Sonny Weems: “I’m still one of the best American players that ever played in Europe”

2018-03-25T12:48:55+00:00 2018-03-25T16:36:43+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

25/Mar/18 12:48

Sonny Weems returned to Europe with a vengeance and eager to lead Anadolu Efes to the Turkish BSL title.

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

It’s far from an easy task joining a new club midway through the season and getting quickly accustomed to a brand new environment, successfully assimilating the team’s systems and, at the same time, produce on the hardwood.

Sonny Weems, however, makes it look like a cakewalk.

Over five EuroLeague games, since he joined Anadolu Efes in February, the 31-year-old American swingman has averaged 15.2 points, 4 assists, 3.6 rebounds. His team had already lost the train that leads to the postseason weeks before his arrival, but this kind of performances can fill the heart of any Efes fan with optimism ahead of the Turkish playoffs and the grand goal of winning the league title for the first time since 2009.

Eurohoops met with Weems outside of the locker rooms of Anadolu Efes following Friday’s (23/3) loss to Olympiacos for Round 28 of the EuroLeague Regular Season. His team had given quite the fight with multiple comebacks against the Greek powerhouse and third-best team in the current standings but ultimately fell in the last minute.

The 2014 All-Euroleague First Team selection – and also Eurohoops blogger – discussed his role within Efes, re-adapting to EuroLeague basketball, his future plans and the NBA, while commenting on last season’s “divorce” with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

– How do you assess the game against Olympiacos? Efes returned from 15+ plus deficits twice and you made it a one-possession affair with one minute remaining but didn’t manage to complete the comeback.

– “We didn’t get any stops, especially down the stretch. We did a great job on coming together as a team and lessen our deficits, especially at the end of the game. But this team has a real problem with making stops. Just getting plays. That’s the most important thing in Euroleague. You gotta to get stops, you got to play defense. Especially against a good team like this (Olympiacos). Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win. But we got close.”

– Efes won the Turkish Cup before you arrived but the major target at hand is also winning the Turkish League and overthrowing Fenerbahce from their throne. What do you think that your team should do in order to achieve that?

– “We got to stick together as a team. We have to get to get down on defense. Two of the main things I’ve noticed since I’ve been here are these: Rebounding and defense. We have to get better in that areas of the game. Once we do that on these two, then I think we have a good chance of beating them (Fenerbahce).”

– In your EuroLeague season debut with Anadolu Efes, you notched 19 points. You scored 21 in the next EuroLeague game against your former team Maccabi Tel Aviv. Where do you attribute this quick re-adjustment after your stint in China?

– “I’m still Sonny Weems. I’m still the same person. I’ve been in Europe for five years. I was playing for one of the elite teams in Europe like CSKA Moscow for a few years. I’m still very familiar with the basketball. I’m still one of the best American players that ever played in Europe. I pride myself on that. And I still work on my game. Even in the summertime. I don’t get any days off. There’s a lot of motivation for me coming back now.”

– What is your opinion about your new head coach, Ergin Ataman?

– “I think he’s a good coach. I don’t think he knows much about me and I don’t know too much about him. What I know is that I think we’re adjusting to each other pretty well. 

– What about his coaching style?

– “His style suits my own game. I can play the pick n’ roll, move the ball or anything as well. Obviously, after being in CSKA all those years. I can adjust pretty easily to any style of playing, whether it’s a more 1 VS 1 type of game, or pick n’ roll oriented style.”

– There are a lot of ball-dominant players in Efes. How do you find balance in such a lineup?

– “Because I can do everything else. I can play defense, I can grab the rebound. I’m not just a scorer. I can assist the ball, I can rebound the ball. I can lock my man and get out in transition. All these create plays for me and my team. I strive for that stuff.”

– Your contract expires at the end of 2017-2018. Do you see yourself with Efes next season?

– “I don’t know. I really haven’t thought about it much yet. I’m just trying to get this season done. I came back and I think I’ve proven myself. I think that everybody thinks I’m still Sonny Weems. I don’t really have a certain team where’ll go too but I’m willing to stay in Europe.”

– Won’t you explore NBA options during the summer?

– “No. I mean… maybe…”

– You seem uncertain. Why is that?

– “Because I’m not really too stressed about going in the NBA. I’ve been there. It’s all political. I’m really comfortable in Europe. So there might be a destination where I belong here. I’ve established myself in Europe.”

– You returned to Europe to play basketball for the first time after Maccabi released you reportedly for failing to provide a sample at a doping test. There are those who still think you were at fault in this.

– “I’m not at fault. They said I was banned. Well, you can’t be banned from EuroLeague and still playing like I am right now. Obviously, I wasn’t in the wrong. They made a bunch of mistakes on their part. I’m just happy that I’m back in EuroLeague, playing basketball and moving on.

Karma always comes back around. And right now they are struggling to get in the playoffs.”

– You feel that what is happening to them is a case of “karma payback”?

– “Maybe. I’m just moving on ahead. Thinking about my future. I’m not worried about that. What happened in the past, is in the past.”

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