Kevarrius Hayes discusses upcoming duel with Moustapha Fall, experience in Bursa

Tomas Vanagas
Staff Writer
2022-10-14 09:14

Kevarrius Hayes emphasized Moustapha Fall's huge improvement since playing for ASVEL in 2020-21.

Credit: BNS, BC Olympiacos

Kevarrius Hayes was the first player who pretended to take over the No. 13 following Zalgiris legend Paulius Jankunas' retirement from professional basketball. However, the American big man could not get his favorite number, as it is untouchable in the Lithuanian powerhouse.

The 25-year-old Hayes wore the number 13 jersey playing for the University of Florida, Cantu, ASVEL, and Bursaspor.

In Zalgiris, this number belongs to Jankunas, who will have his jersey retired during the first EuroLeague home match next week.

Hayes had to find a solution. He decided to choose the number worn by the late Kobe Bryant. This number also coincided with the birthday of Hayes' significant other. That's the No. 8.

"Sometimes it just happens, so I was ready for it," Hayes told BasketNews about the number change. "I was hoping to keep my jersey number as long as I could, but 8 is also a good number. I said to Jankunas, couldn't he keep this number for me for at least one more year (laughs)."

Credit AFP - Scanpix

Hayes started his professional path in Italy, representing Cantu in the 2019-20 season. Asked about the biggest differences between then and now, he responded by emphasizing patience.

"Many similarities, for example, I still play with the highest energy. However, now I have more skills, I am a more patient basketball player, and I am more focused on the flow of the match and on how everything is going."

Last season Hayes excelled in Bursa, averaging 9.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 13.6 PIR over 22 EuroCup matches. Meanwhile, the Turkish team surprised the European basketball community by advancing to the grand final.

"Last season I realized how I have to play in the highest level matches," he responded to a question about his readiness for a return to the EuroLeague. "I was one of the most important players in Bursa. I had a huge responsibility, and we ended up going to the final."

Zalgiris will face Olympiacos Piraeus in an away game today. Meanwhile, Hayes will meet his former teammate from ASVEL Villeurbanne, Moustapha Fall, with whom he played in 2020-21.

"Olympiacos look very good. They are strong under the basket and attacking from the three-point zone. They are a really strong team, which is difficult to play against for everyone.

"It will be great to see Fall again, he improved a lot since playing in ASVEL. Competing against such big opponents is always more difficult. You have to give more energy, and you always have to focus on pushing them out of the paint and not allowing them to grab the offensive board," Hayes told BasketNews.


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