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Euroleague Interview: Justin Dentmon Of Zalgiris

Before the start of 13-14 season, Zalgiris had a limited budget to find a guard who could do it all - score, pass and guide the club in Euroleague. Zalgiris chose Justin Dentmon to lead the team to the Euroleague Top 16 stage and after few months it was obvious that the 28-year-old guard was a perfect fit for the extreme situation with Kaunas.

Dentmon didn’t blossom into an elite Euroleague point guard until a coaching change happened and Saulius Stombergas replaced Ilias Zouros. After that, Dentmon received a green light and complete freedom, which helped him become one of the best scorers in the league. Dentmon currently ranks second in scoring in Euroleague with 16.5 points per game, as he also averages 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

RealGM caught up with Dentmon in Panevezys, Lithuania during the Lithuanian cup Final Four event to talk about the current crisis in Zalgiris, his personal game, life in Kaunas and more. 

RealGM: First of all, what goes through your mind when you think about the seven months you spent in Lithuania?

Dentmon: With the first coach, he really tried to control me. I didn’t play well at that time and I almost left. Then coaching changes happened and the rhythm was good, but now we’re going downhill fast and I don’t know why. I’m out of the rhythm and to be honest, I have no idea what’s going on. But the beginning was rough and then it got better. It’s been a good seven months, but now we’re going downhill fast.

RealGM: Were you surprised about the coaching changes and Ilias Zouros' departure, which happened early this season? The main reason of was not giving enough playing time for young players.

Dentmon: If you want to win Euroleague games, you need play your veterans and guys with experience, talent that can play. And in the Lithuanian championship (LKL), you can use your young guys so they could prove they can play. I think that’s what he was doing here. There were misunderstandings and the team was losing. It’s a business and Zalgiris had to make a business move.

RealGM: The level of players on Zalgiris this season is very diverse. Some of the players are national team caliber guys, while some of them struggle to play in the LKL. How difficult for you is it to compete with others when some of your teammates are far away from their opponents in terms of talent?

Dentmon: It is very difficult and it is very different from the United States. The mentality is different and sometimes it’s difficult to explain. If you’re a professional athlete, you have to know how to motivate yourself and nobody should tell you about that. And it seems that sometimes we need to motivate our guys, which shouldn’t be a case. The excuse is always that they are young. When I was young, I had stuff to prove, to be better than the next person. I think that’s how young guys should take it; they should want to prove that they are better than other guys. Guys on other teams are looking at our guys like 'we can be better than you'. I think they should take it as a challenge and they should take it seriously.

RealGM: The situation in Zalgiris gave you lots of opportunities as well. Do you think Kaunas was a great place to showcase yourself?

Dentmon: All my hard work paid off, but I want to finish strong. Being the only American on a Euroleague Top 16 team, it feels like I’m doing too much work. I think it should be easier if you have a guard like me, you would want to make things easier for me. In other teams, they make it easier for their scorers. We struggle with our roles; we don’t know who plays what role. I’m trying to do the best I can, showcase myself and I also want to win the Lithuanian championship.

RealGM: Very often you seem to be frustrated with the calls you get or you would like to get from the referees. Does that cause any trouble for you to keep your focus on the game?

Dentmon: Mentally, it’s very difficult. Especially, when they see that and they don’t saying anything. They say that I’m a rookie, but that doesn’t mean anything. If you see a charge, call a foul. That’s really frustrating, when refs see it and they say nothing. When other defender feels that he can grab me, he does it. It’s not like I'm out my game, but I think 'what can I do? There’s nothing I can do about it'. They throw me off my rhythm in offence. Some of responsibility is on me, but most of it is on coaches because they have to figure out different strategy. We need to find stuff that would help us.

RealGM: You’re one of few players in Europe who whenever get fouled, always try to take a shot and get to the free throw line. It doesn’t matter is it inside the key or it’s the half court. Where did you learn that?

Dentmon: I always do that! I got that from Chris Paul. We have the Hack-a-Shaq thing in the U.S., so whenever somebody tries to foul Chris Paul, he takes a shot. So I’m always thinking, if they are going to foul me, I will shoot and get three free throw shots. Like I said, I got it from Chris Paul. Someday, they will give me a call and they will award me with three free throw shots. They don’t call it enough and they don’t want to give it to me yet, but I will keep doing it.

RealGM: Talking about your life in Kaunas, I heard that at first you had a hard time adapting there. With the time, did it get any better?

Dentmon: It was very tough. Now it got much better, I have my man Mindaugas (who works for Zalgiris). I know places where I can eat, so it is much easier. Going to shopping mall and playing video games on Xbox keeps my mind off basketball. Overall, now living in Kaunas is much easier for me.

Euroleague Interview: Malcolm Delaney Of Bayern Munich

Despite being only 24 years old, Malcolm Delaney of Bayern Munich quickly became one of the leading scorers in Euroleague in his debut season. Last summer, Delaney joined Bayern, which is best known for its soccer program, but the guard says that Bayern is serious about becoming an elite Euroleague team as they are in the UEFA Champions League.

Delaney is currently the sixth best scorer in the Euroleague, averaging 14.9 points (44 percent 3FG), 2.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game after Week 3 of Euroleague Top 16. The former Virginia Tech standout posted season-high 22 points twice against both last season’s Euroleague finalists, Real Madrid and Olympiakos Piraeus.

RealGM caught up with Delaney in Europe to talk about Bayern’s performance in the Euroleague, team’s affiliation with the soccer program, his future plans and much more.

RealGM: Bayern started the second round with a huge away win in Kaunas and are off to a good start in Top 16.

Delaney: That was a huge win for us. We went on a streak last round, we lost many games and we finished on a good win. At that time we didn’t play well in the German basketball league. We practiced really hard and coming out of win like that was huge for us. When we take teams out of what they are comfortable doing, it becomes tough for them.

RealGM: Talking about the regular season, Bayern had a strong 3-1 start and then lost five games in a row. How did that happen?

Delaney: It’s our first year in Euroleague. At first we won 13 out of 14 German basketball league games. The first round was tough. We lost to Olympiakos in a game that I thought we should have won. Also, we led Stelmet Zielona Gora at halftime and we just didn’t play well in the second half. We weren’t playing our best basketball at that time, but we showed that we can play with everybody. In the second game against Olympiakos, we had a lead, we played the toughest we could and then they won the game in the last nine seconds. But that was last year, now we’re on a fresh start. We have many good teams and couple great teams in this stage, therefore hopefully we could sneak in and get some wins. We’re pretty comfortable.

RealGM: Before moving to Germany, you’ve played in France and Ukraine in your first years in Europe. Could you compare the places that you’ve live?

Delaney: France and Germany are similar. The style of play is pretty similar as well. The economy and financial situation is the same. People don’t have to worry about the bad part of the business. It’s pretty equal, while Ukraine is pretty tough. Traveling, long bus rides. But I was on a good team, we played in Eurocup and I lived in Kyiv. I have no complaints.

RealGM: This year you’re a part of massive sports organization. Do you feel that Bayern Munich is much bigger than only a basketball team?

Delaney: For me, this is my first year really being a part of something like this. Before that, I heard the name, but I didn’t know how big the name was until I came here. Football (soccer) players showed us support and we have a family atmosphere here. Everybody in Bayern is so close. We play well because of that. In some organizations, people don’t talk to you and they are strictly about winning or losing games. Here is more than that; it’s not only about winning or losing. They make sure we take care and we are healthy and everything possibly to help us play the best that we can.

RealGM: Before moving to Germany, did you know anything about soccer?

Delaney: In the last couple years I was in the cities where soccer was not too big, while this year I watched about four games. I still don’t really understand it. But it’s fun, especially when you know how big it is. And even when we play on the road, fans hate us because our soccer team is really good. But we’re working to get our name up there. 

RealGM: Do you think that Bayern is serious about Euroleague and they could stay there for years?

Delaney: After they got invited to Euroleague, and we’ve been talking about it, they seem to be very dedicated to basketball. It’s their third year in the German top division. I think it’s going to take two or three years to develop and get those type of big players. Of course, if we can stick together and play well together because we like each other. I think in a couple of years we could be one of those high-level Euroleague teams.

RealGM: Do you see yourself staying in Germany in the future?

Delaney: It’s all about how comfortable I am and right now I feel very comfortable with the guys, coach, great general manager. Like I said, they take care of us. I haven’t been thinking about it, I was more focusing on the games, but I’m sure in a near future we will be talking about that kind of stuff. If everything is right and set in places, I would love to stay because it’s great here.

Europe Interview: Luke Harangody Of Unics Kazan

Former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody is having his first taste of European basketball this season. Last summer the 6-foot-7 forward has started his career outside the U.S. by signing a contract with Unics Kazan and making Russia his first stop overseas.

In first 11 games with Unics, Harangody’s playing time was limited as he averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 16 minutes per game. However, Harangody’s role has been increasing as he has been a starting power forward in last eight games. Harangody also put his best performance so far this season in last match against VEF Riga, where he scored 16 points, grabbed seven boards and dished out tree assists.

RealGM caught up with Harangody to talk about his experience in Russia, playing under foreigner coach, NBA and more.

RealGM: First of all, what are your first impressions of Russia and Unics Kazan? Which things are different than you expected?

Harangody: My first impression is I love the city I’m in. It’s been a great experience so far. To be out of my element has been interesting, to see a new culture. As far as the team, I couldn’t ask for better teammates. It’s made the transition easier. It’s a great group to play with overseas.

RealGM: It is probably the first time you’re playing under a non-American coach (Andrea Trinchieri). Could you name a few differences between the U.S. and European coaching?

Harangody: Yes, this would be the first time I’ve played under an international coach. I think the approach to the game is much different in the U.S. There’s some things I’ve learned, just fundamentally. It’s a lot slower of a pace. It’s more of a chess game in Europe.

RealGM: Andrew Goudelock has also made his debut in Europe. Is it easier when there’s an American player who is pretty much sitting in the same boat with you?

Harangody: Yes. Having Andrew and also two other Americans on the team to lean on has made the transition a lot easier because they’ve gone through the whole transition.

RealGM: There’s another American on your team, Chuck Eidson, who’s been playing in Europe for ten years. Did you get any advice from him in terms of living and playing basketball in Europe?

Harangody: Yeah, Chuck’s been great. He’s a veteran so he’s seen it all, so any questions I have I go to him for it. He’s what you’d expect from a veteran leader. Whether on the court or off the court he’s been amazing.

RealGM: How did you choose your first team in Europe? Did you have any other options?

Harangody: I had about three options, but my agent and myself decided this is the best opportunity competition-wise for my first experience overseas.

RealGM: Talking about your NBA career, what are your best memories from Boston and Cleveland?

Harangody: I think a few of my best memories from my first year in the league was how exciting and new it was and realizing a dream and just taking it all in. It was surreal for me. I’ll always be able to look back on that experience and have good memories.

RealGM: During your time in the NBA, you’ve been assigned to the D-League for a few times. Could you take us through the process of what goes through players’ mind when this happens? 

Harangody: Any time a player gets sent down it’s always looked at as a negative, but in my case I tried to take it in stride, showcase my skills and it was a chance to play more. I’d give the same advice to anyone who’s going down there - to take advantage of the opportunity to play and be as successful as you can.

RealGM: After being waived by the Cavaliers, why did you decide to spend a season in the D-League instead of going to Europe straightaway?

Harangody: I think going to the D-League was the best bet for me. I felt more comfortable staying in the U.S. Looking back on it, it was the right decision. I needed to get healthy. That was the biggest goal for the season.

RealGM: Is playing in Europe something you would like to continue doing on your upcoming career years, or will you be attempting to get back to the NBA?

Harangody: That’s yet to be said. I’m enjoying playing in Europe. It’s a new experience. I’m making the most of the experience as I can. I can easily see myself making a career over here.

RealGM: What are your individual expectations for this season and also what goals do you want to achieve as a team with Unics?

Harangody: Basically coming over here, it’s been a transition. I’m still learning the European game and figuring out a couple of things individually. I’m just trying to be a part of the team. I know it sounds cliché but for the first couple of years over here that’s as much as I can do.

Euroleague Power Rankings (Mid-December Edition)

With less than two weeks remaining until the end of its regular season, RealGM presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked all 24 teams' performance over their first eight games and their perspective for the next rounds.

Euroleague Interview: Alexis Ajinca Of Strasbourg IG

RealGM spoke with Alexis Ajinca to talk about the restart of his career, his plans to get back to the NBA, France's national team and much more.

Euroleague Power Rankings For Mid-November

Fenerbahce Ulker, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Anadolu Efes and CSKA are at the top of RealGM's Euroleague rankings.

Euroleague Power Rankings (End Of October Edition)

While Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos are at the top of the table and our rankings, Alexis Ajinca has been playing like an MVP candidate.

Europe Interview: Jeremy Pargo Of CSKA

RealGM caught up with Jeremy Pargo to talk about his time in the NBA, his decision to join CSKA, the upcoming season in Russia and more.

The Euroleague Elite 50-40-90 Club

Nikola Mirotic, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Trajan Langdon are amongst the Euroleague players that have shot better than 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line.

Europe Interview: Deon Thompson Of Alba Berlin

RealGM recently caught up with Deon Thompson to discuss his success in Europe, his game improvement and plans to make it to the NBA.

Euroleague Interview: Ettore Messina Of CSKA

RealGM sat down with Ettore Messina in London to talk about what the future holds for CSKA, the Euroleague Final Four format, Viktor Khryapa and things that money can't buy.

Euroleague Interview: President Jordi Bertomeu

RealGM sat down with Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu to discuss the 2012-13 season, the new format of the competition, its biggest problems and the future of Euroleague.

Europe Interview: Nemanja Nedovic Of Lietuvos Rytas

RealGM sat down with Nemanja Nedovic in Vilnius to talk about his first season with Lietuvos Rytas, development in the Euroleague, his NBA dream and much more.

The Euroleague MVP Race

Bobby Brown, Viktor Khryapa, Vassilis Spanoulis, Rudy Fernandez, Nenad Krstic, Jordan Farmar, Sonny Weems and Ante Tomic are all candidates to win the Euroleague MVP this season.

Europe Interview: Josh Powell Of Olympiacos

RealGM caught up with Josh Powell in Greece for a one-on-one interview to discuss his new team Olympiacos, Euroleague, his career in the NBA, Lakers and much more.

Europe Interview: Dontaye Draper Of Real Madrid

Over the past couple of season Dontaye Draper has established himself in Europe as a pass-first type Euroleague point guard with excellent scoring skills.

Euroleague Power Rankings: Centers

Nikola Mirotic, Nenad Krstic, Erazem Lorbek, Ioannis Bourousis, Darjus Lavrinovic, Sofoklis Schorstanitis and David Andersen are amongst the best centers in Euroleague.

Euroleague Power Rankings: Power Forwards

Viktor Khryapa, Georgios Printezis, Felipe Reyes, Paulius Jankunas, Marcus Slaughter and Mike Batiste are amongst the best power forwards in Euroleague this season.

The Rise Of Zalgiris

Getting back to the roots of European hoops - slow-paced, efficient positional basketball has brought success to Zalgiris

Kirilenko's NBA Departure And Return

Andrei Kirilenko talks to RealGM about his experience with CSKA, winning the bronze in London, the impact of Mikhail Prokhorov on the Russian game and his initial days with the Wolves.

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