Marc Salyers, Le Mans

Sep 30, 2009 by Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net Print
Marc Salyers - Le Mans (Photo msb.fr David Piolé)_21685Fresh off his first official game since December, few people would have noticed that Marc Salyers has been away from the game for so long. On Tuesday Salyers led Le Mans to an important 61-60 home win against Alba Berlin in Game 1 of the Euroleague Qualifying Round with 28 points. He was a stronger and sharp as ever in helping Le Mans take a 1-point lead in the two-game series, which now move to O2 World in the German capital for a do-or-die Game 2. Salyers wants to return to the Euroleague for the first time since winning the 2008 Alphonso Ford Top Scoring Trophy with Chorale Roanne. It is his one and only goal right now, as he told us in this Euroleague.net interview. "It means everything for me. Like I said, I came to Le Mans because we had a good chance to qualify to the Euroleague. That is my number one goal this season. I want to play in the Euroleague and if we don't, I feel it would be a disappointing season regardless of what happens," Salyers told Euroleague.net. "I am going to make sure I do everything I can so that doesn't happen. We have to qualify."

Hello, Marc. First things first. After winning Game 1 by a point, what did you and your teammates learn that you need to use in the second, deciding game on Friday in Berlin?

"We learned that defense wins games like this. If we battle and fight on defense, even if we have a bad offensive game, we can still win. I don't expect someone like Dee Spencer to have another bad offensive game because he is a great player. If we play defense and play hard, we will beat Alba in Berlin."

In Game 1, Le Mans had a great start and despite some problems during the fourth quarter, you guys managed to win the game. Is it what you expected?

"No, not too much. I thought they would come out a little harder. I knew we would start strong and fight from the opening jump but they decided to start playing hard a little later. It was good for us that we overcame Alba because Le Mans always had good close games in Euroleague history but never won them. They always lost by 2 or 3 points. It is good that Le Mans could get to a close Euroleague game and win it."

You scored 28 of your team's 61 points in Game 1. Does that sum up the role that Coach Jackson has given you?

"No, not really. I think it was just a rare occasion. Obviously, I can score a lot of points, I led the Euroleague in scoring a couple of years ago. I think that other players have to play more of a major role than they did in Game 1. Once I noticed that they weren't scoring as much as they usually do, I tried to do the best for my team."

Alba hosts the second game with up to 15,000 diehard fans expected at O2 World in Berlin. How much of an advantage does that give Alba?

"They have a great home crowd but at the same time I love it. The more fans, the better, I don't care if they cheer for me or against me. I think that everybody on our team will be ready and will feed off that energy. I don't think there will be too much of a home-court advantage."

Marc Salyers - Le Mans (Photo msb.fr David Piolé)How does it feel to be playing for something so important - a berth in the Euroleague - at the very start of the season?

"It is coming a little quickly, you know. Normally, we have a year to prepare before games as critical as this is. It is really important for me. It is a personal goal mark and one of the reasons that I came to Le Mans was to play in the Euroleague. The game in Berlin is one of the most important for me this season."

Was it tough for you, as a newcomer to Le Mans, to adjust to a new situation, especially knowing you faced such critical games so soon?

"It wasn't a tough adjustment. I already played in France, everybody knows me and I know everybody. That part was not that tough to adjust to, but as far as the Euroleague Qualifying Rounds goes, it is always tough to be ready to go so early in the season. Basically, we have to get in playoff shape at the very start of the season. That part was a little bit more difficult, but we hope to play four games and qualify."

As everyone knows, you won the Euroleague scoring title in 2008 and received the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer trophy at the Final Four in Madrid during the 50 Years of European Basketball celebration. What do you remember about that weekend, with so many legends in one place?

"It was great to be part of that. I really got lucky that my Euroleague debut season happened to be the 50th anniversary, so I could be part of that Final Four. It was a special moment, having so many legends in there with the chance to meet them, like Arvydas Sabonis, Bob McAdoo and people like that. It was a great experience for me and something I will remember in my career regardless of what happens. Being handed the trophy from McAdoo was special. He was a great player and I always heard about him ever since I came to Europe. You always hear stories about players like him. It was great to have the chance to finally meet him and shake hands."

Let’s talk a bit about life off the court. You are running a video blog on Facebook, Ballin' on a Budget. What is that about and where did it come from?

"I got the idea from my teammate Zack Wright. He started posting these funny videos, so I decided to do the same and tell my friends back home what was going on over here. Some of them have never been to Europe so I started to make some short videos to try to keep them informed about what's happening. I really haven't done as many videos as I wanted because I had some friends coming over in the last couple of weeks, but now that they are gone, I will try to update it as much as I can."

Last but not least, what would it mean for you and Le Mans to be back in the Euroleague this season?

"It means everything for me. Like I said, I came to Le Mans because we had a good chance to qualify to the Euroleague. That is my number one goal this season. I want to play in the Euroleague and if we don't, I feel it would be a disappointing season regardless of what happens. I am going to make sure I do everything I can so that doesn't happen. We have to qualify."