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Interviews
#1
www.euroleague.net Wrote:The Euroleague's top scorer all decade is remarkable, in part, because he is seldom thought of solely as a shooting star. A competitive spirit second to none has been the primary calling card of his 10-year Euroleague career, with team leadership and full-court intensity coming a close second and third. Just the same, Marcus Brown of Zalgiris Kaunas can shoot with the best of them, as he proved with incredible numbers that made him Euroleague Basketball's choice for MVP of December. Brown made an unheard-of 15 of 19 three-pointers this month, not to mention 13 more free throws without a miss, giving him a perfect 29 so far this season. The end result, three victories in as many games, left Zalgiris firmly among the Top 16 contenders from Group A. But as Brown says in this Euroleague.net interview, he and his team are far from finished in pursuit of their goals. "Nothing is over yet: We want to still continue trying to move up," Brown told Euroleague.net. "We're maturing - and we have already matured - but the process never stops."

Marcus, congratulations on being named December MVP. What is the team's mood after moving up to the middle of the Top 16 race in such a tough group?

"The mood is pretty good. We still have some work to do. We had a tough first leg of the regular season. We're into the second now, and things look better. We want to stay concentrated and stay focused. Nothing is over yet. We want to still continue trying to move up."

After a tough year with injuries, the last three games must have felt like old times for you, leading the entire Euroleague in scoring two weeks in a row?

"It always feels good to win and have that camaraderie with the guys on the team. I'm just proud of them. We had a couple of tough games where we weren't focused at the end, and for that reason we started off pretty bad. But we were able to get things going and in the last few weeks I was able to get hot. That helped lead the team in a positive direction."

Just before December, you once again became the top scorer in the Euroleague all decade. What does that distinction mean to you?

"There are a lot of great scorers who came before me who I am pretty sure scored a lot more, but I think that being the top scorer this decade is just a testament to my ability to adjust from country to country, coach to coach and system to system and still maintain the level of play, respect and integrity that it takes to succeed. Again, I feel blessed and thankful to be in this position and to enjoy basketball at this level. People may doubt, and that's fine, but at the end of the day, my expectations are always much higher than what other people expect."

The key win for Zalgiris in December was probably the first one, at home against Tau Ceramica. Did that game turn the tide after a slow start?

"In the Euroleague, what you always want do is protect your home court most of all and then get what you can on the road. We were playing well at home all season anyway, so we wanted to protect our court again by being aggressive, and I think it carried over from there, game by game. That win against Tau helped us get to a good spot."

In that game, you put the team on your back, taking all the big shots. What goes through your mind in those moments?

"You always try put yourself mentally in those positions and see yourself actually being successful in them. And then once you've done it a lot of times, that repetition helps. I was able to get into a rhythm, and guys were finding me in right spots. Our offensive execution was good, with guys cutting when necessary. And we were aggressive on defense. Our defense was our best offense and vice-versa. Even when we were missing shots, our transition defense - which had been one of our Achilles heels - had improved, so we didn't get hurt so much by misses. All that, together with good screens and DeJaun Collins getting me the ball in the right spots helped me get a rhythm going. Then it was just a question of reacting to each defender - some teams were going over screens after me, some going under and following - and adjusting correctly."

The next week, against Virtus Bologna, you scored your career high, 31 points. How did you keep it going?

"Any time a shooter gets hot, it's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to have as a player and no other player can do anything against you, really, when you get going like that. It felt like I could have made each shot with my eyes closed. I just hope it carries over now going into the new year."

Before the Virtus home game, there was a 50 Years of European Club Basketball ceremony dedicated to the history of Zalgiris. How did you feel watching that?

"If you look at the history of the European Cup and the Euroleague, you see guys like Kukoc, Sabonis, Belov and others. It's a great thing to pay homage to the past because it can help a lot of European players today become students of the game and realize what all those guys who came before them accomplished. It's always great to learn, to know history. And with the Zalgiris fans, who gave lot of energy and atmosphere as always, that made it a great night."

You finished December with the team's first road win, at Prokom. How important, psychologically, was that?

"I think it gives you a sense that later on, trying to get to the Top 16, then playing in February and March, we'll be battle tested. Just like you learn from mistakes, you learn from wins, too. Knowing what you need to do to execute down the stretch wins ballgames. Good teams do that. We're maturing - and we have already matured - but the process never stops. We just want to try to continue in a positive way, sharing the ball, understanding sacrifice. Sometimes, it's not your day, your shot's not on or whatever, but you can still contribute. A team can't have 12 scorers."

You played with Arvydas Sabonis in the NBA one season. What convinced you to join Zalgiris, his club, last summer?

"I felt he understood my situation. When he was struggling with his knee injury, people gave up on him and said he couldn't move anymore. I think he knew what it felt like to have people doubt you and be against you. I am blessed to be able to bounce back from such a severe injury as I had. For him to give me a chance to come back and show people who said I should retire or I was finished and couldn't come back means a lot to me. It was pathetic to hear those things, but I am not out there to prove anyone wrong. I am just out there to play basketball."

As someone who has played with top clubs throughout Europe, is there something special about basketball in Lithuania?

"It's one of the hidden gems in the Euroleague as far as fan support goes. Even on the road, we always get fans from Zalgirs. There really are intense rivalries here, but the fan support here is very respectful. I played here four or five times as an opponent, too, and I have never seen anyone throwing things or any negative activity, really. It's all supportive, them cheering for their team, and the atmosphere and energy is great, really great. It's something to hold onto and be a part of. Hopefully, in time, they will get a new arena here and have the chance to put even more fans inside. With the atmosphere we already have, that would be phenomenal."

Brown was great during last few weeks. It is good to see him playing top class basketball again after a slow start. There's no doubt that it would be very difficult to maintain such a good form but hopefully he can avoid his form dropping seriously.
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#2
Quote:Arguably the most unexpected star to emerge from the Euroleague regular season was super-efficient big man Marijonas Petravicius of Lietuvos Rytas. Making his Euroleague debut at 28 years old, Petravicius is matching the best numbers of his career. Simply put, he has become the surest inside scoring force in the competition, averaging 14 points exclusively on two-pointers and free throws, both of which he makes at a rate of 72.6%. With solid rebounding added in, Petravicius is ranked eighth in performance index rating among all players entering the Top 16. His team, of course, won its regular season group, but as Petravicius says in this Euroleague.net interview, he and Lietuvos Rytas have more to prove now. Like everyone else, we have no wins and no losses, which is really starting from zero. We're excited but at the same time we realize that even if we had a good regular season, we haven't accomplished anything yet."

Congratulations on a great season so far, Marijonas. What is the mood of Lietuvos Rytas going into the Top 16? Are there higher expectations based on the team's regular season success?

"Of course, we're in good mood after finishing number one in our group. At same time, it's still too early to celebrate a good season or anything like that, because nothing's done yet. Now, we have to start again in the Top 16. Like everyone else, we have no wins and no losses, which is really starting from zero. We're excited but at the same time we realize that even if we had a good regular season, we haven't accomplished anything yet."

What is your opinion of the Top 16 opponents you will be facing: Tau, Fenerbahce and Aris?

"I think Tau is a very strong team. We saw them, because they were in the same group with Zalgiris in the first round. I haven't seen Fenerbahce play, so that's the team I know the least about. Of course we played against Aris twice already. It's an advantage to know a team like that, but it's the same advantage for them against you. In terms of the big men we'll face, I think Tau Ceramica has very good big guys at both positions. I've played before against Splitter and McDonald, and Mirza Teletovic was my teammate in Belgium. They are going to be a major challenge. Aris has different big guys than Tau, more mobile and athletic, but not with so much size. Fenerbahce, I know, has a lot of young guys playing inside, and they will be the biggest unknown for us."

Your team in general, and the frontcourt in particular, needs to overcome the injury to Matt Nielsen, one of the most versatile forwards in the Euroleague. How will you guys do that?

"Of course, we’re going to miss Matt. He brings in energy, he rebounds and he does the little things you can't see in stats, but all teammates know about what he's getting done. We brought in a new player, Jackson Vroman, and hopefully he'll replace Matt in a similar way because he's also athletic enough to run the court, rebound and defend."

If someone had told you before it started you were going to be a top-rated player on a first-place team at the end of the regular season, would you have believed them?

"Yeah, it would have been hard to believe. Last season was different for us, because we had three coaching changes. A lot of players on our team couldn't get a good fit in the game with so much change. So looking at last year would have made it hard to believe going into this one. But as I kept saying all through this regular season, how well I did had a lot to do with my teammates. We really concentrate on playing team basketball. Many of the passes I get on fastbreaks and on pick-and-rolls are certainly not a one-person job."

This has been something of a breakout season for you, hasn't it? What are the ingredients of this turnaround?

"This summer, I worked out a lot individually. Also, I think our coach trusts me, and I feel that trust. I guess I just try to work 100 percent and, as our coach keeps saying, if we make mistakes while trying hard, nothing is wrong. So, I think that a lot of hard work is paying off.

You went to study and play in the United States at a time when Lithuanian basketball was debating if that was the right road for young players. Did it work out in your case?

"I think so. I try not to look backward in my life, to see what could have been better. But I am still happy with my decision. I got a good education in the States. I also think that for big guy, the States is a good place to learn a more of a post-up, physical style of play. I am not a three-point shooter, so my advantage is more inside, so it helped me to learn there and I am happy I went."

After you're first pro season, winning the FIBA Europe Cup as the final MVP for Mitteldeutscher of Germany, did things go the way you expected?

"Well, I had a few big injuries that required major surgery and slowed me down. One of those was in my last year at university, with a torn ACL ligament. It was hard in the beginning to come back to Europe after that injury. I thought it would be easy to adjust, but after five years in the States, it was hard re-adjusting to a different kind of basketball. They I had a torn ligament in one heel, which delayed me a bit more. But after those adjustments, things started coming together more for me."

Did you always want to return to Lithuania, or did the call from Lietuvos Rytas surprise you?

"Coming back from the States, I just wanted top play basketball in Europe, not necessarily in Lithuania. Of course, it was very nice when it happened to play in my home country, and to have family and friends around. But I didn't expect it. After I played a year at Ventspils in Latvia, the call came from Lietuvos Rytas, and I was happy to return."

This season, you were reunited with an old university teammate, Chuck Eidson. Did you recruit him to Lietuvos Rytas?

"It went both ways, actually, because I was here on a one-year contract and I was negotiating to re-sign last summer, at the same time that they were recruiting him. So we talked a lot together before we both signed, because he didn't know much about Lithuania. We both kind of knew in the end that we would sign, but it was nice encouragement for each of us to talk about it first with the other."

You turned 28 this season and became a discovery for some people. How does this big season you're having change things for you?

"I still have a contract for one more year here in Lietuvos Rytas, and even then I don't try to think ahead too much. I had things happen already in my life and my career that show you can't plan ahead too much in sports. So I'll just concentrate on finishing this season well. Hopefully, we can do that. It seems like we've accomplished big things, but we have a lot left to do."
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#3
We are proud to present our first player interview: Mamadou N'Diaye interview
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#4
Mamadou Great player,getting better and better in zalgiris Smile Thup
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#5
We have another interview coming from a Euroleague person coming soon Cool You can start guessing who it will be Smile
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#6
(04-03-2008, 04:09 PM)Vilius Wrote: We have another interview coming from a Euroleague person coming soon Cool You can start guessing who it will be Smile

Give us, more information about... Tongue
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#7
(04-03-2008, 09:15 PM)Rivers7 Wrote: Give us, more infos about... Tongue

He has been involved in an Olympiakos announcement lately... Wink
Respect and thanks for everything:

Alvertis, Bodiroga, Jasikevicius, Radja, Wilkins, Vrankovic, Fotsis, Rebraca, Kattash, Gentile, Koch, Middleton, Kutluay, Rogers, Papadopoulos, Becirovic, Tomasevic, Siskauskas, Pekovic, Lakovic, Vujanic, Chatzivrettas, Maljkovic, Spanoulis and many more to follow in the near future.
[Image: vspa.jpg]

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#8
(04-03-2008, 09:20 PM)Black Urum Wrote: He has been involved in an Olympiakos announcement lately... Wink

He's American or European ?

Marc Jackson for example ? Cool
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#9
(04-03-2008, 09:23 PM)Rivers7 Wrote: He's American or European ?

Marc Jackson for example ? Cool

Be patient... Wink He is European, and not Marc Jackson.
Respect and thanks for everything:

Alvertis, Bodiroga, Jasikevicius, Radja, Wilkins, Vrankovic, Fotsis, Rebraca, Kattash, Gentile, Koch, Middleton, Kutluay, Rogers, Papadopoulos, Becirovic, Tomasevic, Siskauskas, Pekovic, Lakovic, Vujanic, Chatzivrettas, Maljkovic, Spanoulis and many more to follow in the near future.
[Image: vspa.jpg]

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#10
(04-03-2008, 09:40 PM)Black Urum Wrote: Be patient... Wink He is European, and not Marc Jackson.

Ok! Cheers! Smile
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