Terence Billups is a 198cm forward from Jeffersonville, Indiana that is playing his fourth professional season and third in Germany. After tearing up the Regionaliga with Cottbus and Rendsburg, and now is playing a level up in the Pro B with the UNI-Riesen Leipzig. He started his basketball career with Western Dakota Tech (JUCO) and then moved to Indiana SE (NAIA) in 2012 playing 20 games averaging 9.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 46.0%, FT: 85.7%. In 2013 he started his professional basketball career with West Michigan Lake Hawks (ABA). In the 2014-2015 season he came to Germany to BBC White Devils Cottbus (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 22 games Score-3(24.8ppg), 8.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.6spg, Blocks-2(2.0bpg), FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 76.3%.In the 2015-2016 season he played for Basketball Club Rendsburg (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 26 games averaging 18.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 27.2%, FT: 67.3%. He spoke to German Hoops about the playdowns and the Uni-Riesen Leipzig season.
Terence thanks for talking to German Hoops. 2017 has come and we are already into March. Did you set any new years resolutions and if you did have to stayed faithful to them in the first two months?
It’s always a pleasure! I didn’t set any new years resolution. I always want to continuously better myself and I don’t think I need a new years resolution to do this. However, I normally stay faithful to the plans I set for myself throughout the year.
You lost the last regular season game against the Licher Basket Baeren in a wild game that went back and forth. You were down by 9 in the fourth and took it into OT with a Cardell McFarland three pointer. Their Germans Kraushaar and Horstmann got the best of you scoring the last 6 points. Is the revenge factor going to be extra big against them in the playdowns?
I wouldn’t say its revenge. They didn’t give up as a team shouldn’t do. We allowed them nearly 100pts going into overtime. We just need to do better like I know we can. Now we are fighting to stay in the league and I think that when we play Licher, we need to be consistent in our game plan and execute on both ends of the floor. If we do this like I’ve seen us in the past, then we will come on top every time.
In the Pro B it´s either playoffs or playdowns and the Uni-Riesen Leipzig was close at making the playoffs, but lost their last two games not to get there. How disappointing were getting these last two loses after beating the two best teams PS Karlsruhe and Weissenhorn before that?
You would think that we would have gained a lot of confidence after beating the top two teams back to back. But in order to keep the win streak going, you have to be consistent play by play on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes. It was disappointing to see my team mess up on assignments throughout the game in which resulted in the loses in the last two games.
How do you explain beating the best two teams in the Pro B and then finishing the season losing to one potential playdown team and another playdown team?
Against PS Karlsruhe, we played team basketball for 40 minutes like I’ve never seen from us before. Against Weissenhorn, we kept the game close all the way to the end. And we were able to come out on top by 1pt. But then when we play Fraport, we missed countless assignments throughout the entire game which resulted in a big lose. And lastly, we lost to Licher because we didn’t play good basketball for 40 minutes. We had a good first half. In fact, I think we were up by double digits by the end of the half. In the second half, we made too many mistakes that let them back into the game. And from there, it was a dog fight to the end. They made some tough shots. We responded with some tough shots, especially pushing it into OT. But in the end, they came out on top. So basically, when we can be consistent in executing the game plan on both ends of the floor, we will find good results.
How vital was the pick up of Cardell McFarland and how confident are you that the club will remain in the league with his playmaking and leadership?
Cardell was important for us as he replaced the injured German point guard, Guy Aud. I think he had a few rough games, but I see more of his game in practice. So I know what he’s capable of doing on the court. He’s even shown it in a couple of games. He’s well educated on the court and has a good skillset at his position. But it’s a team game. And each individual must do their part well and in sync. At this point, I think we as a team will determine the clubs fate whether the club moves down or stays in the league. And that’s how well each player does their part starting in practice and carrying over into the games to come.
How have you followed the season of Jordan Faison and where do you rate it with all power forwards in the league? Is he overall over Aaron Nelson or is the Rhondorf big dawg the clear number one this season in the league?
It’s a tough call. I would say that Nelson is huge in the paint. He can give you buckets in the paint with ease. Jordan can do so also, but I think Aaron Nelson has more of an edge with his frame. But I would take Jordan’s defense over Nelson’s. Both are good players in my eyes. I would pick Jordan to play with over Nelson because Jordan has a better defensive presence in my eyes. But from a statistical point of view, Nelson would be number 1.
You had a great 2016 being very consistent, but as the second half of the season rolled around in 2017, you suddenly got less minutes. Did your role change?
It definitely changed. We needed a point guard on the floor more than we needed a shooting guard or small forward. So I needed to accept the changes and help the team in different ways.
You have been a guy that has been used to playing very much in your first two Regionalliga seasons in Cottbus and Rendsburg and first half in Leipzig, but how difficult was it getting your minutes shaved in half and how did you learn to cope with it?
In the beginning, I was content with the change if it meant the team would win more games over loses. But this didn’t happen. It began to get difficult when the team is losing more games then it’s winning and my minutes are cut drastically. And I couldn’t do much about it because of the circumstances. So coach and I talked about it and decided that I should focus more on the defensive end and bring energy in that sense because I wont have an huge imprint in the game to make a significant difference offensively with the amount of minutes I play now. So I focus on defense more and play the game I know how to play.
Despite having less minutes you have been quite efficient. How important has patience become on the court for you and just making the right plays at all times now then before when you were playing 30 plus minutes?
It’s more crucial now. You have less room for error. When you play much more, you will more likely make a couple of mistakes. But your positive plays on the court will usually outweigh the negatives. When you play for a much shorter period, those mistakes you make becomes your highlights of the game. All I can do is be prepared, focused, and ready to go in the game when my name is called. And when I do these things, I will have success.
Do you learn to appreciate the game more now with having less minutes and needing to be as efficient as possible?
I actually do now. It may be easy to take things like this for granted until its striped away from you. So it keeps me more humbled and motivated to work hard and be the best player and person I can be.
The Uni-Riesen Leipzig go into the Playdowns with an even 3-3 record against the three teams. How confident are you that you will stay in the league?
As long as we do our individual tasks on the court for 40 minutes, we will have a good chance at staying in the league. And for us, it starts defensively.
Defense will be the key as you have proved as a team that can defend when you want to keeping Ps Karlsruhe and FC Bayern Munich recently back to back to 66 points, but ended the season against Frankfurt and Lich averaging giving up 97 points. What aspect on defense will be most vital to consistently being successful?
When it comes to our defense, we need to play as a team. But it first starts by playing good one-on-one defense. When this happens, we can have more success in keeping teams to lower points.
Which Pro B player was the toughest to guard this season?
I think Jacob Mampuya was probably the toughest. He has good speed and quickness along with a quick first step. And if you don’t respect his shot, he will pull up from range. Play too tight, he’s quick enough to blow past you. So I have to play in between a try to keep my defensive unpredictable so that he either passes the ball or makes the wrong decision
. Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
This ranks pretty high with me. His teammates did a great job in finding him and he rewarded them and himself by making the shots. I think the confidence he had within himself to shoot like that made it more remarkable. It was definitely entertaining to watch.
One always talks about LeBron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I haven’t seen the stats of the players. I only watch the highlights of a few NBA teams. But when Westbrook is averaging a triple double and his team is plus .500, then its hard to say that statistically, he’s the best player in the world. But I wouldn’t say he is the best player. I still lean toward LeBron and Curry with Curry being my favorite player to watch.
Draymond Green recently had a triple double without scoring 10 points or more. Why do you believe has it taken long for someone to do this?
Draymond is a special kind of player. He brings a unique kind of energy on the court. And with this uniqueness, he is able to do things like he’s doing now.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Escape Plan.
Thanks Terence for the chat.