Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex Boston Celtic Jiri Welsch in Frankfurt during the 2016-2017 Champions League season
Jiri Welsch is a 37 year old 199cm guard that is playing his fifth season for CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL). He started his basketball career in 1990 with Holice and then moved to Pardubice in 1994 where he played until 1998. He then played two seasons with Sparta Praha and then two seasons with Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia). In 2002 he was drafted by Philadelphia 76ers (NBA,1rd(16). He played in the NBA from 2002-2006 playinbg a total of 247 NBA games for teams like Golden State, Boston, Cleveland and Milwaukee. He then played with Unicaja Malaga (Spain-ACB) from 2006-2010. He then played with teams Asefa Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-ACB) and Belgacom Spirou (Belgium-D1). He spoke to German Hoops about his basketball career.
Jiri you played in Frankfurt against the Fraport Skyliners this season. I can´t recall that you have ever played a professional game in this arena. What kind of feeling is it for you at age 37 to come to new basketball places?
You know what, I did play in this arena – 15 years ago, season 2001/2002, with Olimpija Ljubljana, Euroleague game. I shared that memory with my younger teammates as soon as we entered the gym. It’s a nice feeling to travel to new countries, new cities and arenas at this stage of my career, it makes it fresher and more interesting.
The club has won 13 titles in a row. That is something that is difficult to believe. How proud are you to be playing for such an elite team like CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL)?
It is a unique streak to win 13 titles in a row and I am very proud to be part of the last 4 championship runs. But it doesn´t happen on its own, there are couple of teams in the Czech league that can challenge and push us. We always have to work for it and earn it, so no matter how dominant it may seem – being a champion at the end of the season is always a rewarding feeling.
Tony Meier is a 26 year od 206cm forward from Wildwood, Missouri playing his third professional season and first with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). He started his basketball career in 2008 with Wisc.-Milwaukee (NCAA) where he played until 2012 playing a total of 118 NCAA games and as a senior played 27 games averaging 11.0ppg, 4.9rpg, FGP: 60.4%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 68.1%. He started his professional basketball career in 2013 with Frankston Blues (Australia-SEABL): 3 games: 18.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 23.1%, FT: 75.0%. He then came to Europe and played the 2013-2014 season with Vitoria, SC / M.Couto Alves Guimaraes (Portugal-LPB) playing 33 games averaging 14.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 82.0%. In the 2014-2015 season he played for Polpharma Starogard Gdanski (Poland-TBL) playing 30 games averaging 14.1ppg, 6.2rpg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 42.3%, FT: 82.0%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Champions League game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Tony thanks for talking to German Hoops. 2017 is here and have you made any basketball new years resolutions?
Thanks so much for talking with me as well. The new year is definitely an exciting time and I was fortunate enough to have a pretty decent holiday break this season but our team had a great start to the year and finished strong right before the break as well so I just hope to keep that momentum going and do everything we can to make it a great full season.
You are playing your first season with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). You are playing for the best basketball team in the Czech Republic. What is the best example that shows you that this is the countries most prestigious team?
I am definitely lucky and grateful to be a part of an organization of this caliber. From the first day I arrived here in Nymburk the management and staff has been nothing short of professional. Walking into the gym and seeing all the championship banners on the wall from the past 13 seasons made me feel proud to be here and it’s just exciting to be a part of. Our fans are great and each and every opponent in the Czech league shows up to play their best game of the season against us, which I take as a compliment and a welcome challenge.
It was seven months ago that American Eugene Lawrence suffered one of his worst BBL defeats of last season in Frankfurt, but at least the American from Brooklyn, New York who only has to travel 21 miles in the summer to get from his home to Englewood, New Jersey to pick the basketball brain of Champions League opponent Jordan Theodore or to trade secrets about best groomed bald heads and could still boast that his 37 point demolition against Bamberg was worse than the 78-48 loss at the hands of Theodore and the Fraport Skyliners last season. In that game, the Fraport Skyliners shared the ball around nicely while the Telekom Baskets Bonn had a cold shooting day and were totally outplayed and worn down by their stellar defense of last season. Lawrence matched the point total of Theodore with nine points, but dished out only one assist as his playmaking was severely flawed by the aggressive Frankfurt defense. Last season, losing was a habit for Lawrence with the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but this season he returned back to an old stomping ground with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) where he won his only two titles in 2012. In the Czech Republic NBL league, he has helped the team register a perfect 10-0 record and their only loss was in Champions league play against Banvit and Theodore last week 75-69. In that loss, Theodore was his usual self-supplying 15 points, six boards and seven assists while Lawrence countered with 11 points. If Lawrence had the audacity to inquire Theodore after the loss some questions about how to beat Frankfurt is unknown, but one thing is for sure, Lawrence returned back to Germany with a massive chip on his shoulder after being swept by the Fraport Skyliners last season and getting creamed in the Fraport arena by 30 big ones. However once again, Lawrence had no fortune in the ex living room of Theodore as a huge second half and comeback by the Fraport Skyliners where they outscored CEZ Nymburk 44-21 helped win their second Champions League game 74-61 moving to 2-2 in group play.
After the loss, Lawrence departed from the locker room sniffling a bit as his cold wasn´t unnoticeable and his mood wasn´t either as he was more than disappointed by how his team collapsed in the second half. “I think that the third quarter killed us. We had too many turnovers and missed layups all game long. On the road, you must always be cautious of everything. We gave Frankfurt the momentum in the third quarter and it carried over until the end. We had a good second quarter, but Frankfurt punched first in the second half and kept coming”, stressed CEZ Nymburk point guard Eugene Lawrence. The Fraport Skyliners totally lost control of the game in the second quarter, but came back in the third quarter turning the game around and finishing strong to earn the win. “Coach Perwas told us at halftime to stay with it. We have worked too hard the last weeks to keep handing games away. Too often we are a good team for 20 minutes, but the other 20 minutes of not being a good team. We were more consistent and wanted it more and it paid off. It was all about better communication on offense and defense and it was the best game of the season where we did that”, explained Fraport Skyliner guard Kwame Vaughn.
Eugene Lawrence is a 30 year old 184cm point guard from Brooklyn, New York that is playing his ninth professional season and second with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). He started his basketball career in 2004 with St.John’s (NCAA) until 2008 playing a total of 114 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 7.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.7apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 34.4%, 3PT: 25.8%, FT: 70.2%: Finished career at St. John’s ranked fourth all-time in assists (520), fourth in three pointers made (122) and fifth in steals (196). He started his professional basketball career in 2008 with BK Casta SPU Nitra (Slovakia-Extraliga) playing 32 games averaging 17.9ppg, 5.3rpg, Assists-1(6.4apg), Steals-1(2.3spg), 2FGP: 59.2%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 71.7%. He then played two seasons with BK Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL) and then moved to CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). He then played with Hoverla Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine-Superleague) for one and a half seasons and then played two and a half seasons with the Telekom Baskets Bonn and last season played 33 games: averaging 8.1ppg, 2.7rpg, Assists-2(7.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 39.7%, 3PT: 27.4%, FT: 78.7%; Eurocup: 10 games: 10.5ppg, 2.3rpg, Assists-3(7.4apg), FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 80.6%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Champions League game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Eugene welcome back to Germany. You had a tough departure from Bonn. If you retired tomorrow could you say out of all the teams I played for as a professional, Bonn was my second home?
It’s great to be back. Last season was rough but I also have so many great memories from Bonn. If I had to retire tomorrow it would be really close but Bonn would be in my top 2 places I’ve played for sure.