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.
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.
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!