By Bilal Baran Yardımcı / email@example.com
The 2023-24 EuroLeague Regular Season for Fenerbahce starts at home on October 6 at 19:45 CET against Olimpia Milano, and once again one of the main protagonists on Dimitris Itoudis’ team will be Nigel Hayes-Davis
After standing out as one of the most surprising small forwards in the whole Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in his first season with Fenerbahce, averaging 10.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game with the yellow-and-blue team, the 28-year-old player is ready for another season in Istanbul.
Coming back even better and Rajon Rondo’s quote
As previously stated, he had a great impact on the yellow-and-blue side of Istanbul last season. However, he wants to come back even better this year. “There is a great quote that my friend Nathan Dupont and I use. It is a J. Cole line: “Keep grinding boy, your life can change in one year”. Crazy what a year makes, right? To answer your question, I think I could’ve done better. As the season went on, I was trending upwards, upwards and upwards. Part of that was due to me trying to make sure that I was just being too nice of a guy“, he first said.
“Best players and the best people in whatever the work field they work in are able to walk the line of being selfish, but also being able to work with others, being a team player. As the season went on, I started to be more selfish. I think I got really close to that line. You can see it in my play. As the season went on, everything started to keep going when I was like “How close can I get to this line of being selfish without going over? And If I do go over, don’t go too far“, he asked himself.
In growing up as a basketball player, he said one of the best things he learned was to be surrounded by people who belong to the NBA, like Patrick Beverley’s agent. “What really actually helped me the most was my agent also representing Patrick Beverley. He told me how Patrick was locked in over scouting reports, and knew guys inside and out when he was over here. That’s also something that I do. Guys sometimes give me sh*t about this: When we get our scouting reports, I write everything on the back of it in my own language. I write down all the plays, so that way I can call our plays on the court, I know what guys are going to do“, Nigel Hayes-Davis said about his working method.
Talking about NBA guards who left a mark on the former Galatasaray player, the 28-year-old talked about a recent quote by Rajon Rondo on The Old Man and the Three, JJ Redick’s podcast. “On JJ Redick’s podcast, Rajon Rondo talked about “not playing the other team but playing the opposing coach”. That is also something that I didn’t realize I did until he said that. I felt like “I do that”. After a timeout, I think: “What would this coach run right now and who would he run it for?” and see if I can figure it out. It’s just like anything you do in your life”, he added.
Most particularly, Nigel Hayes-Davis expressed his wish to become a prominent figure defensively. “My mindset is first-team all-defense. Europe doesn’t have a first-team all-defense but that is the mindset I want to take to the court. I want to be the best defender I can be. I want to be the best defender on the court every time. And in offense, as I told you, just be a hunter-gatherer, just find out how in every position I can go to the ball or I can get the ball to score. I want to keep that aggression on both ends of the floor every second I’m on the court. As the season went on, I was able to figure out, to do that and help the team. It is something that I’m going to do this year, but do even better. Just doing what I did and try to do it even better, more efficient with more grace and less mistakes“, Fenerbahce’s own said.
The love for Fenerbahce fans
Leaving the court topics aside, Nigel Hayes-Davis shared his love for Fener fans. “I just think about trying to be the best player I can be. I appreciate fan bases. I appreciate especially those who are here, and who support us. If we are talking about Fenerbahce fans, the fans that come to Turkish League games… Number one in our hearts. Because those are the games where it is not sold out, it is not crazy. The fans who come to those games really have our utmost appreciation. As that goes down, fans who are there to support us, cheer us whether we are winning or losing… They are the fans that we really appreciate“, he first said.
“When you see someone dive for the loose ball, those are the fans that we are doing it for. When we are winning, we are on a winning streak and everyone’s like ‘Oh gosh, I want to be a part of the team’. We do it for the fans who are there when we are losing, fans who are there when Nigel doesn’t score 20. I played for myself and for my family. As long as I can say that I’m proud of the effort I put in, as long as after the game my mother can text me “Good job”, then I know I did a good job. The love for basketball and this business is fleeting and situational. I haven’t always played for Fenerbahce”, he added.
Finally, he promised to give his all for this jersey. “The love for basketball is conditional. But the love from my family, the love I have for myself to try the be my best version is always constant. Like I said, I always appreciate the fans and the only thing I’ll say is we’ll do our best. I always try my best and play my hardest. Cheer us and support us when we are winning, cheer us and support us even more when we are losing. We will do our best”, he said to Fenerbahce fans ahead of the EuroLeague season.
PHOTO CREDIT: Turkish Airlines EuroLeague