Chris Oliver is a 31 year old 198cm forward is playing his tenth professional season and first in Taiwan with the Kaohsiung Truth. He played at Radford from 2003-2007 and in his senior year, he played 30 games averaging 18.8ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.1apg, 1.9spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 48.7%, 3Pts: 25.8%, FT: 74.8%. He came to Germany in 2007-2008 and played for the Kaiserslautern Braves of the PRO A and then reached the BBL playing two seasons with BG Goetingen winning the Eurochallenge title in 2010 and then played a season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. He then gained further valuable basketball experience playing 4 seasons in France, briefly in Hungry and last season with Niigata Albirex (Japan-BJ League, starting five): 14 games: 15.9ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.6apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 45.1%, 3FGP: 34.1%, FT: 77.3%, left during the season, in Mar.’16 moved to Jean D’Arc Vichy Clermont Metropole (France-ProB): 6 games: 9.8ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 72.7%. He spoke to German Hoops about his experiences in Taiwan
Chris thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how has your day been?
I’m currently at my teammates house for his daughters 1st birthday party. His wife made tacos for the team as well.
After eight professional years in Europe, you decided to make the long trek far east to Japan last season and this season to Taiwan and join the Kaohsiung Truth (Taiwan-ASEAN League). Did you feel like this was the right time in your career or could you have thought playing in the far east 5 years ago?
It was a very good opportunity for me coming here to Taiwan and an amazing opportunity to see a lot of Asia that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have experienced. If I knew back then what I know now I think I would have come to Asia many years ago lol.
Taiwan has the SBL league and the new league ASEAN where you are playing in. It has 6 teams and are from 6 south east Asian countries (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam). In a way it reminds me of the VTB league as there you also play in many different countries. You have been playing in this league now three months. It´s a new league, but skill wise how would you compare it to the leagues in Germany and France where you have played?
I would agree with you it’s similar to VTB or Adriatic league or European competition with the travel but the competition level isn’t as high as Europe. It’s a totally different game here. There are only 2 world imports allowed per team so we all play 36+ mins. The Asian players are talented but mainly shooters but they can SHOOT and run 100 mph lol. Compared to Germany and France this league isn’t near as athletic or fast or physical.
The most known players in the league are ex NBA players Josh Boone and Luke Schenscher. How much potential does this league have to grow and is there enough money to attract big name players in the future?
There is def enough money to attract some big name players and the travel is a nice bonus and incentive for whoever they recruit. The league is relatively young with this being its 10th season I believe but it has been getting better and better each year. And as the local talent continues to improve it’s going to continue to get better and stronger.
Last season you played not even two months for Niigata Albirex (Japan-BJ League) and left to head back to an old stomping ground France. Did your first tour of duty in Japan prepare for a second go around now in Taiwan where everything is working out for you now?
Japan and Taiwan are night and day for me lol. I personally did not like my experience in Japan basketball wise but the country is really nice. I was happy when I went back to France though. I’m loving being in Taiwan on and off the court. The country is great.
Let´s talk about the team Kaohsiung Truth. The club is near the bottom of the standings. How much potential does the team have and in what areas on the defensive end can the team improve on?
It’s the team’s first year. We went through a lot of growing pains early on in the season but have been playing much better in the second half of the season. We are in a dog fight now with Saigon (Vietnamese team) for the final playoff spot. Our last 4 games of the season are going to be very important. It’s almost win or go home. We switched to a 2-3 zone and have been much better defensively.
The ASEAN league showcases a lot of scoring so is defense in general something where there is less focus on in general in practice?
It’s a different kind of basketball in Asia. It’s very fast paced and up and down with a lot of 3s being shot. So there are more possessions. Which is also why the scoring numbers are high for teams.
You are seventh in scoring and rebounding and sixth in assists. How pleased have you been with your play and at the age of 31, how much potential does a veteran like you still have to get better?
I’ve actually climbed the lists in each category so it’s been a true blessing. I can play better. There is always room for improvement.
It seems everyone is seeing your all around play as you are all over the court doing so much. Do you feel like you are becoming an even better all around player?
Hahaha yes I’ve definitely been all over the court this season. I’ve seen minutes at every position this season. Early in the year I played a lot of minutes at pg which is something I never did in my career before. But it has expanded my game having to do so much ball handling for the team. I’ve been enjoying all the roles I’ve been asked to play.
This must be the first time in your professional career that your leading your team in assists. Does this speak more for your passing abilities or against the playmaking of the other guards?
Yes lol this is for sure my first time leading my team in assists. It’s been a combination of having the ball in my hands so much and my teammates knocking down their shots. Our big man is a great shooter as well so I get a lot of assists to him at the top of the key lol.
You have always been a very good passing forward. Do you feel as though your passing has gotten better this season mainly since you have had to create more?
I think my passing is the same but I believe it’s my usage rate that has my assist numbers higher this season. God is great.
You’re playing 38 minutes a game. Have you had to change your whole lifestyle around, nutrition as well as fitness to be able to play at a high level for 38 minutes? What is the difference in your fitness level now that allows you to go full speed for those last five minutes that you play per game?
It’s been a huge adjustment lol. I think my highest minutes in Europe might have been 32 or 33 minutes a game. I haven’t changed my nutrition but I’ve been blessed to always stay in pretty good shape. The final 5 minutes are definitely a push lol.
Do you feel this league will be able to open doors for a guy like teammate Derek Hall who is averaging 20/12 stats and played at a NCAA 3 school Albright. Does he have the game to play at a high level in Europe?
Derek is a very skilled big. He’s a 7 footer that is more of a face up 4 man than a center. He’s a tough guard for a lot of bigs as their natural tendencies are to run to the basket and Derek is cash money from the top of the key and mid range.
Your biggest accomplishment has to be your 2010 Eurochallenge title with BG Goettingen, but where does your triple double rank this season against Westports Malaysia Dragons where you had 19/16/10 stats? Does this show how your game has developed in the ASEAN league?
I would agree winning the euro challenge or the French championship has to be number 1 in my career. The triple double is a great personal accomplishment but it wouldn’t have been possible if my teammates weren’t knocking down shots.
Another important aspect as too why you joined the club is the that it is a Christian ministry team, You stated in your blog entry for “My Hoop Journey” that the goal of the group is not only to be the best basketball team in Asia, but we also have a bigger mission to spread the glory of God. The team’s mission statement is “The team aspires to bring glory to God through their talents, faith, and hard work on and off the basketball court.” How has your experience with this club helped benefited your relationship with God?
It’s been amazing spreading the Word of God here. A lot of people haven’t heard the Gospel before so it’s has meant the world to me to be able to bring God to some of the locals here. Everyday regardless of where I am is another opportunity to grow in my relationship with God. He is the way and the reason I’m able to do any and everything that I do.
You have stated the biggest adjustments have been the time zone as it is 13 hours ahead of the States as well as everyone staring at you because you are taller than everyone else. What has been your coolist experience so far in this environment that you will be able to tell your grandchildren later?
Just being able to experience the culture here has been great. Bringing my local teammates to church is definitely one of the best experiences I have had since being here.
Soon it will be 6 years since you last laced up your sneakers for a German team. With what teammates do you still have the best contact from your Goettingen and Tuebingen days?
Time flies!!! I miss my German days. That is where my professional career started and I’ll forever be thankful to the cities, fans, and teams I played for. I keep up with a lot of my old teammates thru social media and still talk to Jason Boone, John Little, Ben Jacobson, Yasin Kolo, and Dane Watts probably the most.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem, and then it’s a toss up
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
LeBron is number 2 behind Michael Jordan. And has the potential to go number 1 depending how he finishes out his career.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I think Garnett is the 2nd greatest power forward of all time behind Tim Duncan.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
That’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s one of the greatest performances I’ve witnessed. It’s definitely behind Wilt’s 100 and Kobe’s 81 point games but it’s top 5.
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?
Hands down. He’s doing something that has been done only once in league history. Leading the league in scoring as well as averaging his triple double. He is having a historic season and stat wise best in the game right now.
Draymond Greene recently had a triple double without scoring 10 points or more. Why do you believe has it taken long for someone to do this?
Because generally for players when they have the ability to score that’s always their number one focus. But for Draymond he doesn’t have a good ability to score so he’s able to focus on all the other aspects of his game which allowed him to have an unheard of triple double.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie that I saw was Bleed For This. It was really good.
Thanks Chris for the chat.