lead to 100-98. How key was John Patrick in helping the club keep their composure in the last seconds?

We knew we needed at stop in the end and we got it. We’ve had games like that through out the year that helped us in that moment.

You made a massive three at the end. How good did it feel making that clutch shot again? How big was your desire to make that type of shot again?

Making a shot like that was big but I’m just glad we got the win in the end. I’m just ready for the moment at all times you never know when you’ll have to step up and make shots like that.

We lauded Jamel Mclean in the last interview. He showed all his class shooting 10/13 and 83%. What did you learn about his game once again?

When he gets to his fadeaway it’s impossible to stop. He was on fire.

How key was it forcing Wade Baldwin to 6 turnovers? Despite him scoring 14 points were you content with how the club followed the scouting plan on him?

Yes I like how we followed our game plan through the game we just played our basketball and nobody likes to play against our defense.

You had another very good game with 18/4/3/2 stats and shot 40% from outside. What do you believe did you capture again in your game that you didn’t have in the last games against Bamberg?

The Bamberg series really prepared me for these next couple of games because in that series I was denied almost every play and against Munich they allowed me to get the ball so I’m allowed more to create for myself or for others. Just thinking about the previous just helped me grow more as a player.

Being able to battle against a club like FC Bayern Munich has to be so special for you. If someone had told you your rookie year in Heidelberg that you would be the MVP of the easyCredit BBL what would you have thought?

I would’ve asked them what is the BBL haha. I wouldn’t believe them if they told me. I would’ve thought they were crazy. I always want to progress over my career and I think I’m doing ok with the steps I’m making right now.

What adjustments will the team have to make for game 2? Munich shot way too many three’s and outrebounded you.

We definitely have to outrebound them next game and limit their3 pt shots for sure. They started getting hot towards the end of the game as you seen

Is the only way the Boston Celtics can get by the Brooklyn Nets if Jayson Tatum continues to be a superman?

I can see it but it’ll be tough next game because Brooklyn will key even more on him then they already do.

Who will win the Euroleague final tonight Efes of Turkey or FC Barcelona? Do you have any preferences?

I think Efes will win their backcourt is the best in Europe by far.

Thanks Jaleen for the chat.

Jaleen Smith And The MHP Riesen Will Have That When The Tough Get Going The Going Gets Tough Mentality In The FC Bayern Munich Series

Jaleen Smith (193-PG-94, college: UNH) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fourth professional season and second with the MHP Riesen currently averaging 15,7ppg, 5,2rpg, 5,5apg and 1,8spg. Last season he played 28 games averaging 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8%. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with Heidelberg he averaged 7,6ppg, 2,8rpg and 2,9apg. He had a stellar four year career with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to after the MHP Riesen game 5 95-73 win over Brose Bamberg

Congrats on the massive 95-73 victory over Brose Bamberg. How good does it feel winning again after seeing adversary twice?

It felt great. The way we played in game 5 shows the kind of character that we have. When the tough get going the going gets tough. We played tough and got back to playing Ludwigsburg basketball.

How tough was that bus ride home after game four. On what things did you think about first about doing better in game 5?

I thought about coming back more focused in game five and make an impression on defense.

Losing two games in a row is something that the club hadn’t witnessed before this season. What do you believe did the team learn from the two Bamberg loss that would help them come out strong in the do or die game?

We learned that we had to be ready to play. A team like Bamberg had nothing to lose. We knew that we had to get that mentality again to get stops to win games.

After losing two games in a row something that never happened this season, did you sense a different mentality with the team as you stepped on the floor for the tip in game 5?

We came into game five more locked in and be more focused on defense than on offense. We knew that if we got back to defending the way we know how we would be able to get out running where we are at our best.

It was like night and day between game four and game five. The MHP Riesen found back to their typical game by getting into their offense via the defense. Bamberg did a good job with the match ups and physicality. Why didn’t it work out at all in game five?

I think key in game five was that Bamberg wasn’t able to bring the kind of physicality that they had had in game three and game four. We used so much energy in game five that they were drained.

The MHP Riesen did a good job really not allowing Bamberg to get over the hump once. You had 8 players that had 8 offensive rebounds. How proud are you of the team the way their heart and desire came together in a do or die game?

It was great getting that kind of support. We were tough and knew that we could of closed out the series earlier had we been more focused.

How much fun is it playing with Jamel Mclean? Should he get a patent on his fade away jumper?

Yes I think so. At the start I kept wondering why he always used that shot, but now I know that it works best for him. That is his thing.

How focused were you coming into the game? You had had a tough 2/16 game against Crailsheim, but also couldn’t find the hoop in game 4 going 2/13. I thought you may have been a bit mentally fatigued in game four?

Yes I have to credit Bamberg for playing good defense on me. I didn’t get easy looks and they where all over me full court. They did a good job making it tough for me to get the ball and took me out of the game. I have to give credit to my teammates for stepping up and making shots.

How did you personally go into the game preparation mentally? On what things are you most focused on with your game after a bad shooting game?

I don’t think about getting more shots, but on being locked in on defense. No matter what happens on offense, play hard on defense and get my guys involved. Picking and choosing when to go or find my teammates is also important.

You didn’t have a great shooting game, but made up for it in other areas with rebounding and playmaking. How vital is it having a deep roster where you don’t have to always worry about making that big shot on every other play?

It is a relief when you know your 8-9 guys deep that can make plays and you never know which guy will go off on any given night. It is fun and relaxing to know that I don’t always have to make that shot.

The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg next clash against FC Bayern Munich. You split the season series 1-1. What kind of series can we await?

I believe the series against Munich will be even more physical than against Bamberg. They are bigger, but I feel we will be ok if we can use our quickness to our advantage. We are really looking forward to meeting them.

Ludwigsburg have a huge winning streak at home. Will that record still be alive come game 3?

It is tough, but I honestly believe that we will still be undefeated at home. We play really well at home. I feel that we are more comfortable at home than on the road even without fans. Having our families watching us relaxes us.

You had two tough games against FC Bayern Munich. How psyched are you to be going up against ex NBA player wade Baldwin?

If I want to reach the Euroleague or NBA, I have to be able to go up against guys like that. But for me it isn’t about my game, but more the Lubo/Munich match up. I’m more focused on that then individual match ups.

What kind of series can wea wait between Alba Berlin and ratiopharm Ulm. Ulm are a real final dark horse team. Can Ulm make the upset?

I think Ulm could make an upset. Ulm played so well against Oldenburg. Troy Caupain has been playing like a maniac. If he keeps playing like that I can see it happening.

Do you remember German player Kay Bruhnke of medi Bayreuth? He said in the current BIG magazine that if he could have the skill set of one player for a day it would be you. How does that make you feel when a German kid says that about you?

That is crazy. Coming from the States, I have my own idols, but being in Germany and hearing a German kid say that you wouldn’t think that that would be said. I’m still wondering what my skill set is. It is a blessing and so cool to hear.

What was your reaction to how Kwame Brown described how he was treated by the Washington Wizards and Michael Jordan early in his career?

Many rookies seem to go through something like that in the NBA. Some can handle it while others can’t. He was so passionate about how he was treated. It is very sad to hear.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Money talks.

Thanks Jaleen for the chat.

The Miles Basketball Minute: All Through The Night In Thought With Tibor Pleiss(Anadolu Efes Istanbul)

It had been day 7 for me in the hospital in the toughest stretch during my battle against cancer as I was in the middle of my recovery. The pain at times had been unbearable and I was just trying to cope the best way as I could. The hospital experience was harder than the first two surgeries because my pain disallowed me to continue to do my basketball work. It was Saturday night and I was trying best to pass my time. I was either staring straight ahead at the blank white wall thinking about my son’s current new love for sliding down lamp poles on streets, thank you Fireman Sam, or wondering which professional basketball player I was going to interview next, or somehow scrambling out of my bed which can take minutes due to the pain in my stomach area due to the many cuts and just gaze out my window and look at the Mainz football stadium structure hiding through the trees which was only about one kilometer away or looking up to the Lerchesberg at the ZDF TV head quarters and wondering if I could ever be a spectator in their famous Saturday night Sport Studio show which I have never been at. Here and there, I would also be inspecting my cell phone and checking all the basketball sites and also wondering if Chris Paul could lead the Suns to an upset first round upset over the Los Angeles Lakers and if my Boston Celtics had any chance of upsetting The Brooklyn Nets with their trio of stars. On Social Media, I observed a post of Tibor Pleiss (221-C-89). He posted a pretty picture of his home town Cologne river with the head line ‘On more week’. He was referring to coming back home, because he and his Turkish team Efes was one of four teams that would battle in this weeks Euroleague Final 4. It was early evening and I had no idea that Tibor Pleiss would be accompanying me all through the night in thought.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 18 year old Tibor Pleiss in Frankfurt, Germany in December 2007

I had adopted a very disciplined sleeping time of about 10,30 since being in the hospital, because usually I do go to sleep a few hours later due to my basketball work and interviews that at times happen with players. After I had received my sleeping pain shot and sleeping pill and had my eye patches over both eyes, I began my quest for getting a good night sleep. While trying to fall asleep, I thought about Tibor and his career. I thought why not trying to do an interview with him before the Euroleague Final 4. I also thought hmmm could be a bit difficult with the short time window to it beginning on Friday and my stay and recovery in the hospital. I fell asleep and then sometime around 4am I was up for a short bathroom break. I climbed back into bed like a 90 year old man as slowly as a snail crosses a street not to feel any pain. Before I knew it, I was in basketball heaven. I don’t often have basketball dreams, but suddenly I was in Cologne and in the Laxness arena and there beside me was the 221cm giant Tibor Pleiss. It was as usual a strange dream, because it showed me and Tibor as well as old flashbacks from the 2006 and 2007 BBL Allstar games that were played in the Laxness arena that I had visited and been able to do play by for radio. What I do remember about meeting Tibor again in 2021 in my dream was me trying to get a picture with him. For all who know me know that I love taking pictures with players more than Russell Westbrook does getting a triple double. We know that Russ is the all-time triple double record holder, but everyone who knows me knows that I will do anything for a photo with a player. As so often in my dreams, I always tend to have difficulty getting that much desired picture and it wasn’t any different with Tibor. I remember he being his friendly self, but I don’t remember getting my photo taken with him. I’m sure with my luck in dreams, I didn’t. I was planning to go to Cologne on Sunday and try to catch FC Barcelona leaving their hotel and get my photo with NBA legend Pau Gasol signed. I had met Gasol two years ago in Boston thanks to ex BBL player Charles Lee who I was interviewing in the Milwaukee Bucks hotel and the giant big man was also having lunch in the cafe so I couldn’t resist meeting him. Getting a Gasol autograph, why not get another picture with Tibor Pleiss. My last one dates back to 2007.

I covered Tibor Pleiss in his early days in Germany and also broadcasted many games of his and have very fond memories of him. I remember seeing him play for the first time in 2006-2007. I remember as if it was yesterday as Tibor made a fancy half court shot right before half-time. The game had been in played in Cologne in the tent as people called it and everyone of the 3000 spectators knew already at that time that he was going places. I remember seeing Michael Hakim Jordan in the stands as he was off from his Italian club Cantu and was visiting his old team who he had helped win the BBL title the season before. I wonder what Jordan would have said to the question in 2007 that Tibor Pleiss would be in the NBA in 2015? Pleiss had been touted early as a young teenager by his mentor and discoverer Stephen Baaeck who managed Rhein Energie Cologne. The 1993 Euro winner with Germany compared him to being the next Dirk Nowitzki. Ok that never happened, but it would be difficult to argue that he has been the best and most consistent German center in the last 10 years. My first and only interview came in the 2007-2008 season. It was a pre Christmas game in Frankfurt and Pleiss was out with an injury. In those days, I called games on radio and was always running around the arena like an injured road runner trying to secure a pre game interview and giving Frankfurt an early dose to what it would be like a few years later when the speedy road runner and MVP Dashaun Wood be having his own track meet during games. So I approached the 18 year old German big man on the bench and just asked him almost shyly knowing he would be a German legend one day and he replied generously with a yes. The interview was a normal pre game one concerning his injury and the state of the game.  I had interviewed his teammate Immanuel Mcelroy with a Santa Claus hat, but had taken it off for the Pleiss interview. I looked absolutely ridiculous with my Santa hat on, but hey it was different times and I liked it. I’m sure Tibor will remember the interview if he saw the photo again. A few years later he signed it.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Bamberg legend Wolfgang Heyder doing play by play commentary in Bamberg in 2006

Pleiss would go on to have a very illustrious career since leaving Rhein Energie Cologne in 2009. He went on to play for Brose Bamberg from 2009-2012. Instrumental in his arrival in Bamberg was Bamberg legend and at then time manager Wolfgang Heyder. He did win his first title in Germany with Cologne, but would 5 more with Bamberg including 3 BBL titles in a row. In Bamberg he made massive steps as a player and developed greatly under head coach Chris Fleming who now is an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. ‘It was great playing with Tibor in Bamberg. In 2010 he was still trying to come into his own. I know that this weekend means a lot to him playing in his own home town’, added Mr Euroleague Kyle Hines. He became the BBL’s best German center scoring and grabbing rebounds at ease and being one of the top shot blockers. It between he was also drafted by the New Jersey Nets (NBA,2rd (31). ‘He was very young when he came to Bamberg. He was already very focused and ambitious. He always worked hard and did everything to get better. Bamberg was a very important building block in his career. He had coaches like Arne Woltmann and Steffen Weissenbock who challenged him and he got crucial minutes especially in international games’, stressed ex Brose Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder. He never hurried with the NBA as it would still take some more grooming before he made it. After Bamberg, he made the next step playing in the best country league in Spain ACB club Caja Laboral Vitoria (Spain-Liga-ACB) and also played with FC Barcelona. In 2015 he then finally decided to make the big leap over the Atlantic to the NBA. Even though he put up solid 12/10 stats with the Idaho Stampede in the D-League, his NBA journey ended after 10 games. One had the feeling that he truly never really wanted to be there. Plus his game was better suited to the European game. His most memorable game was probably his 8 points in a loss against the San Antonio Spurs where he shared the floor with legends like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginoboli plus future legend Kawhi Leonard . Despite having a solid NBA Summer League with the Jazz in 2016, he ended his NBA experience heading back to Europe to become that solid Euroleague player where he played with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) and Valencia Basket (ACB) and currently is balling with Anadolu Efes Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). ‘He continued making step after step in the last years. Last season, he didn’t only get physically stronger, but was also a stable three point shooter. He also has played for impressive teams like now with Efes that is a top team’, added Wolfgang Heyder.Currently the 31 year old has 239 Euroleague games on his resume and will be wanting to add on to that with two more this weekend including his first Euroleague title. Since leaving Bamberg, he has only won two more titles with the 2017 Spanish Cup and 2019 Turkish league title. ‘He is a great player and one of the more reliable players for Efes in the last couple years and a big reason for their success and a reason for who they are’, warned Kyle Hines. I definitely won’t have it easy who to root for. I obviously want to support my guy Mr Euroleague Kyle Hines who is going for his fifth with Milan and with whom I have shared a special 22 interview relationship since 2011 as well as his ex team CSKA who I have grown to love, but I also will put some strength in crossing my fingers for Pleiss and his Turkish teammates. But back to my all through the night in thought experience with Tibor Pleiss. One thing is for sure if I ever here the classic 80’s song ‘All Through The Night’ by the iconic Cyndi Lauper, I know I will be instantly reminded by my night with Tibor Pleiss in thought. The only problem one seldom hears that beautiful ballad anymore. But I’m not afraid, because my Tibor night in thought will always have a special meaning, because it happened during my cancer struggle. Also with every player I have had dealings with or thought about in my life, I never have had a whole all through the night in thought experience. Believe me I have thought many hours of Larry Bird since childhood, but never had a dream with him. There you go Tibor. You have beaten my Goat at one thing.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and 2021 Euroleague winner Tibor Pleiss in Cologne, Germany in May 2021