Zeon Gray is a 178cm point guard that played at the University of the Fraser Vally (CIS) in Canada before truning professional in 2011. Since turning professional he has played for teams like Santa Monica Jump (WCBL) EOSC Offenbach (Germany-Oberliga), DJK Nieder-Olm (Germany-2.Regionalliga) and currently played preseason for EVL Baskets Limburg (Germany-Regionalliga). He is currently in Germany and spent some time in Bayreuth with his friend Brandon Bowman.
Zeon thanks for talking to German Hoops. A few days ago you jumped into a Regionaliga game in Limburg against Giessen and now you are practicing with Beko BBL team medi bayreuth. Could one say that this is something a guy like you is used to coming form Los Angeles where the fast flowing lifestayle is a bit different than in the countryside of Iowa?
No problem at all Miles.Thank you for the opportunity to talk.I didn’t get to practice with Medi actually.That will be a goal of mine especially if I sign with their second team.
On Sunday, you came 10 minutes late to the test game EVL Limburg vs Giessen 46ers. Talk about your crazy experience just getting tot he gym safely?
That was the craziest day of my life.On the autobahn my front passenger side tire just shot off and rolled away.Very scary experience I’m blessed that I was able to pull off to the side and get assistance.
You scored 16 points in the 90-53 loss to Giessen. How did it feel playing in the game? At times it looked like you had been with the team for forever as you got the young guys into the huddle.
Due to my pre game circumstances,I wasn’t able to warm up properly and focus on the game.With that being said,my point total was low. Me gathering the young guys into huddles was just me being what I am,which is a floor general/leader.It’s very important to keep guys on the same page especially against a well coach team like Giessen.
You hit a ridiculous in your face bank shot in the game against Giessen. Where would you rate that shot in all the crazy shots in your career?
That shot was pretty typical.So I wouldn’t rate it THAT high.I’m a small guy who has to get my shot off in weird ways. I practice that shot.
When you first came on the court, I thought Ron Howard your brother had flown in for the game. Explain your relationship with him and how is nthe game of you both similar or different?
Ron is looked at like an older brother because he was always around to give me advice.Very thankful for him. Our style of play is night and day.He’s a much more reserved player.I tend to push the envelope a bit more.
Was Limburg head coach Danny Stahllbohm interested in your services? Or Is Limburg not an alternative now?
Coach Stahllbohm has always shown interest.You never rule anything out in this business.Right now,my mind is elsewhere but you never know.
Now you are in Bayreuth with your friend Brandon Bowman. What is always the nicest thing about seeing the soft spoken Bowmann again?
Brandon is one of the funniest guys I know.He is constant entertainment.I’m sure some of his infamous YouTube videos will surface if they haven’t already.
There were 3-4 years in a row where he was so close to making the NBA, but was cut in training camp. From your view point what do you think was missing from his game that denied him a shot in the NBA? Perhaps that there are too many athletic guys around?
It definitely wasn’t any skill reason why that didn’t happen.He is an extremely talented player.Bottom line is,the NBA isn’t for everybody.He’s been all around the globe playing this game.Italy,Turkey,Israel etc.So I think it was just a numbers game.
You have seen medi bayreuth practice. What is your overall impression of this team? They have avery skilled scoring point guard Trevon Hughes who can get his teammates involved and the inside with Bowman, Mccrea and Burrell could be one oft he top trios in the league.
They will surprise a lot of teams in the Beko BBL this season with a good core group.
What is your impression of Javon Mccrea? He had a stellar career at Buffalo and played 5 games for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Summer League. Is the potential of this guy unnending or what?
He’s a monster in the paint. His toughness reminds you of Ben Wallace.Without the wild hair of course.He will be a force for years to come.
The medi bayreuth second team could be a perfect situation for you. Are you considering this option?
This is a strong option at this point.I think that could be a beautiful opportunity for me.
If you could sell yourself best as to why any team could help you now how would you do it?
In a few short words,I would simply say it would be tough to find a guard willing to sacrifice so much of himself for the team to grow and win. Anything my coach would ask of me,without any hesitation,I WILL do it.
You are a 178cm point guard. What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
A hidden strength is my leadership.
Where will the journey of the Cavs end this season with Lebron and Kevin Love?
I’m not sure.I’m too busy being a Laker fan.Dark days for the franchise but I’m staying true to the home team.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
I’ve been watching a couple of series online. The Wire and Power.Power surprised me because it was produced by Mogul/Rapper 50 cent.
Thanks Zeon for the chat.
Logan Stutz(Baunach) My Main Focus Will Be On Making Baunach Better Anyway I Can With The Ultimate Goal In Mind Of Winning Each Game
Logan Stutz is a 26 year old 205cm forward from Kanas City that will be starting his fourth professional season and second in Germany with Bike-Cafe Messingschlager Baunach (Germany-ProA).Last season he played for LF Basket (Sweden-Basketligan): 17 games: 13.9ppg; Balkan League: 13 games: 9.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 2FGP: 56.4%, 3FGP: 43.8%, FT: 63.0%, in Dec.’13 moved to Balkan Botevgrad (Bulgaria-NBL): 18 games: 6.7ppg, 4.7rpg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 80.8%, 5.2rpg, Blocks-2(1.8bpg), FGP: 63.5%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 71.9%ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA): 28 games: Score-1(20.1ppg), Reb-5(8.1rpg), 1.2apg, FGP: 64.0%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 74.0%. He started his basketball career at Washburn (NCAA2). In 2011-2012, he was a rookie and played for BG Topstar Leitershofen/Stadtbergen (Germany-ProA, starting five): 11 games: 16.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 68.1%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 76.8%, left in Dec.’11, in Jan.’12 moved to WBC Raiffeisen Wels (Austria-A Bundesliga): 16 games: 4.2ppg, 2.3rpg.He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Logan thanks for talking to German Hoops again. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am now in Germany! I have been here a week and happy to be here. Its has been a great summer. I did some traveling with my wife, saw a lot of family, and my wife and I will be expecting our first child in the spring. So all in all a great summer.
The last time we spoke, you were in Sweden before going to Bulgaria. Please describe your experience last season playing in Sweden and then going to Bulgaria? I guess it was an important learning experience for you?
Sweden is a beautiful country, and I enjoyed the people I met there. Sweden is a fast paced league with some good talet. One thing I will always remember about Sweden is how quickly it got cold and dark. When I moved to Bulgaria I really enjoyed the sunlight lol. Bulgaria is a league with some very good teams and strong physical players. I really like having the opportunity to play in two different leagues while in Bulgaria.
After a superb second professional season with ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA): 28 games: Score-1(20.1ppg), Reb-5(8.1rpg), 1.2apg, FGP: 64.0%,you went to Sweden early in the transfer process. When looking back do you believe you signed to early even if the offer was to good to pass up?
Its really hard to predict the off season market so when Sweden came with high interest and a serious offer, it made sense to take it. They met all my needs and thats all a player can ask for. I choose not to look back and say “what if” instead I focus on the future and what I can control.
Now you are back in Germany and will play for New Pro A team Baunach. What were the main reasons for coming back to Germany?
I really love Germany. I like it here, my wife likes it here. It is a great stable country to live and play basketball in. We are very excited to be a part of all the basketball tradition around Bamberg, and to be involved with the organizations here.
How excited are you to be able to practice with Beko BBL powerhouse Bamberg? Could this be your biggest highlight in your professional basketball career? Just having the chance to show your talent against the best should make you feel very content.
It is a great opportunity and experience to practice with some of the best coaches and players in Europe. Its very humbling. I have much to learn from all of them. Every day so far, I have been pushed and challenged to get better and learn more about the game. What else could a player ask for
You will be joining a very young team with Baunach. Are you already prepared to be a leader as you will be a player with the most experience?
Yes, this is a very young team if you look at their age but many of them have much experience playing basketball. They are all motivated and hard workers. I am prepared to lead as well as learn from them too.
The Pro A is getting more and more competitive each season and it should be the same this season. You will have to score much and rebound like you did in Essen, but possibly even more. Knowing that you have to be consistent always put even more pressure on you than in past experiences with teams?
The only pressure I feel is to win games, and we all know just one player can’t do that. It is a team thing. Although my scoring has shined in the Pro A in the past, my main focus will be on making the team better anyway I can with the ultimate goal in mind of winning each game.
After playing in Sweden and Bulgaria last season, where have you improved your game most since your last game in Germany with Essen?
I keep on working on my 3 point shot and my outside game. The more options you have as a player the deadlier you can be.
How does a typical summer workout day look like for Logan Stutz in 2014?
This summer was the craziest summer I have had in my career. I was only home for a few weeks after all my travels, but usually looks like pick up games in the morning then weights after that with a personal trainer. Then in the evening getting shots up or running outside.
With Lebron heading back to the Cavs and so many young players aboard, where do you see the journey for them ending this season in the NBA?
I see them at least making the finals and most likely bringing home the ring as long as they are healthy.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks Logan for the chat.
Keoni Watson is a 30 year old 178cm point guard from San Diego, California that has been a professional basketball player since 2007. He played at Idaho (NCAA) and as a senior played 30 games averaging 18.1ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.9%, 3Pts: 40.5%, FT: 77.8%. In 2007-2008 as a rookie he has his first basketball experience in Germany with ASC 46 Goettingen (Germany- 2.Regionalliga) playing 7 games: 44.3ppg, in Nov.’07 moved to BG 74 Goettingen (Germany-1.Bundesliga): 9 games: 6.1ppg, 2FGP: 31.6%, 3PT: 70.6%, FT: 77.8%, left in Jan.’08, then agreed terms with Swisslion Pelister Bitola (FYR Macedonia-Superleague). From 2008-2011 he played in North American for teams like Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League), San Diego Surf(ABA) and Coras de Tepic (Mexico-CIBACOPA). In 2011-2012 he came back to Germany and played for t RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB) playing 18 games: 17.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.6apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 78.4%. In the last two years he played for the San Diego Surf (ABA),Texas Surge (ABL) and recently for Industriales de San Jose (Mexico-LNB). He spoke to Germsn Hoops about basketball.
Keoni, thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you and how has your summer been?
Thanks for having me I am in San Diego California and my summer was good spend a lot of time with my family so that’s always good
After playing for RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf in the 2011-2012 season, you have been in North America in the last two seasons. How much would you like to play in Europe again?
Yes I was in America. I want to play back in Europe so bad I’ll give my right arm lol there’s nothing like Europe basketball especially in Germany
You last played for Industriales de San Jose. It was the sedcond time that you had played in Mexico after playing for Coras de Tepic. What kind of experience was it playing in Mexico again and playing on a team only with Mexicans?
Yes I had played in Mexico last season and avg. 27 points 5 ast. a game. Mexico was a great experience hot year around. I like the culture. Mexico rules are a little different than Europe but it was great experience
When you were a rookie you played briefly for BG Goettingen for John Patrick. How intense was it playing for him?
When I played for John Patrick in Goettingen, it was one of my best times in Europe. John Patrick taught me how to be a professional on and off the court and I thank him for that but it was it was very intense full court press never let up and always had to be on your game which was my type of game. Ugh I miss those days.
Your little cousin is new Fraport Skyliner guard Richard Williams. How proud are you of his rapid rise from the German pro B to Beko BBL?
Yes Richie is the new point guard for Fraport Skyliners. I’m very proud of him, because he came a long way and worked hard for it and I congratulate him for being a new member of the skyliners I knew really how much he wanted it
What has it been that has made him into a top Beko BBL point guard? Has it been a combination of hard work and dedication, an unending passion to win and skills that has brought him to where he is today?
Richie has a passion out this world for the game of basketball and to win. We worked out all summer and it was one of the most competitive summers I’ve had in a long time working out with him and I feel he brings that on the court in the game and is amazing. He can do it all. Shoot dribble pass run a team and play defense. What more do you want from your point guard
What has Richie Williams been able to incorporate into his game from years and years of practicing with you?
To never back down from anyone no matter who they are how tall they are and just being a leader and professional on and off the court
In the 2011-2012 season, you played for Stahnsdorf and had a strong season playing 18 games: 17.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.6apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 78.4%. When you look back at that season are you a bit disappointed that you weren´t able to continue your career in Germany? You had agreat season and must of been interesting for some teams?
Yes I was disappointed about not playing in Germany the next year and I thought that I had a good season and didn’t have an agent so I thought it will be easy because of the season that I had to get another job but I guess is not as easy as you think if you don’t have somebody to shop you around to other teams. That was another learning experience that I’ve came across and that Ive learned from.
What memories do you have of warrior Kellen Williams who is going into his fourth season now with Stahnsdorf?
Kellen Williams is a true definition of a warrior undersized power forward but never backing down rebounds, hustles and knows his role on the team and never doing too much more then he is supposed to do, and is a professional as well. One of my favorite teammates I’ve had since playing professional basketball
If you could sell your self in a few sentences as to why any team could sue your services now, how would you describe your current abilities?
I work hard on and off the court always going to give you 110% everyday Im a great teammate. I play defense full court, I’m quick and explosive I can shoot the three and finish at the basket and create for others and most of all is being a leader and running a team on the court and being a PG and having a passion to win.
How fanatstic would it bei f you could play fort he Fraport Skyliners juniors Pro B team? You would be able to practice with cousin Richard Williams and spend time with him each day
I would love it. It would be fun and take me back to AAU and playing on the same team in the ABA. It would make me feel like I’m at home in San Diego California
In 10 matches, who wins a one on one on the court you or Richard Williams? How would you beat him?
Out of 10 matches I will win 6 or them and he will win 4 lol I would get the edge I would beat him with a little bit of everything. Our game is so much alike and he knows how I play and I know how he plays so it would be interesting
Where will the journey of the Cavs with Lebron and Kevin Love end this season?
I see them beating the Bulls in the eastern conference and losing to a team In the western conference
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Last DVD I watched was Purge 2 and it was a great movie.
Thanks Keoni for the chat.
Ian Carter (I Have Had To Learn How To Use My Strengths, Such As Quickness And Athleticism To Make Up For Being A Lot Smaller Than My Opponents)
Ian Carter is a 21 year old 198cm forward from Ft. Smith, Arkansas that was going to start his professional basketball career in Germany with Dragons Rhoendorf (Germany-ProB), but he failed the medical test yesterday and wont be wearing their jersey. He played at Drury (NCAA2) playing there from 2010-2014 and as a senior played 32 games: 9.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.6apg, 1.1spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 46.5%, FT: 54.4%; 9.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.6apg, FG% 46.5, FT% 54.4. he won the NCAA2 title in 2013. German Hoops had the chance to talk with him this past summer before he came to Germany to play for Rhondorf.
Where are you at and how has your summer been?
Right now I’m in Springfield, Missouri. I just got back here from Atlanta, Georgia. My summer has been great so far. I’ve just been working out and spending time with family/friends. I would say that my summer has been made since I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to continue my basketball career. That was my main goal after I graduated from Drury University in May 2014. Also, my birthday is this month so I’m pretty excited about that as well!
You just signed your first professional contract with German Pro B team Rhöndorf Dragons. How excited are you about coming to Germany?
I’m very excited about coming to Germany! I’ve only been out of the country once and I was too young to remember. I’m eager to see what life is like outside of the United States and being able to play the game I love while experiencing a new lifestyle makes it even more awesome.
You will be the second player from Drury (NCAA2) to play in Germany after Brandon Kimbrough. What do you know about the country Germany and basketball? Do you know any players playing there?
I don’t know too much about Germany or basketball over there to be honest. Coach Kimbrough has told me that he had a great time playing basketball over there and told me that I will love it. I’m taking his word for it and expecting great things when I’m over there. I don’t know of any players over there right now
Did you have offers other than the Dragons Rhondorf? What were the main reasons for coming to Rhondorf?
Yes. I had a few other teams interested in me. I chose to be a dragon because I felt it was the best opportunity for me. Coach Kaminski and I both want the same goals for the program which I believe is important.
Your new coach Boris Kaminski is a very experienced coach in Germany. Did you have contact to him already? What was your early impression of him?
No I didn’t have contact to him already. He found me through my agency at Worldwide Career Management. I got a solid impression from him the first time. I can tell that he cares about our program, his players, and basketball in general. A lot of coaches come off as just being a coach because it’s what provides for their family. But Coach Kaminski is very sincere and dedicated to the game which made me want to be a part of the team even more.
You had a very solid four year career at Drury (NCAA2) now you will play in the third league in Germany. Has been proving yourself on the court been a normal occurrence for you in your basketball career?
It has definitely been a normal occurrence for a few reasons. One is that I never won a title in high school. When my name was mentioned up until we won the National Championship, winning was never next to it. I felt it was important to become a winner in the game of basketball and of course I didn’t win that National Championship by myself, but I was a key part of our team’s success. Another reason is me being an undersized post man in our league. Most of the teams we played had gigantic centers and I felt like a lot of them didn’t respect me because normally I would be a 3-4 man at any other school. I had to learn how to use my strengths, such as quickness and athleticism to make up for being a lot smaller than my opponents. I take great pride in knowing I was able to compete still.
You are only 198cm, but you’re a very skilled shot blocker. Who has always been your NBA defensive role model and where do you get your defensive skills from?
I guess I haven’t really thought about who my NBA defensive role model would be. There are a few players I always watched on defense growing up like Kobe of course, Michael Jordan, Dikembe Mutumbo, David Robinson, and Alonzo Mourning. If I had to pick my favorite to watch it would probably be someone like Dennis Rodman or Gary Payton. I’ve always been good at blocking shots ever since I started playing really. That was the one thing I could do better than anything because I was taller than everyone else.
You can do so much and when you were a sophomore, you hauled down 11 rebounds twice against William Jewel and dished out eight assists against William Jewel. Looking at all your abilities, what would you say is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away?
I would say passing is my hidden strength. I love to pass and get assists! I think its part of being a good teammate and allows me to be a player that people want to have on their team.
What was your fondest memory from the 2012-2013 Drury NCAA Division 2 championship run?
My fondest memory from the championship run was probably the actual game itself. We were down by 17 in the first half. I remember looking at Brandon Lockhart and him asking me am I going to play. That fired me up because he’s usually a pretty quiet dude on the court. For us to just come together as a team and win was insane. I remember some friends of mine telling me that they thought we were finished in the first half. Our fans were awesome too. A lot of them traveled all the way down to Atlanta and were definitely key to us coming back as well.
Drury head coach Steve Hesser coached you for four years. What one experience will you never forget where he really helped your game and will help you as a professional?
The one experience that I will never forget from Coach Hesser is him teaching me to be coachable and to be a man. Not just with basketball either, but with life as well. He was like my dad away from home from the time I was a 17 year old freshman until I graduated. I learned so much from him about the game of basketball and I could never ask for a better college coach.
You finished Drury as the all-time shot blocker with 124. When you look back at all 124 blocks, which one will you never forget? There are two I will never forget.
The one when I broke the record and the one to win the National Championship game.
How does a normal summer work out day look like for Ian Carter on and off the court?
I usually workout at 9 a.m. until about 11:30 a.m. six days a week. Then I lift three days a week and shoot 3 days a week in the evening.
Your favorite player is Kobe Bryant. Do you think LeBron James will win more NBA rings at the end of his career?
Kobe is my favorite player so I have to say no regardless. But I definitely think LeBron is capable.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
I’ve been watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix recently.
Thanks Ian for the chat.
Tyrus Mcghee is a 23 year old 188cm guard from Stringtown, Oklahoma that will be playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Last season as a rookie he played for Leche Rio Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games: 13.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 86.7%. He recently played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Golden State Warriors): 2 games: 6.0ppg, FGP: 40%, 3PT: 33.3%. He started his absketball career at Iowa State(NCAA) an das a senior played 35 games: 13.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 46.4%, FT: 82.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Tyrus thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am in Germany Playing in the BBL league for Eisbaren Bremerhaven. My summer went well got to see family and friends.
You recently played NBA Summer League for the Golden State Warriors in Las Vegas playing in two games. What kind of experience was this for you on and off the court?
The summer League was a great experience for me it was my first time. I learned A lot during the two weeks I was there. I’m looking forward to be playing in it again next year
There were so many well known people at the venue. What was the coolist experience that you had in your week in Las Vegas that you will never forget?
I wont forget the players that I got to play with and meeting new people as well
You recently signed with German Beko BBL team Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. What sold you on playing your second professional season in Germany?
I was told it was a good league and that it might take me a couple of years to play in the league,but I happen to sign with Eisbaren after my first year playing professional basketball in Lugo,Spain
What do you know about the country Germany and basketball? I know your ex teammate Will Clyburn played in Ulm. Are there any other players that you know that have played in Germany?
I really dont know to much about Germany,but im willing to grasp as much as I can while im here. Yeah Will was my old teammate that I played with in college
Last season you played for Leche Rio Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games: 13.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 86.7%. This league is very strong and in comparison equal or even better to many other first divisions in other countries. In what areas of your game were you able to improve most in as a rookie?
I think my areas I improved in was playing point guard position.
You came from Junior college to Iowa State. What was your wake up call in the NCAA where you knew that you had arrived at the NBA of the college league?
Juco prepared for the NCAA and the NCAA prepared me for the NBA
At Iowa State you were known as the sixth man. You averaged 7,7ppg as a junior and 13,1ppg in this role. Is this the role that Fred Hoiberg envisioned you to have or did you grow into rapidly from the start?
No this was not the role he advised me, becuase he recruited me as a point guard out of junior college then he realized that I was a scoring 2 and he needed me to come off the bench to score the ball, I took that role n it stuck with me my two years there.
Having had this two year experience as sixth man in the NCAA, if you had to pick an NBA player sixth man that you respect most who would you chose and why?
Jamar Crawford he plays hard and when he touches the floor he’s all about business and that’s what I am about once I touch the floor!
Your ex teammate Wil Clyburn had a very solid rookie season in Germany. What is your most memorable moment with him on and off the court at Iowa State?
Just playing with Will was memories for me and it was me and his last year playing together in college and we had a real good season together and we made a lot of noise for Iowa State while we were there
You hit for 22 points on 6/10 shooting from outside against Kansas and Ben Mclemore. Is this a game that you will forever remember from your college days?
I think the game against Oklahoma State my junior year was for me. I stole the ball went down hit a 3 two tie the game and next positionIi made Oklahoma State turn the ball over and the senior on our team hit a buzzer beater to win the game
In your two seasons at Iowa State, what was the most important thing that head coach Fred Hoiberg gave you that got you ready for a professional basketball career?
Coach Fred would always tell me to rise up with a lot of confidence and shoot the ball. He knew I was a good shooter and he always gave me the green light! And too always be me because I had character.
How does a typical summer work out day look like for Tyrus MCghee in the summer of 2014?
Put in work until its time to go to sleep
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
He got game.
Thanks Tyrus for the chat.
Sometimes when things aren´t going well for a team, you need some guy that will take charge and be that spark plug to get a team out of a bind, or pray that the basketball God has some kind of eye on you, or hope for that special player to suddenly appear that only flies in for games. Midway through the first quarter, German Regionaliga team EVL Limburg were holding their own having tied Giessen 12-12 and didn´t really need any support, but all of a sudden a short, stocky afro-american appeared at the Limburg bench with a James Harden like beard and for a second it seemed like ex Limburg guard Ronald Howard was back for the grind to help Limburg in the game. However it wasn´t Ronald Howard, but his brother Zeon. He was just happy to have made it to the game after his whirl wind experience getting to the gym. „My tire blew out on the A-3 highway and I had to go back to the airport to get another car. I am usually at the game and hour before the game. I am just happy that I wasn´t pulled over on the highway“, smiled Zeon Gray. Gray wasn´t able to be that saviour either as the Giessen 46ers easily won their first test game of the season 90-53. „You could see that Giessen is well coached as they played well together. We were outmatched, but I am proud of the guys as they never gave up“, stressed Zeon Gray. For Giessen it was a positive start to the season as one can´t evaluate the game too much since it was against a Regionaliga team, but Giessen guard TJ DiLeo was happy with the effort of the team. „I like what I saw. At times we were a bit sloppy. We can still improve on defense and our offense is a work in progress. I thought each guy made good plays and we shared the ball well. We have to learn better to play with leads and not loose focus as teams in the Pro A will always be able to come back“, stressed ex Temple guard TJ DiLeo.
The first test game of the season for both teams was held in a small gym on the outskirts of Limburg. EVL Limburg was without their new import player 23 year old 193cm guard Paul Dick from Ireland that last season played for the Belfast Star. Giessen started the game with guards Cameron Wells, and TJ DiLeo, forwards Benjamin Lischka and Yorman Polas and center Jonathan Malou. Limburg guard Justin Stahllbohm got the first big cheers from the home crowd as he made two very difficult shots hitting over Malu and Lishka while hitting the floor twice as EVL Limburg held on to the lead 6-4. Both teams then exchanged runs as Giessen went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 10-6 as Wells connected on a three pointer, Dileo nailed a runner and Malu made a free throw. However with both teams still feeling each other out, EVL Limburg took advantage of that and went on a 6-2 run to tie the game at 12-12. In the run 28 year old 210cm center Lithuanian Mantas Bernatavicious took control inside getting two tip ins as Giessen at times seemed overwelmed by his physicality. However this was as close as EVL Limburg would be the whole game as Giessen now broke the game open and would never look back. They closed out the game with a 15-1 run to lead 27-13 after one quarter. The comeback kid Besnik Bekteshi who once was labelled as one of the big talents in Germany from the year 1993. After playing for BBA Ludwigsburg in the 2009-2010 season where he averaged16.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.4apg, 3.7spg, critics thought that his career would really take off, but it didn´t. In the next three seasons, he played only 22 Beko BBl games for Ludwigsburg being more of a garbage time player than a role player. After sitting out last season due to a serious injury, he hopes of getting back on track in his basketball career at the age of 21 with the Giessen 46ers. In this run he steered eight points including back to back three pointers. Ex Chmenitz guard Eric Palm nailed a three pointer and ex Kirchheim big man Bjoern Schoo made a lay in.
In the second quarter, Giessen continued to find their rhythm more and more and everyone was getting into the scoring as they were sharing the ball nicely. Giessen also got more physical on the boards as offensive rebounds started to multiply just like the Bastian Schweinstieger ice bucket challenge video clicks at you tube. Malu started the Giessen scoring with a baby hook shot which was matched by a jumper from Limburg player Boris Bosjnak. Giessen kept heightening their lead with consecutive buckets from ex Tuebingen guard Cameron Wells and a three pointer from Eric Palm as Giessen led 36-19. Giessen continued to get more comfortable with each other and the soft rim extending their lead to 47-21 going on a 11-2 run. In the run, 16 year old Niklas Bilski connected from the wing, while the come back kid Bekteshi had the hot hand scoring inside and heaving home a bomb from the parking lot. In the last few minutes, EVL Limburg caught Giesen napping on a few offensive sets ending the second quarter on a 6-3 run to trail 50-27 at halftime. In the run, EVL Limburg got the line and Justin Stallbohm finally connected on a three pointer after having had misfortune from the field since the first few minutes where he made two tough shots “We had some mental lapses. Good teams can´t let that happen“, stressed Zeon Gray.
EVL Giessen came up more than flat in the third quarter allowing Giessen to jump all over them going on a 11-0 run to extend their lead to 61-27. American Eric Palm got Giessen going on the run with a tip in a nd three pointer. Giessen did a good job on the offenisve glass getting a tip in from Polas and a lay in from Malu. „Palm had lights out. We really should not have let him breath, but should have smelt his chewing gum“, added Zeon Gray. EVL Limburg then took a chapter out of the Giessen third quarter run by going on their own run of 7-0 snapping the GIessen lead to 61-34. This was a strong phase from Boris Bosjnak who used his athletcism scoring inside twice. However EVL Limburg then let Giessen on a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 68-34 as Di Leo hit a pull up jumper and then made a steal going coast to coast for the easy lay up and Bilski hit from outside again. Limburg ended the third quarter with a 4-1 run, but Giessen still hd dthe overwhelming 69-38 lead as the class difference between both teams was more than evident and EVL Limburg was getting more tired as they were playing on a 9 man rotation.
Giessen started off the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 75-39 as Palm and Polas scored inside. In the fourth quarter, it was obvious that Giessen would win this game and the question was if they could duplicate their firepower and reach the 100 point mark. One guy who stayed quiet in his first test game of the season was Benjamin Lischka. He started his basketball career in 2005 for VfB Giessen (Regionalliga) where he played some years and then moved to TV Lich playing with his brother Johannes. He then played two seasons with Kirchheim and Crailsheim before returning home last season to Giessen playing 38 games and averaging 8.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 70.1%. When you examine the face of Lischka during a game, one thing comes to mind instantly. He has a pokerface on at all times. It could be his birthday, he could be asked by Paris Hilton on a date or Daniel Colman could give him a bit of his 15 million poker win and it seems like Lischka would have that stern serious look despite anyone else being overjoyed, because that is his game face/poker face at all times. There were still some spectacular shots in the last five minutes with two form Zeon Gray. On the first shot, Gray hit an in your face shot against Cameron Wells where he had that look of bewilderment on how he could of had that audacity to even try that shot. Later Gray made a seemingly impossible fade away bank shot to cut the Giessen lead to 83-49 that would have deserved a nomination for ESPN top 10 plays. „That shot was like cat and mouse. The defender was on me and wanted me to take the shot. He put his hand up which forced me to take ball down again. Then he got close to me again and I had to shoot it. It felt good and I knew it was going in. Us small guys often look wild taking shots, but we have to find unorthodox ways of taking shots“, warned Zeon Gray. In the last few minutes, Gray would make one more shot and Malu was sent to the free throw line twice while making an one. In the end, Giessen was way too much for EVL Limburg winning 90-53. Giessen was led by Besnek Bekteshi with 16 points. Eric Palm added 12 points. Jonathan Malu, Cameron Wells and Bjoern Schoo each chipped in with nine points a piece. EVL Limburg was led by Boris Bosnjak with 17 points and Zeon Gray added 16 points. Giessen still have a long way to go in their preseason and second year man DiLeo already sees differences from this team to last years team, but not much in his role. „I think that we are more athletic this season as well as having more size and experience.Also each guy from last season has more experience coming into this season. I think my role will be like last season. Palm and I sharing minutes and when we are both on the court I moving to the three. Coach wants me to play aggressive and team basketball“, commented TJ DiLeo.
Rasid Mahalbasic(Austrian National Team) My Team And I Have Nothing To Lose And We Will Fight Until The End Against Germany
Rasid Mahalbasic is a 23 year old 211cm center that was born in Jesenice (Slovenia), but also hast he Austrian citzenship and plays for the Austrian national team. Mahalbasic started his basketball career in 2006 for the Worthersee Piraten (A Bundesliga) where he played until 2009. In the 2009-2010 season he played for Bosna ASA BH Telecom Sarajevo (Bosnia-D1, starting five): DNP, in Oct.’09 moved back to kelag Worthersee Piraten (Austria-A Bundesliga, starting five): 27 games: 18.4ppg, Reb-2(8.6rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 31.4%, FT: 64.4%. In the 2010-2011 season he played for Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey-TBL), in Dec.’10 loaned to Tofas Bursa (Turkey-TBL): 10 games: 3.7ppg, 3.0rpg; in Feb.’11 moved back to Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey-TBL), in Mar.’11 signed at KK Split (Croatia-A1): 13 games: 5.0ppg, 2.3rpg. In the 2011-2012 season he played for Zlatorog Lasko (Slovenia-Telemach League): Slovenian League: 2 games: 4.0ppg, 1.0spg, 1.5bpg; Adriatic League: 3 games: 4.7ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0bpg. In the 2012-2013 season he played for Asseco Prokom Gdynia (Poland-TBL, starting five): 36 games: 11.0ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 58.0%, FT: 68.7%; Euroleague: 10 games: 9.1ppg, Reb-5(6.8rpg), 1.3apg, FGP: 58.2%, FT: 59.1%. Last season he played for CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL, starting five): VTB United League: 18 games: 11.1ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 63.5%, FT: 72.2%; Czech Rep. NBL: 29 games: 10.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.0apg, FGP-2(68.8%), 3PT-1(66.7%), FT: 62.2%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.3ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 60.6%, FT: 69.0%. This season he will play for BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1). He spoke to German Hoops before the do or die game for Germany against Austria in Hagen, Germany.
Rasid thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on the 80-71 victory against Luxemburg. Are these type of games that one should win at times more difficult to play and win than the tough games because one has to have the right mentality to beat the lesser talented teams?
As a country who is progressing in Basketball we can not allow to underestimate any team in this competition. Luxemburg might not beat anybody so far but still, we have to respect all teams
What was the biggest strength of Austria against Luxemburg that you will want to carry over to the Germany game on Sunday in Hagen?
We showed that we can play a nice collective basketball over the whole 40 minutes, and also the percentage of the 3 point shots was very solid. If we can play hard defense and hold Germany under 70 points everything will be possible.
How happy have you been with your own play in qualifying for Euro 2015? You are averaging 17,8ppg, 8,8rpg and 3,5apg. You really have been a work horse, but could you still elevate your game even more if needed?
I am very happy with the Team success, its a big thing for our Ski-Nation to be in a realistic position to qualify for the Eurobasket 2015. My game is so good like the team, and we are seeing progress on both sides so far .
If someone had told you before qualifying that near the end Austria would be in first place in the standings what would you have thought? What has been the secret of the 3-1 Austria record and good play?
All of us believe that we can make it far , and good preparation , team chemistry and a lot of heart make things a lot easier for us, but I would tell this someone he might be right
What Austrian national player has been the unsung hero in the first four games. The player that has been very important, but not necessarily got all the credit he should have deserved?
David Hasenburger is our un seen star he could have a bright future, this summer ,he signed with Güssing Knights who will play the Eurochallenge, untill now he played on the power forward position and will he will be key player for the following games
Austria lost the first game at home against Germany 77-64 and now go to Germany for the rematch. Germany has to win in a do or die type game while Austria wants revenge. What kind of game can we await?
We can expect a fight all 40 minutes , last time we played only 37 minutes this time we will give everything we got !!! At the end of the 40 minutes we hope to be the better team and take the win home
Germany is only 2-2 and have been a disappointment. Are you surprised about their lack luster play. In Bonn against Poland, they were missing the motivation and simple killer instinct wanting to win the game.
Germany is a very young and talented team who is building with some new faces, with coach Mutapcic , they have a bright future. Well now its Germany but at the end we are all humans and all of as can play basketball.
Ingo Weiss of the German basketball federation has said Germany will explode and win in Hagen. Is this more just cockiness or despair from the side of Germany? IF Germany doesn´t qualify, it will once again be a big step backwards for Germany basketball.
We don’t care what the Federation is saying , my team and I have nothing to lose , we will fight till the end Against Germany . So Germany have to show they deserve the win. Germany basketball will never make a step back, the BBL has a very strong background where they are progressing every year
You are only 23 years old, but this upcoming season you will be playing for your 9th team with BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1). Do you sometimes feel like a basketball world traveler? Has all these experience helped your game more than had you played with just a few teams in your career?
My life showed me a lot places in the world, and I met a lot of people who helped me develop my personality and also the way I play, without the ups and downs in my career, I would not be the same player I am today.
You played with Euroleague team Asseco Procom two seasons ago. What was more difficult battling Adam Hrycaniuk down low in practice or having to stop Jerel Blassingame on the penetration in practice? Lol
I think my problem was to stop Adam Hrycaniuk, and his problem was to catch Jerel.
Last season you won the Czech title with Nymburk. If you look at the roster this season with Jiri Welsch, Derek Raivio, Darius Washington, Chester Simmons, Garret Stutz and Christian Burns, one could almost hand them all titles without playing a game. You played there last season, but when looking at this team, granted the club stays injury free could this be an undefeated type of team?
I believe that Nymburk put a very good roster together for the upcoming season , and I am pretty sure the will win the Czech Titel again, but we will see if they will beat BC Astana in the VTB
Early in your career you played at Worthersee under the guidance of Matthias Fischer who now has made a name for himself in the German Beko BBL. How did you get better as a player under his coaching?
Fischer changed my game totally , from a big man who was just posting up and screening , he changed my game totally . We worked on my jump shot, dribbling and he tried to make me quicker on the court. He helped me to make the step out of Austria. I am very happy for Coach F. that he is doing so well in Germany
You recently took the ALS ice bucket challenge. Many players haven´t been to creative and just stood in a shower and took the ice. If you had the chance to be a bit creative, what would be the perfect ice bucket setting for you?
I would remind the people that its cool and funny to do the challenge but they should also donate some real money !!!!
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Germany vs Poland.
Thanks Rasid for the chat.