By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Three pure guards. In light of the injuries of team captain Vassilis Spanoulis and Janis Strelnieks, that was all that Olympiacos coach David Blatt had at his disposal for the key EuroLeague game against Bayern Munich.
It was up to the three remaining backcourt guys to share the load and make a significant step up to help their team get a win that would push them closer towards mathematically clinching a playoffs spot. And Briante Weber was ready to appropriately raise the level of his game.
“It’s like I always say: One man down, another man steps up,” Weber told Eurohoops. “I came in a situation where I can get to go out there and play. At the same time, learning European basketball as it is. And I’m still growing as a EuroLeague player.”
Weber arrived at Olympiacos in February to assume a mainly complementary role on the team. In the victory over Bayern, the American guard stayed on the court for a season-high 26:22 minutes (the most by any other guard on his team in this match) and produced his top EuroLeague outing so far with 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He scored seven of his points in the last 2:16 minutes of the first half to help the “Reds” go to the locker room with an important 50 – 31 lead at the break.
“Depending on the game flow, I go out and do what I have to do,” Weber said to Eurohoops on his contribution. “You need me to rebound? I’ll rebound with the bigs. If I have to push with the score, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m an all-around basketball player. I never limit myself to doing just one thing.”
Multitasking and handling a diverse set of duties is one part of what Weber wants to put on the floor. The other is inspiring his teammates by constantly exuding an uplifting attitude.“That’s because I’m excited for them to make plays as much as I am for myself. I definitely like seeing them all smiles. Everybody needs that. You need that person to lift you up on the court, even if a play goes bad. I’ll be the first one to talk to them. Tell them ‘hey, we got another play, another stop to get’ etc, etc. Continue that way.”
Weber’s motto is “Bri-fense” (a play of words with his name) due to his knack for… well… defense. The former “Ram” believes that his energy and dedication on the defensive end perfectly suit the style of his team. “I definitely feed on me being a defensive player and that’s what gets my team going. If we get stops and run… that’s when we are in our best.”
The overall defensive effort was a major aspect behind the win of Olympiacos over Bayern. On the other end, players like Zach LeDay and Nikola Milutinov made buckets in an efficient fashion with 23 and 20 points plus 9/14 and 9/10 shots respectively.
“We have some great bigs. We fed off them,” Weber said to Eurohoops. “It’s definitely fun [playing with them]. Because when you get in trouble you can just lay it up on top Most bigs are not athletic or mobile enough to do both. Roll or stop and hit the jumper. You love athletic bigs who can smoke them and move as fast as you can move. To have those two guys? It’s a gift for a guard.”
“Even Nikola, who is a seven-footer, is definitely moving faster than other seven-footers. He’s a gift.”