Interview

Interview: Luc Mbah a Moute of the Houston Rockets

Interview: Luc Mbah a Moute of the Houston Rockets

Yesterday, we got the opportunity to interview Rockets’ forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

One of the best signings of the offseason for Houston was veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute. His versatility on both offense and defense has been key in the 2-0 start of the Rockets. Check out what he had to say in an interview we had with him yesterday:

Space City Scoop: I know you haven’t been here very long, but how are you enjoying Houston so far?

Mbah a Moute: I love it, man. It’s a pretty cool city. Obviously, I came at a rough time with Hurricane Harvey but it’s been great to see how they got together and overcame it. J.J. Watt, some of the guys on my team, and a lot of people around the city have done a great time helping during Harvey. Hopefully, it is stronger than ever. The Astros are playing great so that’s exciting as well. It’s been fun.

Space City Scoop: The Rockets have been pretty impressive in their first two wins, including one vs. the Warriors the other night. How good do you think this team can be?

Mbah a Moute: I like our team, I think we have really good players. I think on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively, we are pretty good. We have guys that can switch when guarding and that are versatile. Very few teams in the league have that luxury. Same thing offensively, we have guys that can play multiple positions, so that makes it fun. We have a lot of stuff to work on, some of us are still new to the team, but it’s been great. Coach Mike is awesome, a very smart and good guy.

Space City Scoop: On the topic of defense, you are one of the most underrated defenders in the league, in our opinion. How much pride do you take in your defensive ability?

Mbah a Moute: Thank you, I appreciate it. I take a lot of pride. People who play with me and against me know how much I care about it. I will always think of myself as one of the best in the league when it comes to that end. I think to me, going out there every night and taking on the challenge of guarding point guards to centers, I enjoy that. Hopefully, I can do the same thing here and help the team in that regard.

Space City Scoop: After moving to a new team here in Houston, how nice is it to have that familiar face in Chris Paul?

Mbah a Moute: It’s been great. Chris was also a major factor in me coming down here after he got traded here earlier. It’s good to have somebody that you’ve meshed with before and who knows you. So it’s been great having him.

Space City Scoop: How has it been adjusting to the offensive system of Coach D’Antoni?

Mbah a Moute: Oh, it’s been awesome. It’s probably one of the best offenses I’ve been around, if not the best. I think he makes a lot of guys better.

Space City Scoop: I saw on Twitter that you had some pretty great dance moves before last game. How fun is that Rockets’ locker room?

Mbah a Moute: *laughs* Yeah, that started awhile back, I started dancing before games. It gets me going, it gets me excited, especially to African music, trying to go back to my roots. It’s fun. The guys are kind of picking on me now, so they want to see more and more.

 

Thanks again to Luc Mbah a Moute for interviewing with us! He is a super cool guy and he is in for a great season!

by Michael Knight

Source : https://spacecityscoop.com/2017/10/21/interview-luc-mbah-a-moute-rockets/

Luc Mbah a Moute adjusting to Rockets’ style

Luc Mbah a Moute adjusting to Rockets’ style

Luc Mbah a Moute has spent his nine-year NBA career as a small forward, but with his move this season to the Rockets, a team in which the forwards are generally interchangeable on the offensive end, he has spent the first week at both forward spots.

Mbah a Moute has been one of the standouts of the first week, shooting well and seeming to adjust to the Rockets pace and style quickly.

“The way we play here, the three and the four are pretty much interchangeable,” Mbah a Moute said. “They both stay on the perimeter, whether it is in the corner or on the wing. The only difference is where I set the screen. Our offense is so fluid, we play multiple positions. It doesn’t really matter who is there. It is just about the action.

“It’s been really fun seeing the nuances and the actions and seeing all the cuts, all the reads. It’s very exciting.”

Though Mbah a Moute has so far largely been in the corner as he was in Los Angeles so far, there is potential in some lineups to set the pick-and-pop screens typical from Ryan Anderson.

“Being able to be on the wing is good, too,” he said. “I can shoot and drive and make plays from that position,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”

part by the findings on the load monitors Rockets players wear. Nene and Clint Capela have also been held out of portions of practices, but did not have any issues heading into Saturday’s off day.

 

Source : http://www.chron.com/

Luc was invited in TV5 Monde and RFI

Luc was invited in TV5 Monde and RFI

In France, Luc Mbah a Moute spent a good moment to give interviews to several media.

Luc guest in Sunday Night Live

Luc guest in Sunday Night Live

Luc Mbah a Moute is in France! Guest on the TV studio Sunday Night Live (beIN Sports), Luc participated in the basketball show and told us, among other analysis on the season of his team.

Defeat 75-100 among the Spurs

Defeat 75-100 among the Spurs

For their third game in Texas, the 76ers lost again with 75-100.

The first few minutes of the game with 11-3 were encouraging, but very quickly they are under water and end the first quarter with 30-13. The second quarter was a bit better but the team needed to put it more work to come back in the race. At the first half the Spurs are leading by 19 points.

Sixers vs. Spurs

The second half, was for the Spurs to dominate both quarters which gave no room for the sixers to come back in the game. Only 15% of 3points against 39% for the Spurs, 39 rebounds against 52, and 15 assists against 27. Luc ended the game with 13 points, ½ for 3points and ¾ at the free throws. The Sixers shackling their 10th defeat of suite (0V/ 10D)

Next game Wednesday evening at home face in Boston.

Luc itw

 

Luc’s interview and show’s appearances in Cameroon

Luc’s interview and show’s appearances in Cameroon

LMAM is currently in Cameroon and he participated in several local shows where he had an amazing time sharing his basketball season and his future plans.

 

Conference Final Forecast

For the entirety of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has been sitting back and watching intently, analyzing the every move of every player. His takes have been featured on TrueHoop and the NBA Today podcast at ESPN.com. Now as the posteason enters its penultimate stage, Luc believes he has a firm grasp of what’s coming next. He breaks down both series and selects a winner from each, forecasting who will meet in the 2012 NBA Finals next month.

Featured on ESPN’s True Hoop on May 29, 2012

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder


I like the matchups for Oklahoma City, especially Westbrook against Parker (Getty Images).

Individually the Thunder measure up with the Spurs great across the board.

At the point I like Russell Westbrook as both an offensive player and a defender on Tony Parker. Russell has always been a good defender ever since we were in college together. On the wings, with Kevin Durant’s length and Thabo Sefolosha’s ability as a defender, they matchup well with the San Antonio wings. Inside you’ve got Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, two guys who will make it difficult on anyone to score in deep.

I think they’ll have Perkins on Tim Duncan, to start the game at least, because Boris Diaw is a little more mobile so Serge will be able to stay with him better than Perkins. But I’m sure Ibaka will spend some time on Duncan as well and that will be a great matchup. Even if the Spurs go small, the Thunder can do the same and still match up really well with Durant at the 4 and Serge at the 5.

  • Who must the Thunder stop to beat the Spurs?

I think it’s Duncan. He’s still a great player, a Hall of Famer, and if he’s not able to be as good as he has been in the first two series, the Spurs will be in trouble. He has to play at that level and carry a strong percentage of the scoring load for them to win this series.

It’s tough to stop a Hall-of-Fame player like him, but you can try to contain him and get him off of his spots. He likes that 15-foot bank shot and he likes the pick and pop. There are a couple of ways to defend him, but you go in knowing that he’s going to find a way to score some points.

You can start by bodying him up and trying to stop him from getting the ball deep. If he does get it in there, you can send a guard to try and get the ball out of his hands. But he also has that face-up game, where he can shoot or drive. If he does try to drive off that, you can have someone come and help. I wouldn’t front him in the post because you have all those guys on the perimeter. If you front Tim, there’s nobody in the back. I’d start by pushing him off the post, playing behind him and going from there.


KD is going to get his, it’s what the Spurs do against the others that will determine the outcome (Getty Images).

  • Who must the Spurs stop to beat the Thunder?

I think at this point, you know what Durant is going to do. He’ll find his ways to score. But the key factor is Westbrook, because of his energy and his athleticism at that point guard position. When he brings it, he’s tough for any guard to hang with. He makes the Thunder so much better when he’s attacking and having great games.

I would put James Harden right up there, but I feel like sometimes even when Harden is not doing as well, if Russell is playing at a high level, OKC is really tough to beat. To slow him down, the Spurs have to force him into contested jump shots. He’s gotten better at making shots this year, but I still feel like his go-to is to get out and run, get into the key and create problems for teams. If you make him take more of those contested jumpers and play along the perimeter, you have a chance to win the game.

  • Who is the defensive player on the Thunder who’s been most instrumental in that team’s victories?

Undoubtedly, the biggest player for Oklahoma City on defense is Ibaka. Serge’s one-on-one defense and his shot-blocking ability on the weak side have made a big difference. He’s been able to handle any forward he’s guarded. I thought he did a good job on Dirk Nowitzki and even better on Pau Gasol. He really didn’t let Gasol get off, and a lot of the scores Pau got in that series were off dropoffs and offensive rebounds.


We’ve all been there. Serge is the best shot blocker in the game because of great anticipation (Getty Images).

Serge is a very smart defender and he’s pretty much got timing down. He knows when to stay on a guy and when to jump to block the shot. He’s also quick enough to stay in front of some guys and strong enough to body them up. It’s been interesting to watch and see how he’s progressed as a defender.

  • Who is the defensive player on the Spurs who’s been most instrumental in that team’s victories?

The Spurs play the most team-oriented defense of any team left. There isn’t one guy that’s responsible for too much. They all have things they do well and Gregg Popovich is great at maximizing each player’s ability. The concept and the scheme of Popovich’s defense is outstanding. You saw it against the Clippers. They took away the pick-and-roll and there was no way for Chris Paul to make plays, throw lobs or come off and shoot. They did a really good job of slowing Chris down and taking away his best options. Their scheme itself is the best defensive player they have.

  • Who wins and why?

Oklahoma City in 7. I think OKC’s athleticism and firepower will be too much. They have more firepower than San Antonio and by that I mean their individual players. I believe that’s what will decide this series. Both teams do a good job defensively so it’s going to come down to individual matchups.

I don’t think San Antonio has been tested so far in terms of guarding really good scorers. The main scorers they’ve faced have been interior players. They haven’t seen the likes of Durant, Westbrook and Harden, guys who can put up 30 every night. To have three guys like that on one team is going to be hard for the Spurs to handle. It’s the ultimate test for Popovich’s scheme.

In the previous two rounds, San Antonio played teams with only one playmaker and by taking that guy away they dominated the series. With OKC they have three playmakers and I personally don’t think the Spurs will be able to handle the Thunder in a seven-game series.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics


The Celtics must try to slow LeBron, but he’ll be a factor on both ends of the court (Getty Images).

There is a lot of history now between these two teams, but I think it comes down to knowing what’s at stake: They’re playing to go to the NBA championship series. That will make for a great series with a lot of intensity. It’s going to be fun to watch.

Not having Chris Bosh is definitely going to hurt Miami. They don’t lose much on the defensive end, but what they lose is his pressure on offense. He puts other defenders, good offensive players, in foul trouble. And he makes them guard. That takes a toll on you when you have to guard a guy like Bosh on defense and still go down to the offensive end and produce.

Udonis Haslem will have to step up again for them to have a chance. Against the Pacers he really did what needed to be done. They needed somebody else to make open shots, and he was able to be that guy. They’ll need him to keep that up until Bosh gets back.

  • Who must the Celtics stop to beat the Heat?

You have to stop LeBron James to win. He’s their main ball handler. He’s the decision-maker, the playmaker. He’s the guy who hasn’t struggled at all this year. At times we’ve seen D-Wade struggle a bit, but LeBron seems to always be on. He’s a guy who can do it all and the way he’s been playing this postseason has been amazing.

He wants to get in the paint, so you have to cut him off, but that’s not easy. When you stop him from getting in the paint that really helps you, but it’s tough because now he gets the ball in a situation where it’s easier to get into the paint and his jump shot has gotten so much better.

The Celtics have done a good job against LeBron over the years, and coach Doc Rivers had good schemes to stop him, but he’s had good games against them too. They just have to be physical with him, give him different looks. I think at times they will have Rajon Rondo matching up with him to have a quick guy who can impact the game and steal the ball from him. Over the years it has worked for them, so it will be a good matchup.

  • Who must the Heat stop to beat the Celtics?

I’m sticking with Kevin Garnett. He’s had a resurgence this year and especially in these playoffs, kind of the same way Tim Duncan has. KG has been tremendous, and he’s the one guy you have to stop if you want to win a game against the Celtics.


Handling KG is no simple task and Miami’s bigs must step up to the challenge again this series (Getty Images).

How Miami handles KG if Bosh isn’t back is going to be key in this series. In the previous series, LeBron was able to go down and take on David West, but he’s going to have to be on Paul Pierce this series, so it’s going to be on guys like Joel Anthony and Haslem to take on Garnett. Those guys are pretty good defenders, and I think they’ll be able to handle the task if they alternate down there. Miami goes small a lot now with Bosh out, having LeBron at the four and that also can impact the game. You can have your five go against KG and live with LeBron at the four.

  • Who is the defensive player on the Heat who’s been most instrumental in their victories?

I have to say that’s LeBron too. He’s just been playing at such a high level, starting with the Knicks series. Whenever he was on Carmelo, he did a great job on him. In the Pacers series when they lost Bosh, he had to go guard West and did an amazing job on him as well. He’s been tremendous for them defensively.

He keeps coming. He’s a very versatile defender and any time you have a versatile defender, it’s always an advantage because you can have him guard different positions and he can switch on different guys without hurting your team.

When you’re as good as LeBron is offensively, you usually tend to be a pretty good defensive player when you want to, especially if you have that physical ability. You know what to expect, you understand the game offensively and you know what guys want to do. I think knowing all that makes it easier defensively.

  • Who is the defensive player on the Celtics who’s been most instrumental in their victories?

I think it’s Paul Pierce. Paul did a great job on Andre Iguodala in the series against Philly. They say he’s getting older and he’s not supposed to be as good, but he’s still competing at a high level. I think he’s always been an underrated and good defender, but he got much better when Doc Rivers took over the team.


If anyone can stop this Miami team’s run it’s Doc Rivers. He pushes all the right buttons (Getty Images).

I’m sure Doc went to him and told him he would have to guard for them to be good. They’re a smart defensive team. They guard well and they have a lot of different coverages, which shows Doc’s influence. But Pierce has taken on the challenge and become a better defender. It helps when you have a guy like KG come on your team. That defensive energy that Kevin brings is contagious. His defensive mindset has rubbed off on the team and especially on Paul.

  • Who wins and why?

Boston in 7. Overall, I think Boston matches up well with Miami. We saw it during the regular season and they’ve been playing well in the postseason.

Being without Bosh is going to make a difference. I don’t think LeBron and Wade can each have four 35-point games against Boston. Doc won’t let that happen — the Celtics’ schemes are too good. They’re going to take one of those guys out of the game, and for Miami to win, they’ll need each of those guys to score in the high 30s. I don’t see that happening

Doing My Best to Be Ready

Being in LA this time of year has been really different. I was just talking to some friends about how, at this time of year for the last three years, I’ve been used to being up in Milwaukee and it being cold.

The weather is not this nice. I live in Santa Monica right by the beach and the weather this time of year is great. In Milwaukee the weather is just getting cold, the sky is grey. Here we just had a heat wave a few weeks back and it was like 90 degrees. I was just like, “Wow, this is great. »


It’s been a fun offseason, but I’m more than ready to get back to playing the game I love.

At the same time, my body is ready to get to work. I’m not used to sitting around at this time. This is the time when things get going. Because of that, I’ve been training a lot out here in LA. I’ve really been focused on that for the last two months. Hopefully we’ll be getting close to a deal real soon, so I want to be ready when the season starts.

But it’s kind of a weird situation working out during the lockout because you really don’t know when to peak in your workouts. You don’t want to peak and then have to wait two or three more weeks. That would be bad. So I’ve maintained a steady workout regimen where I’m right there in the middle, a week or two away from peaking physically.

I work out with a personal trainer to make sure I maintain my regimen. I’ve worked out with Arron Afflalo a few times because we have the same personal trainer, and we’re in the same boat with the lockout. We play a little one-on-one or do some drills together sometimes.

As an NBA player waiting this out, you don’t want to be in a phase when you’re going too fast too soon, because then when we get that call your body may be in decline and tired right before the season. I’ve just been trying to stay in the same phase of training.

I’ve been working a lot on my jump shot and my basketball skills, just so I can have my body right. I probably put up about 500 to 650 makes per day and with the shots and the basketball drills training, I’m in the gym for at least two hours every day. Then I have another hour and a half of weightlifting and doing body work.

CATCHING UP IN DOWN TIME
Other than working out, I’ll go to the beach here in Santa Monica a lot. I like to ride my bike around the beach and hang out with some old friends from college.

LA has so many things to offer, so I just try to do different things around town. I love jazz music, so I got to local jazz events when I can. Being in a metropolitan area like LA, there are so many different restaurants and other different venues. I’m trying to enjoy it while I can.

It’s a lot different to live in LA as a professional than it was as a poor college student. I can definitely afford better restaurants than I did while I was in college. As a college student you’re limited as to what you can do financially. As a pro athlete, I’m blessed to be in a situation where I can afford to do some things and explore a city like LA a little more broadly. It offers a different look at the city than when I was in college here and helps me appreciate everything I have.

I’ve definitely made the most of my time here. There are a lot of people here that I have reconnected with, friends from college that I usually don’t get a chance to see and who I haven’t talked to much in three years. So for me to have the opportunity to get back to them, reestablish those friendships, it has probably been the best part of all of this. It’s really great to see how they’re all doing and share my experiences with them.

I have visited the UCLA campus some and talked to different professors about what I’ve been up to with my camp in Cameroon. I don’t get much of a chance to talk to people in LA during the season, so it was good to be able to do that. I stopped by Coach Howland’s office a couple times while I was on campus and got a chance to talk to him a little bit. He told me about the team and what they’re trying to do to get better.

They’re definitely in a period where they’re rebuilding, but they should have a better team this year and definitely much better the following year. I’m excited for them, I think this is going to be a good year and set them up for a few really good years. Maybe I’ll even get out to a game or two.

Of Class and Labor

It’s been a quiet last few months for me, but I’ve enjoyed my time out here in LA.

With the spare time I have had, it allowed me to take two classes at UCLA during summer school. It was definitely a different experience going back into the classroom, sitting there listening to professors, taking notes. Having been out of school for three years, I definitely forgot what it was like to do it.


UCLA was a lot like I remembered it and I went to all my old spots on campus.

But the two classes I took were very interesting subjects to me, so they kept my attention. One of them was in International Development Studies and it focused on the process of developing third world countries, specifically countries in Africa. That was a really good course for me, because working to develop the countries in Africa is something I want to do after basketball. So that was really informative, getting to look at the different aspects of economic development.

I also took a political science class on the policies in France and Britain, which was interesting to me to see the comparing and contrasting traits. I liked both classes, so that made it easier for me to sit in class, enjoy myself and have a good time learning. It could have been a different story if I took boring classes, but the fact that I took those two classes made it much more fun.

I ended up getting an ‘A’ in both classes, which was good given that I hadn’t been in the classroom for three years. I kind of patted myself on the back for that.

The campus was just how I remembered it. There were fewer students because it was summer school, but otherwise it was the same. I took my same routes, went to the same spots where I used to go eat, all the cafes. It was a lot of fun. I got to see some of the same workers that I always saw, the delivery guys and some of the guys who worked in maintenance. It was fun seeing them. It brought back some great memories.

Most of the people who recognized me were either seniors who were there during my last year or people who have worked there. The youngsters didn’t really recognize me since it’s been so long since I left school. So no Cameroon Crazies chants this time. I only have a few left to complete my degree. Hopefully I can get those done next summer.

LEARNING ABOUT THE LOCKOUT
I’m not in class now, because I didn’t want to get caught in a tough spot if the lockout were to end.

I stayed here in LA, rather than doing any traveling, because when it comes down to it, you really don’t know when deals are going to be struck. We’re hopeful that something is going to happen soon, so I don’t want to be caught up in going on a trip or have anything like that happening. I’ve put anything else off and just focused on training and staying healthy.

It’s a different feeling to not be playing basketball at this time of year. I’m always checking the news to see the latest and checking my e-mail to see if anyone has any news about whether we’re close to getting a deal. You just have to hope for the best.

But this is something I’ve been preparing for, we’ve all been preparing for over the last year and a half. We knew this was coming. I properly prepared for it and now I just have to wait and see.

I planned this whole summer out ready for a lockout. I was able to go back home early in the summer and do my camp, then when I came back I took the classes at school and now I’m just training and waiting. I planned ahead financially as well and made arrangements so I would be secure if the lockout went for a while.

Being a team rep, I have to be more in tune with what’s going on and in touch with the guys that are in the room. I’m always contacting the NBPA to make sure I get the right information about what’s going on with the state of the dispute. I want to make sure I’m informed in case one of my teammates calls me. But most guys do their own due diligence too and all the players are really in-tune with the talks.


I’ve attended several lockout meetings, because, as a player rep, it’s my job to know what’s going on. (AP Photo)

Being as involved as I have been and going to some meetings has helped me to understand the intricacies of the issues and how complicated it is. You get a feel for how big the decisions are and how they are made. As far as the details are concerned, I didn’t know a lot. Knowing some of these things has been a big help to my perspective.

It’s a lot more than meets the eye from an outside viewpoint. Being there gives you a broader perspective of what you do and how it impacts people’s lives. It gives you a greater understanding of it and once you have that, I think it allows you to better appreciate what you do, what other people do for the game and how important the fans are for the business.

I want all those fans to understand that this is not a strike. We are being locked out of our jobs. We want to play. We’ve made big concessions to play. We’ve proposed a deal to give back $1.1 billon to the owners, which should be enough to cover losses.

That to me should be enough to save the season. We’re sorry to make fans wait this long, but if it were up to us, we would be playing for you. Hopefully we can get this done so and get back to playing. It should be a fun season.

A Heartbreaking Loss

I have a hard time, as I’m sure every Cameroonian does, digesting the elimination from the World Cup in the first round again.

In fact, ever since that great run in 1990, we have not gone past the first round at the World Cup. This time, we fell at the hands of Denmark.


All of Cameroon felt like Samuel Eto’o (Reuters).

The game started with Cameroon playing great, so much so that at the 10th minute, Samuel Eto’o scored our first (and only) goal of the Cup. The stadium went crazy! People were jumping everywhere. It was so bad that I found myself two rows from my seat, hugging people that I didn’t know.

Later, when everyone sat down, tears started streaming from my eyes. Not because I was happy, but because I realized that I got elbowed in the eye during the celebration. Man, it was hurting!

That was one of the most exciting moments of my trip.

It was also the high point. Denmark ended up winning, 2-1. Afterward, there were groups of people all around the stadium talking about the game and the team.

It appears to be a lot of internal  issues on the team. I came back, called my travel agent, and went straight to bed.

Yes, Cameroon being out of the World Cup ended my vacation. I will not be going to Capetown for the last game. I’m going to go back home for a few days, then back to the U.S., get in the lab, and get ready for a big season next year.

With Argentina’s Fans

Another great day in Johannesburg!

I was supposed to go visit the Apartheid Museum, but we ended going to the Argentina vs Korea game. It ended up being one of the most exciting games of the Cup so far, with a 4-1 final score.

Argentina’s people were the most exciting fans that I’ve seen so far, along with the South Africans. The whole stadium was covered with banners from Argentinian home clubs to pictures of Maradona and Che Guevara. The game was dominated by Messi and his boys from start to finish, and Argentina is now going to move to the next round.


Luc with Argentina’s finest.

The other story out here was the upset of France by Mexico, which adds to the high number of upsets that have been hapening so far in the tournament. Otherwise, it’s been quiet. It’s still really cold out here, so people tend to stay inside more than they normally would at a World Cup. Tomorrow, I’m going to the USA game vs Slovenia.


A panoramic view of Argentina’s fans

Starting on a Down Note

It is about 12:30 am Tuesday here in South Africa, and I just got back to the hotel from a long day in Bloemfontein.

It takes about four hours to get from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, so we left early — around seven in the morning — because we wanted to beat the traffic leaving. We also didn’t want to miss the pre-game celebrations.


This is what it means to support Cameroon.

Sure enough, the « Pays » — as we call a group of Cameroonian outside the country — showed up. The Green Red and Yellow was everywhere, from traditional outfits to different homemade costumes. The Lions were represented everywhere. What was surprising for me was the support we got from South Africans. From adults to high school kids, they all came to the stadium wearing Cameroonian colors. I thought that was awesome!

TOUGH START FOR THE LIONS
The game itself was terrible. We did not play well at all. Cameroon only had one shot at the goal the whole first half, which explains why were down 1-0 after the first 45 minutes. The second half started with about the same pace the first half did. It wasn’t until the 80th minute of the game that we saw more action from the Lions, trying to tie it up, but by then, it was too late.

We ended up losing, 1-0. It was a very disappointing loss for us, knowing that this was a game that we should have won, especially given that we are playing better teams in Denmark and the Netherlands, respectively.

Talking to other people from Cameroon outside the stadium on my way home, everyone was disappointed. And like good Cameroonians, they all had something to say or argue about why we lost the game. They say there are 20 million coaches in Cameroon because each and every person has an opinion, strategy, lineup, or something to say about the national team. LOL…

For once, though, nearly everyone agreed, saying that the coaching decisions — especially the lineup — were the reason we lost the game. Looking at what happened, it is hard to disagree. Coach Paul Le Guen decided to sit Alexandre Song, the midfielder who plays for Arsenal. He started Samuel Eto’o on the right wing instead of center striker, which is his normal position. And he started three very young players, all who were playing their first World Cup, leaving players like Achile Emana and Geremi on the bench.

All these changes in the lineup, along with the loss, put a lot of doubts in Cameroonian heads as they wait for the most important game of the tournament — against Denmark on the 19th.

As for me, I’m just soaking it all in like a sponge. Tomorrow, I’ll be hanging out at the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, where the ESPN studios are located. ‘Til then, goodnight everyone from Johannesburg!

Moute at the World Cup

I always dreamed about going to the World Cup, and what an experience it would be. And I can’t think of a better way to do it than go to the first ever World Cup held in Africa. So I’m here in South Africa, ready to go and blog about it, and live the dream for the first time.


Roger Milla, hero of Cameroon’s 1990 World Cup campaign.

You need to understand: Soccer is like a religion here in Africa. Almost everybody plays, no matter if they live in the urban cities or rural villages. Cameroon, my country, has always been one of the best soccer teams in Africa, participating in multiple World Cups (1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002).

The best memory of the team, which is nicknamed the Indomitable Lions, is when they reached the quarterfinals in 1990. That was the first time an African team went that far in the competition, and my first experience with the World Cup. Me and my brothers were too young to go, but I remember watching TV, trying to see my dad, who went. I also remember looking at the pictures later when I was older, and it just seemed like a wonderful experience.

For me, this is the experience of a lifetime, and for the weeks I am in South Africa, you guys will be able to live it through my eyes. I look forward to the different activities before and after games, all the different dances and songs from the countries and cultures represented. The crazy fans like the English hooligans, the Brazilians dancing the samba outside the stadiums. Also looking forward to visiting the prison where Nelson Mandela was held and — who knows — maybe meeting him, which is probably going to be impossible.

But as they say in my country, « Impossible is not Cameroonian! »

Playoff Ready

The playoffs start Saturday and everyone here in Milwaukee is ready. It’s a great feeling. There are a lot of players who go through their whole careers without even getting to this level. For me to be able to enter the playoffs in my second year is definitely something I’m happy about. Hopefully it works out well for us. If we play hard, we’ll have a lot of success.

I’ve played postseason basketball before and for three seasons at UCLA we went to the Final Four, but obviously it’s a lot different here in the NBA. It’s a different situation because in the NCAA Tournament, its pretty much win or go home. You lose a game and you’re done. Here in the pros, you’ve got a whole seven game series so a lot of things can happen to cause momentum changes, injuries and different things throughout the whole series.

But something that’s key, the mindset that you have to have from beginning, it that you have to be ready at all times for the whole series. Having postseason experience is good, because I’ve been in a situation where it’s the end of the season and we’re playing for something big.


Luc has been bringing it at both ends of the floor (Getty Images).

You want to be in that situation. That means you had a successful season up until that point. So, having that mentality, knowing that you have to go hard pretty much every day because every game could be your last, is definitely going to help me during the playoffs.

We get matched up with Atlanta and we’ve already had some good battles with them this year. They are a team that does a lot of different things. They switch a lot defensively and give you us a lot of different sets to look at.

The ability to compete is going to be big for us. Every time we’ve played them, we’ve always come out and competed. That was good, but we need to step it up even higher in the playoffs. I’ll have a particularly tough matchup that I’ll have to step up for.

Joe Johnson is very tough to guard, obviously. He’s one of the best in the league. Sometimes I think he’s underrated. He’s a special player and he’s just got so much talent. The best way to guard him is to just give him different looks. You can’t feed him the same diet. You have to be physical with him sometimes. You have to be quick. You have to change personnel and give him a bunch of different looks, try to make it tough for him.

When you’re in college, you just watch games and you don’t really understand how good guys are or what it takes to defend certain guys. So I didn’t understand much about him until my rookie year, I got get a little bit of a feel for Joe. But he’s a tough player. It’s a real tough matchup and hopefully our team will come up with a good scheme to go against him. Hopefully we’ll be successful in that.

The veteran guys on this team, Jerry Stackhouse and John Salmons have tried to prepare us for what we’re about to experience. It’s going to be much more intense and it’s going to be crazy.

But I don’t think anybody can tell you how it is. You just have to experience it yourself. I’m excited about that, just having the opportunity to go out there and experience it myself. They can try to tell you everything about it, but you don’t really know until you experience it yourself. They’re just trying to get everybody to stay  focused and ready, stay engaged and be prepared for the whole series.

A FAMILY OF FANS
We have a really really good fan base here in Milwaukee. The people are very supportive of our team and some of our players, especially me. I feel like I have a good support group here, the fans have embraced me. I’m really happy for that.

Recently, I’ve been able to meet fans through Twitter giveaways and given out t-shirts like my Moute Kicks Boute T-Shirt. I did a ticket giveaway recently on Twitter and the response blew me away. It was surprising really, because I didn’t give any notice. I just did it one night. It was amazing how fast those people answered the questions, how well they knew me and knew all the answers to the questions I was asking. I think I might do another one during the playoffs.

It’s been a lot of fun and it’s a great way to interact with the fans and develop that relationship. Having that type of relationship with these people is important to me. You obviously want your fans to be behind you at all times. Developing a good relationship with them is the first step. Once you have that relationship with them, they get to know you better. They know sometimes you’ll have a bad game and they understand.

It’s kind of like your relationship with anybody in your family. Some days you’re going to be great and some days you’re going to be bad, but as long as you have a good relationship with those people and you understand that you’re on the same page, going in the same direction, it’s a good thing.


Luc will play a key role defensively when it comes to stopping the Hawks (Getty Images).

The people in Milwaukee are very characteristic of people from the Midwest. People from the Midwest are very nice people. They’re very warm and welcoming. They care about other people. You see the fans out there and they care a lot about how we’re doing they are here through good and bad.

The fans in Milwaukee, they’ve always been there, despite the bad years they’ve had. They have always been there. Once you have success, it’s also good for them. It shows in how important they’ve been to our run and the success we’ve had this year. I think we won like 28 games at home this year and it’s all because of those fans. They’ve been great.

They support us through the game from the beginning. They have stuff like Squad 6, which is Andrew Bogut’s section, and it’s pretty much like a student section in college. They’re up cheering the whole game.

It’s really amazing to see all those fans coming to the game with their different signs, the Fear the Deer movement and my Moute Kicks Boute shirts. Those people have embraced us and keep cheering us on,
supporting us throughout this whole season.

Bringing playoff basketball back to these people is huge for us. This city hasn’t been to the playoffs in a while and just brining back that atmosphere to the city, it will be great. I think it’s going to be good for the fans and for everybody involved.

Everybody is happy and everybody is excited. They can’t wait for the playoffs so hopefully when it comes, we can get everybody at the game and we get it crackin’.

AN EVEN GREATER CHALLENGE
We lost a big part of our team when we lost Andrew to that elbow injury.

It’s always tough when you have a player like Andrew go down. You really can’t replace him. The guy has been big, arguably the most improved player in the league. The way he’s been dominant defensively for us and on offense he’s given us that big presence inside too. It’s tough to lose that.

But it happens. It just means somebody else, and in this case everybody else, needs to step up. Everybody here has to do a little more. That doesn’t mean one person has to score 15 points and get 11 rebounds like Andrew does. It just means we each have to do a little bit more of what we do and be more focused.

For me, it’s about doing pretty much the same thing. Just grab an extra rebound or grab an extra loose ball defensively to get us an extra possession. We have to be solid and sound as a team, be there to have everybody’s back, be more aggressive on offense and do everything we can to help the team win.

Offensively, I think things are coming around for me personally. Sometimes it’s tough being out there in different situations with different lineups. It’s sometimes hard to get yourself going, but for the most part, it’s been going well. I’m out there making plays and helping the team. I find myself facilitating most of the time, but I take my chances when they present themselves. I just have to continue to work and get better.

I think we have a chance here. We need to just come out and play hard. If we fight hard, play good defense and we lay it all out on the table, we’ll see where it goes. If we can do that, I like our chances. But we have to do it. We have to come out every game, play hard and lay it all out on the table.

 

We’re on a Roll

We’ve been on this great run lately and it’s just a product of a group of guys learning to play together. We’re coming together as a team, finding ways to win. Having guys like John Salmons and Jerry Stackhouse in the lineup has also been good for us.

Stack is a veteran and it’s great having him on the team because he knows how to win. He understands the game so well and he only helps all the other guys around him. He’s teaching us the way to go in every game. He’s also been shooting the ball pretty well and he’s a guy we can send down into the post to get a basket for us. It’s always good to have a veteran like him on the team. He’s been good for our team.


« [Coach Skiles] has a great attitude as a tough, hard-nosed guy. » (Getty Images)

A big reason that we’re winning has been the team coming together and gelling. Everybody is developing a solid chemistry and we’re going to need that to continue winning and go far.

Brandon Jennings has been a big part of that. From the start of this season he has been playing really well. Even when he’s not shooting well, he’s always running the team, making plays. I think he’s been tremendous and the future is bright for him. We need him to continue to play at that level for us to be good.

I’ve been understanding the offense better as the season goes on. I know now where my shots are going to come from. I’ve also been being more aggressive, trying to make plays for the team. My teammates are finding me in the flow of the game. Running the floor, the guys usually do a good job of finding me when I’m open.

Everybody has figured out what they need to do in order for us to be good. Whether it’s defending, or running the team as Brandon does, getting back and getting rebounds like Andrew Bogut and John Salmons usually do. Everybody is finding their role within our system and that’s been good for us.

Coach Skiles has certainly been the glue to that. This summer he told us we were going to have a good year this year. He said we were going to be under the radar. You just have to keep working hard and trust him because he knows what he’s doing. He has a great attitude as a tough, hard-nosed guy. He’s created that same attitude within our team and that’s been good for us, helping us to the success we’ve had so far.

All the work has paid off and I appreciate all that he does. Coach makes practices hard. Right now, we don’t really go as hard because it is March and he knows it’s not the time to be banging bodies or anything like that. But practice is always very focused, very business-like. We come in, do what we’re supposed to do, go hard and then go home.

That focus has prepared us for what we’re facing as we try to get into the playoffs right now. It’s been good. What you go through in a tough practice, guys going hard at each other, it definitely prepares you for the way it will be on the floor later in the season. Practice is the foundation of what we do. Some people say you play like you practice. So if we practice hard and practice well then you should play well.

THE STOPPER
A lot of people say that I’m becoming one of the best defenders in the league and defense has always been important to me.

I take a lot of pride in my defense. That’s what I do best and that’s what the team needs to do in order for us to be good. Every time I’m out there, I try to do my best to try and defend at a high level. Coach has put a lot of trust in me, guarding some of the best players in the league every time I go out there.


Taking a loose ball from Elton Brand (Getty Images).

But defending is something you can’t do by yourself. My teammates have been doing a good job of helping me. Every time I’m beat or I’m a step slow, they’re right there to pick me up, so that has been helpful.

I had to defend Kevin Garnett the other night and he is one player that makes defense difficult. Those types of players, you can’t really stop them. You just have to contain them as much as possible and try to make it tough for them. But I don’t think you can stop a player like Garnett when he’s on.

But again, it becomes a whole team concept. I’m smaller than him so he can overpower me. But when my teammates are there to come down and help, it makes it much easier.

One of the tougher players to defend that doesn’t get enough credit for it is Brandon Roy. I keep saying it, but that guy is one of the toughest guys to guard. He plays very well within their system and he’s very good at doing what he needs to in order to score the basketball. He does it in a variety of different ways. When he’s on, man he’s tough to guard.

But I’ll always try to stop him from scoring. You just have to try and do whatever you can, give him different looks, make it tough on him. It gets physical and I use my length, anything to make it tough. Usually it works.

There’s definitely a mental aspect to guarding scorers like that too. When you go against those guys you have to be mentally ready. It’s important to be mentally tough because they’re going to make tough shots and you can’t get down on yourself. They’re going to score. Those guys, that’s what they do best. You have to just keep at it and try to make it tough for the whole night. Hopefully your teammates can do a good job of helping you and you pick up the win.

STILL CRAZIE, KICKING BOUTE
Everyone needs to check out my spreadshirt store and pick up one of my « Moute Kicks Boute » or « Cameroon Crazies » shirts.

I want Bucks fans to get into the spirit just the way my fans did at UCLA. It’s something that I enjoyed when I was in college, a lot. In college, I didn’t have my family with me, so those Cameroon Crazies, those fans, were like my family in a way.

I don’t know who started it, but it just established itself. I just came in and looked at the stands one day and they were there with the Cameroon flag and jerseys. It was just a group of students who really liked me and my teammate Alfred Aboya. They wanted to show their love and appreciation.

They were always there in the stands cheering for me, waving the flag, writing my name on their bodies and all that crazy stuff they used to do. Obviously you can’t help but be appreciative of what they did and I still am to this day. That’s why I wanted to bring that culture to the Bucks.

It is a different culture because in college guys are really into it a little more. You can have people from all over the world coming to one college. In the pros it’s just about that city. But it’s the same concept you have guys cheering for your team and supporting the players that they love. It’s much the same thing in a way.

Hopefully some of you fans like the shirts enough to pick one up and show your support. I’m sure you will.

It’s been a tough season for my UCLA Bruins, but they’re rebuilding. They’ve had a tough year, losing a lot of guys to the NBA. It might take them a couple years to rebuild, but hopefully they’ll be back.

I still keep in touch with some of my UCLA teammates and when we see each other it’s always good. We talk about everybody’s season, UCLA and we reminisce on the good times we had playing there. That’s something I love, seeing someone I played with on the other side. I keep up with them and watch some of their games to see how they’re doing.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
I also like getting to know some of my fellow international players in the league.


Made famous at UCLA, « Moute Kicks Boute » shirts — and a whole bunch of others — have made their way to Milwaukee.

We have a lot of international players on our team as it is and I’ve gotten to know some of the international players on the other teams. Every time we play each other we say hello and check up on each other to see how each other is adjusting and everything like that. We watch out for each other.

Last week I had a once in a lifetime experience. We were in Washington D.C. to play the Wizards on Friday and earlier that day I was invited to the Cameroonian embassy in Washington to meet the ambassador.

It was very cool. Very few people get that privilege to meet the ambassador like I did. To be at the embassy and recognized as an ambassador of Cameroon in the United States, I was really appreciative of that. I hope to continue to work with the embassy. I want other international athletes, especially athletes from Cameroon and Africa to go back to their embassies to try and develop that relationship. It’s important to work with them and help each other out.

The growth of basketball in Cameroon and Africa has always been important to me.

Whenever I go home, people definitely recognize me. I would hope it keeps growing. I’m very concerned about basketball growing in Africa and it has been growing actually. You look at all the stuff that the NBA is doing over there with Basketball Without Borders and all the stuff the stuff that FIBA is doing.

Basketball is going to continue to grow as long as guys like me, Luol Deng and all the African players in the NBA keep going back and doing things, along with the NBA and FIBA.

It means a lot to me that I can use the platform that I’ve been given to make a difference in Africa. That’s what, to me, it’s all about, impacting other people with what we do. Every time you step out on the court or go out in the community, you feel like you’ve impacted other people and for me especially, impacted the people back home. It’s always a plus. The more that we can impact those peoples lives, the better the world is going to be, that’s the way I look at it.

With that in mind, I’m going to be going back to Cameroon this summer and I’m running a camp for some of the players there. There are very few basketball camps happening back in Africa, especially in Cameroon, so my camp will be there this summer from June 4th to 6th.

I’m going to be bringing in the top 50 players from the country and we’re going to put them through a three-day camp. The top 5 students out of the camp are going to go to Basketball Without Borders and we’re going to try and get them scholarships to come to the United States and kind of do the same thing I did, go to school and get an education.

After being here for so long, with college and now being in the NBA, I feel like it’s only right to have a camp and help basketball grow in Cameroon.

WORLD CUP WATCH
Even though basketball is growing in my home country, it’s still well behind soccer.

Soccer is like a religion in Cameroon. I grew up playing soccer and everybody plays there. You can’t help but become a soccer fan. I didn’t start playing basketball until I was 15.

I’m still a huge soccer fan and I’m going to the World Cup this summer with the Cameroonian national team. I’m always involved and I’m always talking about the UEFA Champions league and other soccer events on my Twitter. I’m a big soccer fan.

I really wanted to go to the World Cup because I think its going to be a wonderful experience, the first time ever they have the World Cup in Africa. It’s going to be something special and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

I also play some FIFA Soccer on the PS3. I’m pretty good. I usually play leagues with my friends from overseas or here in the United States. We just play when I’m free and it’s a good time. One of these days I might give you guys my gamer tag on my Twitter so follow me @mbahamoute!