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“Lokomotiv are a championship contender this season.” Brilliant interview with Burford from USA.

Date: July 23, 2024 Time: 02:02:00

Last year’s VTB United League finalist Lokomotiv-Kuban easily made it to the playoffs this season and intends to at least repeat last year’s result. On April 23, the quarterfinal series begins in Krasnodar, in which Loko will face Parma. One of the leaders of the Krasnodar team is American defender Jaylen Burford. The “Championship” spoke with the legionnaire on the eve of the start of the playoffs.

– You’re from Tennessee. What kind of place is this? — About the same as Krasnodar: sunny and warm, in winter there are sometimes frosts, but not severe. The people live a quiet provincial life. Tasty food. I love going there.

—How did you get into basketball? —When I was still little, my mother wanted me to play sports. As she wants. Somehow baseball didn’t suit me at all. But American football and basketball are a different matter. I liked that there was a lot of face to face combat with your opponent. So at school I did both… But when in college it came time to choose one thing, for a long time I didn’t think: basketball, of course. It is always played in warm indoor rooms. And sometimes it is very cold in football stadiums. Then I became a basketball player and I am very happy about it.

— You played on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. What impression did the Egyptian league leave on you, for example? – It was unusual. There are many games, almost every two days. There are almost no foreign players; Besides me, there was only one other American on our team. But the weather is always good. That’s why it’s always nice to remember that moment, even if it was only two months or so.

— From Egypt you moved to Kazakhstan. Did you have a good idea of ​​where you were going? – Well, in the VTB United League I already knew that the tournament is strong and competitive. And I knew very little about Kazakhstan thanks to a TV show “Blacklist.” There is such a presenter, Raymond Reddington, who travels around the world and films reports. At first I liked everything in Kazakhstan. Until the snow fell and the frost came.

Jaylen Burford

Photo: BC Lokomotiv-Kuban

—What were your first impressions of the United League? — I know a couple of guys who played here the season before my transfer. So I understood what to prepare for: teams that had won the Euroleague and the Eurocup many times, high-quality players, not easy games. Just what you need.

— In Astana, from the first match you began to demonstrate impressive statistics and after six rounds you received an offer from Lokomotiv-Kuban. Did you think for a long time? – Not so long. At that time I was at home during the Christmas holidays and within two days we agreed everything with Loko. I immediately realized what an opportunity it was for me, I gratefully accepted the invitation and did not regret it for a second.

Krasnodar is a very family-friendly city, it is convenient to go everywhere with children, everyone is like cousins ​​or uncles to each other. And there is such a good, calm atmosphere everywhere, especially when the sun rises and Loko wins.

– What do you do in your free time? — I relax, watch Netflix, listen to music, sleep and maybe go for a walk a little.

— Do you have favorite places in Krasnodar? — Mostly different restaurants. Even when I first arrived, I went to a football match, it was great, the stadium was really beautiful.

—How do you spend your time in the off-season? — I train children. I have a team that competes in an AAU program. It’s kind of like Summer League. We travel to different cities, states, play with other teams. For the boys, this is a chance to show themselves to scouts for strong college teams. And it’s just fun to travel around the country in the summer with friends and meet new people. We are based in Arkansas. Although there are also guys from Tennessee on the team. And from other neighboring states.

— Last offseason, Loko kept almost his entire roster. Have you encountered anything like this before in your career? — In fact, this is rare in European leagues. But sometimes you don’t need to make a big fuss to take a step forward. The club took a very important step: it retained the core of the team, the main players, for which, of course, we are very grateful to the management of the organization. And in the current season we have also specifically strengthened the team. Loko has an excellent team, I’m not just referring to the players, but also to those around us at the Club. I think we will be good in the playoffs.

— What can you say about the newcomers who joined the team in the second part of the season? — I ran into Patrick Miller several times in summer training camps. He is a very athletic point guard who is almost impossible to get ahead in a power struggle. It’s hard to defend against him because he can attack the basket himself and find a good direction for a pass.

Maurice Ndour is versatile in defense: he can easily switch between all positions, from first to fifth. He also gives a lot of energy to the team.

More recently, Carvel Anderson was added. While playing for Astana, I looked after him several times and it was difficult. He has a very quick release and is excellent at making a false pass or a false shot. Okaro White compared him to former NBA player Wayne Ellington. And this comparison seems accurate to me. I’m not surprised Carvel set the league record for three-pointers, he’s been playing very well this season.

So we have improved qualitatively, we should qualify for the championship, I am looking forward to the playoffs to see how we do.

—What can you say about the Loko players who play on the team? “A lot of people got good minutes this season and made good use of them. Martyuk considerably increased his aggressiveness in fighting under shields, became smarter in defense and braver in taking over the game after exchanges.

Yemchenko maintains a good level, despite the fact that throughout the season his position transforms: he started as an attack player, and now he is a point guard. It’s very difficult, but he manages it.

And, of course, Temirov. In my opinion, this is our best reservation. When he comes on the court, we start to play better as a team.

Jaylen Burford (with ball)

Photo: VTB United League

— In the first phase of the regular season, Loko won five of six games against top-four teams. However, in the second stage you have already lost five out of six times. What happened? “I think we lost the rhythm of the game a little bit.” This may seem like a search for a convenient excuse, but, in my opinion, in the games we lost to top 4 teams in the second stage, we were in the game until the last, and each of these defeats is a consequence of our mistakes individual, and not because the opponent was stronger. It’s good that we paid this price before the playoffs. We have had time to learn from our mistakes, that is why we face the fight for the title with more experience.

—Do you have any main rivals in the VTB United League? — Probably all the teams in the top 4. Every game with them is especially difficult. It seems that we are their main rival.

— Very soon Loko will begin the quarterfinal series with Parma. What can you say about your opponent? “This is a coaching team that strictly implements the mentor’s plan. Play basketball fast and well organized. There are four very strong defenders in the squad: three foreign players and one Russian. The opponent is not easy, but if we take matters into our hands, everything will be fine.

I expect to see a full stadium for the first two games of the series, even though they will be midweek. We always have great support at home and now the energy of the local stands is very important to us.

— You have many personal followers in Krasnodar. How do you feel about that? — I have said more than once that Krasnodar is my second home. I’ve never played this much anywhere else; I spent half of my professional career here. Of course, I’m glad that people here appreciate me. Their emotions give me and my family strength, and I try to give a positive charge to our fans with my game.

The family has a great life in Krasnodar. My girlfriend feels safe here, we live not far from the stadium and she has many good friends in the area. When my son goes to games, everyone is happy to see him, it seems to me that in Krasnodar everyone has a photo with him. So we feel at home here.

— When your American friends ask you about Russia, what do you tell them? —What’s going on here?, as you might think after watching the news. That Russia has a very tasty cuisine. What’s good about me here? Yes, I understand that I don’t go to many places. But where I live is quiet and safe. Also in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

— Due to the fact that Krasnodar airport is closed, Loko has the most difficult travel. How do you handle them? “I try to relax as much as possible, both body and mind. If it doesn’t work, I go to Alexey Turtygin (team rehabilitation specialist – Championship Note) for breathing exercises or a massage. And everything turns out well.

—Who do you think will win the MVP title this season? —I would award Xavier Rathen-Mays. His achievements are impressive: he led Yenisei to the playoffs and showed excellent results. This season no one has shown such an impact on the game, this will definitely go down in history.

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—Who will be the most difficult opponent in the playoffs? — Probably Zenit. In the last games they arrived in very good shape, they gained rhythm and are winning a lot. It won’t be easy with them.

—You didn’t play in the NBA. Do you have such a dream? — I don’t think much about that. I can’t control the future, so I don’t see the point in worrying about something far away. Now I have a team, we have a goal and a plan to achieve it. All my thoughts are about this.

—What does Loko need to do to win the championship? — Play as a team, defend others, be strong and focus on each episode of the game.

— You often take the decisive shots in tense endings. What are you thinking about right now? — I always believe in success. If I see an opportunity to shoot, I never doubt that I will hit it. And I don’t regret any shot I took.

—Which Loko game do you remember the most? — Game seven of last year’s semifinal against CSKA. This is our best game yet in terms of teamwork. That day each of us went to a new level, it gave us the power to play incredible combinations. Boom, and we send the opponent to rest. These games are remembered forever.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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