|The fact that the Euroleague is as competitive as ever in 2005-06 was clear when there were neither undefeated nor winless teams left after five weeks. More evidence came as the regular season's first half ended with 21 teams within three victories of first place in their groups. One such team, newcomer Strasbourg, can really testify how even the Euroleague is: three of its defeats came by a total of 7 points. Strasbourg forward Ricardo Greer currently holds the Euroleague's highest individual performance rating, and as big brother to teammate Jeff Greer, can speak for more than himself when he promises in this Euroleague.net interview that Strasbourg will aim high the rest of the way. "We could easily be in the top two or three positions in our group, but the ball didn't fall on our side a couple of times," Greer told Euroleague.net. "One thing we haven't done is give up, and we won't, either. We have to continue fighting, and hopefully by the end of the first round, we can still make the Top 16, our main goal."
First, congratulations on your great start. Talking about the team first, how does knocking off Tau Ceramica last week make you guys feel heading into the second half of the regular season?
"We feel pretty good. We've had some close games, some real nail-biters that we lost. We could easily be in the top two or three positions in our group, but the ball didn't fall on our side a couple of times. One thing we haven't done is give up, and we won't, either. We have to continue fighting, and hopefully by the end of the first round, we can still make the Top 16, our main goal."
As you said, Strasbourg could easily have four of five wins and be among the leaders in Group A. Does that thought give you guys more confidence than maybe you had before the season started?
"We always felt we could compete, and in the first half, the team has done a great job to show we can play at this level. We're excited about the outcomes and the situation, but we know that all the big teams are going to get calls before we do, because we're like rookies. But that's OK. We're just going to fight and continue to do all we can to win the games."
Does it also make you a dangerous team now, one that's out for revenge a bit?
"We just feel, as I've kept saying, that we've taking a tough situation and made it clear that every team can't look at us like they are going to run us right over. I think teams understand now that we can actually play. But now coming up against us, they might not be surprised at that. So now we really have to step our game up. The second time around will be much harder, I think."
It's the team's first season, and except for a couple guys, all the players are Euroleague newcomers. How have you guys adjusted so well to this new, high-level competition?
"I think that a lot of us played a physical style of basketball back in college, and here we've found that the Euroleague is a lot more of a physical league than the French League. So you can get away with a lot more on defense, and that let's us play more aggressive defense that has kept us in every game."
People have commented that Strasbourg plays an American-style game. Is that true, and if so, how?
It's true we have a lot of Americans on our team, but I think the key is that our coach does a good job of switching defenses all the time. He never keeps the same defense on the court. That helps us a lot preparing for the game to know going in we're not sold on one way defensively. We are going to confuse the other team, play hard, and even though we're not big, we can do a lot with our physical style and our quickness."
You are leading the performance rankings for the Euroleague in your first season. Was that anything you could have envisioned before this season started?
"Not at all, honestly. I didn't know what to expect. This is the second-highest level to the NBA, but I just looked at it as another challenge in my career. My whole thing has been to help Strasbourg to be the best it possibly can and in that way bring some notoriety to us as a team."
Now that the other teams' coaches and defenders know you better, are you expecting a tougher time in the second run through your group?
"I always say that you can study a player and do whatever you want to prepare for him, but it all comes down to what that player brings to the table. Just like they are going to change what they do to try to stop you, you've got to change also. You can't stay the same. They know what you want do and what they are expecting from you. Maybe one game you're not going to score 20, so you've got out there and shut down someone from their team. Do something else to help your team win, because at the end of the day, that's what is most important."
How is it that you and your brother Jeff came as a package last season to Strasbourg? Was it the club's idea, or yours and Jeff's?
"It was our idea and our coach's idea. We wanted to do it, Jeff and I. We had played such a long time playing against each other, from college to here in Europe, that we figured it was about time we finally did it together. And it has been a great situation. I couldn't ask for a better situation than playing with my brother. It's always good to have family around, to start. Even if one of us is doing bad, or not up to par, we've got the other to pick us up. We've got each other's back no matter what."
What's it like sharing a position with your own brother?
"Well, he usually plays more shooting guard and me more small forward, but it doesn't really matter. If one of us is doing good, the other is feeling great. That's how we won last year. We shared time, supported each other and the team, and we won the French championship together. Everyone was happy."
Although you were born in New York, too, you both play on the national team of the Dominican Republic. What has that experience done for your career?
"Both our parents are from there, and it's a great situation, always an honor to play for your country and represent your country in any tournament. It's a good situation and we've had players who are having a lot of success, like Francisco Garcia and Felipe Lopez. We're a tight-knit group, and it's great to see and play with them in the summers. Some of the guys are hilarious. It's like family."
Looking ahead to the second half of the Euroleague regular season, what do you think will be the key if Strasbourg is to challenge for the Top 16?
"There're like four teams all in the same situation now. From the fourth to the last spot in our group, everyone is fighting to make it. If we can get our wins here at home and then steal one or two on the road, we'll be in a great position to make the Top 16. We've got to stay focused, both on the Euroleague and the French championship, and keep surprising people."