Rasid Mahalbasic is a 25 year old 211cm center that was born in Jesenice (Slovenia), but also has the Austrian citizenship 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%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) playing 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%. In the 2014-2015 season he played for BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) playing VTB United League: 33 games: 14.6ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 61.3%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.8%; EuroChallenge: 12 games: 13.1ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 62.8%, FT: 73.6%; Kazakhstani D1: 11 games: 8.2ppg, Reb-2(6.5rpg), 2.4apg, Steals-2(2.0spg), FGP: 53.7%, FT: 51.4%. Last season he played for BC Nizhny Novgorod (Russia-VTB): 27 games: 12.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 15.4%, FT: 73.1%; Eurocup: 20 games: 11.2ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 61.6%, 3PT: 8.3%, FT: 58.1%. He spoke to German Hoops from Vienna, Austria before the team left for Bamberg to face Germany in possibly the biggest game since years for both countries determining who will qualify for the 2017 European championships.
Rasid thanks for talking to German Hoops. A tough 75-61 loss against Holland After the first day where Austria beat Holland in a hard battle, would you still have thought that the Dutch could win 3 in a row and be the #1 team after four matches?
It was a tough loss for us. It was a big road win for them and I believe that we underestimated them a bit. They did a good job dominating the boards and their perimeter players played well. We struggled in this game and it was our worst game in the qualifying tournament this summer.
Just like the first game, the second encounter with the Dutch was a tight battle in the first half with Holland having the slight advantage 39-38. The turning point came in the third quarter where the Dutch held Austria to 7 points. What was vital for Holland keeping your point total down and what adjustments did the Dutch make on defense?
They did a good job attacking our zone in the third quarter. We didn´t play as a team and the only guy that had a soft touch shooting was Thomas Schreiner. I was unable to help the team with my shooting. In this phase, we were unable to find a solution to get points on the board and they played their game
The two work horses of the team you and Thomas Schreiner combined for 37 points and were the only two players scoring in double figures. Why does scoring consistency from other players pose a problem for this team at times?
We have been lucky so far to have had 1-2 guys that were able to step it up each game and there were always different guys in each game. It always depends on the day which players will step up. I believe that it is important that we can have many guys step up that aren´t necessarily on the opponents scouting report.
The rebounding was a problem as the Dutch outrebounded you 40-27. Was effort on the boards and just wanting it more than the Dutch a reason for not being able to escape with a victory? Austria still has valuable size on the boards despite the absence of Jakob Poelti?
No I don´t believe that it had to do with a lack of effort. We always want to perform well on the boards, but for Holland it was crucial to rebound well and they did a good job getting rebounds form the 2-3 position players and had more loose balls that they were able to get. Of course Poelti is missing, but we can´t think about that. He would have been a big help on the boards, but the Toronto Raptors wanted him there. We have to live with the fact that we can only have what we have and use that to the best of our ability.
This season the Austrian national team continue to be a tough team to play and continue to fight to qualify for the European championships like they have the last years without luck of qualifying. With two games left, the club has a good chance. Team Austria has had many players from the last years and continue to build good team chemistry. How has the team developed in the last three years to now have that chance to finally qualify for a Euro?
I think that the most important factors have been that many players have got more experience over the years playing internationally and also getting more minutes with their clubs. Important also is that because so many have been here so long and been playing together so long, we all are friends and just want to be here each summer playing together and being successful. It is very important that we have to qualify for the Euro 2017.
Team Austria has it all in their own hands. They have probably one of the biggest games in years and Germany also is looking at one of their biggest games in years and thankfully for them it´s in Bamberg where it is always hard to play. Are you slowly getting motivated for this big battle?
We are very motivated to play this game and are always wanting to beat Germany. The last win against Germany was 9 years ago. That was a long time ago and we finally want to win again. We hope that with the loss of Tibor Pleiss that they won´t be able to adjust in time when they play us. We are going to Bamberg to fight and we have nothing to lose. This could be one of the last games for many of us wearing the national jersey of Austria.
What is wrong with team Germany. They could easily be 1-3 now as Austria had them at the brink of elimination and then lost to Holland and a 3 OT loss to Denmark. Germany may be without Dennis Schroeder and now Tibor Pleiss, but surely still have ample weapons. Is Germany underachieving this summer?
It may seem like Germany is underachieving, but it isn´t about that. It has more to do about what is happening in Germany concerning the team. There are so many players that aren´t with the team and then Tibor Pleiss left recently. I think that a big problem is that too many thought that reaching the Euro 2017 could be done before it is actually done. A guy like Robin Benzing has been with the team for the longest time. Benzing and Danilo Barthel are nonstop fighting on the court. You can´t blame the players or coaching. Basketball is just getting better in Europe. Germany is a great team. The problem is that the media is too tough on them. It is easy to point fingers, but instead should support the team more.
Do you feel like there is possibly that team leader missing that can keep the team together in crunch time? Can a Paul Zipser grow into this role?
I think that they have a bunch of players that can be the team leader in crunch time. There are some lesser known players getting valuable experience this time around which is good for them and the team. Germany isn´t lazy, but have been fighting hard in the games. Zipser is still young and playing good solid basketball at the moment. Germany just needs time to connect. It could look a lot different next year.
How much is that 61-59 loss to Germany still in your head and the missed three pointer by Anton Maresch? Did it take a while to digest the loss for the team?
This loss is in the back of our heads. We have to accept it and not remember the past. I felt very bad losing this game, but for now we will forget the loss and have nothing to lose in Bamberg and will be ready to play.
This game was pretty evenly matched in the stats with the shooting and rebounding similar, but especially in tight games one or two turnovers more can cost a game as Austria coughed up the ball two times more. What will be key in Bamberg for getting by Germany?
The key in Germany will be to play hard aggressive basketball until the last two minutes and then give the best what we have . I believe strongly that it will be a tight game until the last 2 minutes
Austria has an easier schedule than Germany and has it in their own hands. If they can beat Germany by more than two points and beat Denmark, they will qualify. How confident are you that in the next week, team Austria will be successful and win 2 games?
I am looking forward to this game in Germany and we really need to step it up. We will go into the game and give our best. We know that we have a chance and we know that we have to be ready mentally and physically for a hard battle and at the end we will see who wins.
You have been team Austria´s best performer in the last summers as well as top scorer in the qualifications. Do you ever feel any pressure having to perform well every game when your wearing the Austrian jersey?
I do feel a little pressure, but I know that at the end of the day that I will always get the support of the coaching staff and my teammates. I always give my best and do whatever it takes to help give my team a win. I know that if I score 20 points and we don´t win that I didn´t do my job.
You have been playing at a top level at the club competition for the last 6 years, but are only 25 years old. Do you feel like you can still achieve a lot in the next years raising your game before you reach your prime at age 28 or 29?
I hope so. I believe I can. First I need a job as I am unsigned at the moment. I left my last team BC Nizhny Novgorod (Russia-VTB), because they had financial problems, but I always had a good relationship with the club. I want to further my career and am looking for a top European team and hopefully reach the top.
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title home, where does this further ring put him in the debate against Michael Jordan as the all-time best ever?
You can´t compare them because they played in different era´s. Jordan is a living legend and reached this status through his play, physicality and behavior off the court. Lebron can reach this level also. Both guys were the best in their era´s and now it is just a matter of taste which player you see as being the greatest of all-time..
If you had to construct an NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you choose?
Magic Johnson, Shaq, Ray Allen and Kevin Durant
What was the last movie that you saw?
The new Bourne movie.
Thanks Rasid for the chat.