Röportaj: Kemal Rutkay Özcan

Anadolu Efes hosts Barcelona Lassa on the eleventh matchday of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Before this highly-anticipated encounter, we did an exclusive interview with Barcelona’s star point guard Tyrese Rice.

How does playing for Barça and working under Bartzokas feel like? As a team, what’s your expectations for the season?

It’s a great honor. First of all, it’s because it’s one of the most storied, the biggest teams in the Europe. It’s one of the teams that you know, when you come to Europe. You started to watch them. It’s a place that you wanna go, a place that you want to elevate your game. Also, it’s definitely a great thing to be able to play for Bartzokas, who has won multiple championships and has led many teams into great situations, even when they were not supposed to be as good. He is just showing his greatness. It’s an honor to play for him.

In 2014, you’ve reached one of your career peaks -EuroLeague championship- with Maccabi and current Daçka coach David Blatt. What are the general contributions Blatt has made for your career?

Preparation. One thing that I really learned from him was preparation. I watched him every day, coming into the practices with a plan. And we did it exactly how he wanted it, day in and day out. So that was one of the biggest thing that I learned from him as a player and also as a man.

Last season, Khimki Moscow have gone through an underachieving campaign. Unlike 2014 at Maccabi or 2015 at Khimki, you have had to share the leading role with then-newcomer Aleksey Shved. Was this the reason behind the underachievement or was it something else?

We had a lot of stuff going on at the time. Coach changed; guys going in new roles, new guys coming in… It was a lot to adjust to. At the same time we had different personalities. That often can make things a little bit difficult, when you don’t get together as a unit at the right time. I think it took a while to get together but by the time we did, it was too late.

Foto: TrendBasket

You’ve been a part of a couple of Summer League teams but couldn’t get the contract from the NBA. Do you have any NBA dreams in the future?

I always have NBA dreams. I think any player that plays basketball has NBA dreams. If they had opportunity, they would take it. I’m always gonna keep that option open, keep that dream alive and see what happens.

How about Turkey? Would you be interested in playing?

I never thought about coming in Turkey. Actually I had some talks with some teams before. I’m always gonna keep my options open. If that’s the best situation, I would come in.

Foto: TrendBasket

Foto: TrendBasket

In Boston College, you’ve played with current NBA stars like Jared Dudley and Reggie Jackson, and with Rakim Sanders, an established EL player. Are you still in touch with them, following their games, especially NBA guys?

Yes. I talk to Dudley quite often actually. He comes to the States with me in the summer time. He comes to my camp to teach kids. We’re going trips and everything. I also talk to Rakim often; actually I talked to him yesterday. I don’t talk to Reggie as much, as I did with the other guys (he played only one year at Boston College). We’re all in touch though.

Last month, Dentmon and Russ were excluded from Galatasaray and you reacted against that via Twitter. Now, one of those “two grown men”, Dentmon parted ways with GS, while Russ is still around. Any further comments on this?

It ain’t my team; I dont care about them (Laughing). They gotta take care of their own business.

What if something like that happens in Barcelona. How would you react then?

I don’t think it would happen. That kind of stuff should not get out to the media. Other stuff that other people shouldn’t be aware of… They made a decision and they’re going to do something. It is on them. If it is a problem, you will suffer consequences.

Kemal Rutkay Özcan

İletişim: kemalrutkayozcan@gmail.com Twitter: krutkayozcan


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