Mike Smith (198-G-87, college: E.Tenn.St.) is a 25 year old 198cm forward from Vandalia, Missouri that was under contract with the Iowa Energy, but injured himself in training camp. Last season as a rookie he played the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven playing 34 games: 8.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 85.4%. He played at E. Tennessee from 2007-2011. In his senior year, he played 35 games: 17.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 78.9%. In the summer 2011, he took part at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 10.0ppg, 8.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, 1.0bpg. He was a A-Sun Tournament Winner -09, 10, and All-A-Sun Player of the Year -11. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball.
Mike thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. After a solid rookie season in Germany, you have had a lot of misfortune this season. How tough has this season been for you? It has been extremely tough, anytime you put so much effort and hard work into the game and end up with an injury really stinks. But I have had a good supporting cast through this whole process to make thinks a little easier.
You broke your hand in the second week of training camp with the Iowa Energy. How was that training camp going for you before you broke your hand?
Training camp was going really well for me, I was playing at a very high level. Shooting the ball probably the best I have ever while continuing to rebound and do all of the little things.
How was the rehab? Was that your first real serious injury in your young career?
Rehab went really well, I worked with a hand specialist for 7 weeks to get my hand back to 100%. This has been my first real serious injury in my career
How tough was this time for you the last months. How did you stay focused during rehab?
It has been extremely tough, but I know things happen for a reason and something good will come out of this situation. I have had a lot of support during this time and keeping my faith in God has been a huge help! It was easy to keep my focus during rehab because I knew this was something I had to take serious to get back to the game I love.
The Iowa Energy have really been struggling at 7-25. Would you have thought in training camp that they would be struggling so much?
I would have not thought they would be struggling, we had a good group of guys in there with the same mind set to win games. It was a surprise to me to see them struggle this much.
How would you have seen your chances of getting playing time for them had you been fit? They have many talented players there? I felt I would of been a great fit for this program and definitely helped them in all aspects of the game.
After a solid rookie season with Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): 34 games: 8.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 85.4%, you didnt return? Was there any talks with Doug Spradley as to what the status was for you to return? Yes I spoke with Doug several time about my return to Bremerhaven. Things just didn't work out for me.
Would you like to have returned back to Germany? Was the job market so tough last summer that you decided to try the D-league?
Yea I would have loved to return to Germany, great basketball, amazing fans, and a beautiful country!
You scored in double figures 17 times for a team that had good scorers. How happy were you with your rookie season?
It was a solid rookie season for myself, I felt that I could have done a lot more. The beginning of the season started slow playing behind former All-Star Torrell Martin, but when that chance came for me to play I had to make the most out of it and I thought I did well.
What was your best game? I remember you scoring 19 points against the Brose Baskets Bamberg.
Yea I had a couple nice games, 20 points against Braunschweig, 19 against Oldenburg, then 19 on Bamburg.
Who was the best player that you played against last season in the Beko BBL?
Terrell Everett is back with Bremerhaven. He is a very versatile player. What was the most important thing that you could learn from him? The most important thing I learned from Terrell would be to play hard every second, no possessions off.
You are fit now and would like to be added to a team for the stretch run. Why could you help any team in the Beko BBL now? I see myself as a big guard at 6'6" that is very versatile, Can shoot very well, take you off the dribble, post up, rebound and defend. I would definitely be an asset to any team right now.
What have you missed from Germany and what would you like to see in Germany soon again? Thing I have missed most about Germany would be the fans, I love playing in those types of environments that the BBL has to offer every game!
19-year old Latvia power forward Roberts Blumbergs (207-93kg-97) left newly promoted SC Rasta Vechta (BBL) from The last season Blumbergs played at Artland Dragons (ProB) where in 14 games he averaged just 2.0ppg and 1.7rpg. He was selected to NBBL All-Star Game in 2016. Blumbergs represented Latvia at the European Championships U18 in Volos (Greece) last year. His stats at that event were 9 games: 5.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 58.8%. Blumbergs has played previously... [read more]
19-year old Latvia power forward Roberts Blumbergs (207-93kg-97) left newly promoted SC Rasta Vechta (BBL) from The last season Blumbergs played at Artland Dragons (ProB) where in 14 games he averaged just 2.0ppg and 1.7rpg. He was selected to NBBL All-Star Game in 2016. Blumbergs represented Latvia at the European Championships U18 in Volos (Greece) last year. His stats at that event were 9 games: 5.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 58.8%. Blumbergs has played previously professionally also in Latvia (Ventspils Augstskola) and Germany (Quakenbrueck and Young Dragons).
Brandon Jefferson(175-PG-91, college: Metro St.) is a 25 year old 175cm point guard from Flower Mound, Texas that is playing his third professional season and first with Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM). As a rookie he played for KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 48 games: Score-4 (18.5ppg), 4.0rpg, 2.4apg, Steals-2 (2.2spg), FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 88.0%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 13.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 37.5%, 3PT: 29.8%, FT: 88.5%. He starte... [read more]
Brandon Jefferson (175-PG-91, college: Metro St.) is a 25 year old 175cm point guard from Flower Mound, Texas that is playing his third professional season and first with Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM). As a rookie he played for KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 48 games: Score-4 (18.5ppg), 4.0rpg, 2.4apg, Steals-2 (2.2spg), FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 88.0%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 13.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 37.5%, 3PT: 29.8%, FT: 88.5%. He started his basketball career in 2010 for Metro State (NCAA2) where he played a total of 129 NCAA games. In college he was able to improve his scoring and rebounding average each season. As a senior he played 34 games averaging 21.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.4apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 45.3%, FT: 92.3%. Last season he played for Phoenix Hagen (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games averaging 13.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 34.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 83.2%He spoke to eurobasket after the tough Eurocup loss to ratiopharm Ulm in Ulm.
Brandon thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. How did it feel to be back in Germany again with your new team Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM) playing Eurocup in Ulm? It felt great being back in Germany. Was very excited when I saw that Ulm was in our group for EuroCup because it meant I had the chance to go back to Germany.
Last season, you lost both games to ratiopharm Ulm with Phoenix Hagen by a combined score of 48 points and you scored combined only 11 points. Tonight you lost again, but it was a lot closer game 87-82. What was your opinion of the play of ratiopharm Ulm this season? They have many guys back and have good chemistry. Is the team better than last season? Yes I remember the result last year very well. Ulm embarrassed us last season twice. They are obviously a great team. They will a force to reckon with this year again in the BBL and EuroCup. I've been keeping up with their scores. They have added some really good players so I do believe they are better than their team last season.
Despite the loss, you had a great game scoring 28 points with eight three's. Last season in both games against ratiopharm Ulm, you shot only 1/12. Were you really motivated for this Eurocup game? I was very motivated for this game against Ulm. Like I said earlier, they embarrassed us last season, including me. Any competitor would be up for the challenge after someone has embarrassed them in the past.
The game was very tight in the first quarter, but Ulm was able to break away a bit in the second quarter to lead by 11 points, but Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM) fought back and trailed only 45-41 at the break. What was giving Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM) the biggest problems in the second quarter? We had a lot of turnovers and it starts with me. I've been really careless with the ball. Need to control the tempo better and get the all where it needs to be.
Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM) was down by as much as by 13 in the fourth quarter, but you staged a massive comeback ending the game on a 11-3 run sparked by your two three pointers, but time ran out. Did all the come-back runs that you made really weaken the team energy? We have a team of fighters. We will never give up during a game. It's all mental when it comes to being tired.
One could say that Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM) have had some serious misfortune so far as you have lost three of four games by one point. How have you handled this mentally in the early part of the season?
It's been tough losing these games by 1. Mistakes we need to clean up coming down the stretch of games have cost us. We are working every day to improve in those areas. We take the positive out of it though. We can't pout or feel sorry for ourselves. That's why it's good having all of these games. No time for any of that, have move forward and get ready for next opponent.
There are only two Americans on the team with you and Devin Oliver who also is in his third professional season. Do you have a special bond to him and do you miss somewhat that very experienced American that you could go to for advice?
Devin and I do have a bond. We are the same age trying to move forward in our careers. We are experienced in our short three year careers. We aren't rookies anymore, we need to figure things out and help one another.
Is your role overall a lot different this season than last season with Phoenix Hagen? Do you have to be more of a scoring point guard this season?
I just do whatever the team and the coaches ask me to do. I play my game.
How cool is it playing in three leagues this season with the Eurocup, ABA and Slovenian league? How important do you feel is this format for your development as a player in your third professional season? It's fun playing in 3 different leagues this season. A lot of exposure comes out of these leagues. It's a challenge every night. The BBL taught me a lot though. Last season was a huge learning experience for me that has helped me coming into this season.
Last season with Phoenix Hagen you averaged 13.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 34.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 83.2% in one of the top leagues in Europe. What do you feel did your game best playing in the BBL last season?
It showed me everything I needed to improve on. It exposed me in many ways that helped me moving forward. I'm forever grateful for the experience I got last season in BBL.
Your shooting 52% combined in the Eurocup and ABA leagues from downtown. Did you work extra hard and long last summer on your shooting or is your current hot streak due more to a current good run and shot selection?
I think it has a little bit to do with both. I know I was very inconsistent last season with my shot. I was taking a lot of bad shots which took my percentage down. Being smarter with my shot selection is something I learned playing in the BBL. Looking back on last season, I missed a lot of clean looks at the basket as well, so it was about knocking down shots at the end of the day.
Phoenix Hagen is having serious financial problems at the moment and their season could be cut short. How thankful are you that you are currently in a very good situation with Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Liga Nova KBM)?
I'm saddened by the news of my former team! Still close to David Bell and I know he will bounce back! I'm very thankful for this organization and situation with Union Olympija. Give all glory to God!
Kevin Garnett has retired. Where do you see his legacy and where he ranks with the all-time best to have ever played in the NBA? Never really been a big Kevin Garnett guy, but I do know what he has done for the game! He will go down as one of the greats.
What was the last movie that you saw? Captain America.
Sometimes a sudden cancellation can result in massive panic and disappointment, but when Northeastern decided not to participate on account of the summer terror attacks in Germany at the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour, the German basketball community didn't turn their head in another direction and pretend not to notice, but rather stuck together and helped keep the 2016 Basketball Aid International tour going and made it a huge success with entertaining basketball and continuing t... [read more]
Sometimes a sudden cancellation can result in massive panic and disappointment, but when Northeastern decided not to participate on account of the summer terror attacks in Germany at the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour, the German basketball community didn't turn their head in another direction and pretend not to notice, but rather stuck together and helped keep the 2016 Basketball Aid International tour going and made it a huge success with entertaining basketball and continuing to spread cancer awareness. Basketball Aid chairman Hans Beth had sympathy for the tough decision that Northeastern made for not coming and had total respect for their decision. Many German professional teams from the EasyCredit BBL, Pro A and Pro B leaped at the occasion of helping a great cause and jumped in taking the place of absent Northeastern and kept the games alive. Even the Luxemburg national team helped spread the sizzling international flair by playing one game in Luxemburg and a second in Hanau, Germany. With all the proceeds made from the 5 exhibition games and the four games at the Gezeiten Cup in Rhondorf going to aid stricken children with cancer, Basketball Aid chairman Hans Beth was able to confirm the proud amount of 30,000 euro.
The first game took place on the US Army base in Wiesbaden as one was dazzled by the beautiful state of the art gym that showcased every flag of the 52 States and the game between the Fraport Skyliners and RheinStars showed a symbol of the always positive German-American relations. Frankfurt won the game 77-59 as some saw a future possible NBA player in 16 year Isaac Bonga and tour chairman Hans Beth was awarded a medal of honor from Colonel Todd J. Fish for his support of German-American relations and volunteer work he does. "I wanted to present a token of our appreciation to Chairman Beth for bringing the game to our Soldiers, Families and civilians here at USAG Wiesbaden. It was a great game, and we really appreciate both teams coming out and putting on a wonderful event for our community."stated Colonel Todd J.Fish.In the second game, the term international was center stage as the tour went over the boarder to Luxemburg as their national team welcomed the Dresden Titans and head coach Steven Clauss who is a cosmopolitan himself as he grew up in New York, but has lived in Germany for over 20 years. German Pro A team Dresden won the contest 90-80 and the 1,400 kilometers traveling distance wasn't too much for the team as it was glad to help the basketball Aid cause. Only 48 hours later in game three, it was time for the Luxemburg national team to travel over the boarder to Hanau, a city 25 kilometers west of Frankfurt as they faced off against Pro A team the Hebeisen White Wings. The Hebeisen White Wings came to terms easier with the unbearable sauna like temperatures destroying Luxemburg 109-66 as ex Davidson (NCAA) guard Brian Sullivan scored 22 points as the only thing missing in his new living room were the Sulliiiiiiiiiiiii chants that he was used to in the Belk arena.
The fourth game took place in historic Mainz where BBL team Giessen 46ers took on Pro A team Gotha as the game was as much of a duel between the two teams as well as the two coaches of ex German national player Denis Wucherer and BBL legend Chris Ensminger. Both guys are fairly young coaches with this unbelievable will to win just like when they were lacing up their sneakers back in the day. Giessen came out on top after 40 minutes beating the ambitious Pro A team Gotha 86-70. Some interesting side notes to the day was that during the morning, there was a lecture by chairman Hans Beth about Basketball Aid and following that a round table at the Johannes Gutenberg university that had engrossing discussions between German and Chinese students. During halftime of the game, a golden basketball with all autographes of the German national basketball team was auctioned off that went for 800 euro. Game five took place in Paderborn as Pro A team Uni Baskets welcomed BBL team Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. Braunschweig had little difficulty of disposing of Paderborn 70-41. A second golden ball was auctioned off this time for 500 euro displaying autographes of the German national basketball team.
The climax of the Basketball Aid 2016 international tour took place in Rhondorf the sight of the Gezeiten Cup. A total of 5 teams took place with BBL teams ratiopharm Ulm, Telekom Baskets Bonn, Pro A team Hebeisen White Wings and Pro B teams Dragons Rhondorf and the Astrostars Bochum. Fans saw very interesting games during the weekend as the Saturday boasted the two most exciting games as in game one home team Dragons Rhondorf slipped by the AstroStars 70-68 and in game two in front of a sold out crowd of 1,400 fans, the Telekom Baskets Bonn who only had a 20 minute ride from Bonn and were seen as sort of a second home team defeated 2016 BBL finalist ratiopharm Ulm with 78-74. On the Sunday, fans witnessed two blow outs as in game one, the Telekom Baskets Bonn whipped out their farm team Dragons Rhondorf 79-54 and in game two ratiopharm Ulm had a field day with the Hebesien White Wings ousting them 82-46. Also during the weekend, the Basketball Aid tour put together a coaches clinic at castle Hagerhof that had 100 participants. The Basketball Aid international tour also had tour shirts for sale at each venue and sold 300 with it's proceeds also going to benefit children with cancer. Shirts are now still available online at www.forthree.com
All in all the 2016 Basketball Aid International tour was a big success spreading entertaining basketball and Cancer awareness. The biggest goal was to raise as much money as possible for children stricken with cancer and to continue to spread more awareness about cancer. It was refreshing to see how the German basketball community was able to stick together when the 2016 Basketball Aid International tour seemed stranded in no man's land and come together as quickly as a lightning bolt strikes and make the whole event continue. 30,000 euro was raised for Basketball Aid this summer and with the 2016 Basketball tour spreading basketball and cancer awareness so positively, one can only anticipate that Hans Beth and co will continue to keep this event alive and continue to let it grow. It will be interesting to see what the 2017 Basketball Aid international tour will offer. The game of basketball doesn't only reach the hearts of fans, but also the children effected by cancer as the community stands together in the fight against cancer.
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