Chauncey Billups supports Jusuf Nurkic in EuroBasket, praises international game

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2022-09-02 16:42

The Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups enjoys his trip to Germany and supports the NBA players' idea to suit up for the national teams.

Credit: USA Today Sports - Scanpix
Credit USA Today Sports - Scanpix

One guest at the Bosnia & Herzegovina practice drew a lot of attention on a casual day off afternoon in Cologne.

He was sitting close to the national team coaches and was the first who Jusuf Nurkic approached after the practice at Lanxess arena.

That was the Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who came to Germany to visit his center and watch him in three EuroBasket 2022 games.

Jusuf Nurkic

Jusuf  Nurkic
Position: PF, C
Age: 28
Height: 212 cm
Weight: 127 kg
Birth place: Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"I came here to support my guy Bosnian Beast, big Nurk," a former NBA champion smiled.

"Happy to be here and support the team. They're a really good, well-coached team. Obviously, a big win in the first game. And the next two games will be challenging since there are a lot of good players in Germany and obviously Slovenia. But this team is playing really well.

"The chemistry here is really good. Nurkic is so big, strong, and tough to handle. They have a very good chance," Billups said of Bosnians' chances to qualify to the EuroBasket Round of 16.

It will not be easy to squeeze into the top four since the other four main contenders in the group of death, Slovenia, France, Lithuania, and Germany, have even more NBA players on their rosters.

Luka Doncic, Goran Dragic, Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Domantas Sabonis, and Jonas Valanciunas headline Bosnia and Herzegovina opponents.

45-year-old EuroBasket guest enjoys watching so many NBA players representing their countries. He also supported the idea of seeing Jusuf Nurkic suiting up for Bosnia and Herzegovina in a big FIBA tournament.

"There are so many European players in our league, and they take great pride in coming home and playing for their country. I think it's a beautiful thing. It's good to see so many guys there," Billups said.

"I like when players just play. Many guys just work out in summertime with personal trainers and work on the court. That's okay, but I would rather get to play. Even the guys who are not here, I want them home playing against really good players. I love to see guys go on the international teams. Because you're playing the right way with the purpose and obviously because of that experience, you will be in shape," Billups concluded.

2004 NBA Finals MVP also was known as a brilliant team-first point guard.

BasketNews asked him about the most intelligent international guards he played with or against in his career.

"I loved to play an all-around game. But I think every international guard plays that way," Billups smiled.

"They're taught the game the right way growing up. There are so many. Obviously, in my era, we had Manu Ginobili. He's not European, but the way those guys played... Like Tony Paker. They played the way that I believe the game should be played."

BasketNews also asked him about the coaches he follows the most in Europe.

"There is no one person, but I really enjoy and have incredible respect for the European game and how it is played. It's played very physically. It's played from the neck up, as I call it. It's a very smart game. A lot of passing, movement, back doors, and great shooting," Billups praised the European basketball school.

"I think you guys have a wonderful way of playing the game of basketball, and I've enjoyed it," the coach added. "As a coach, I really like watching it now. Because I learn so much with so many good plays and different actions. It's just a great game."

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