Stephane Lasme, Panathinaikos Athens

Nov 28, 2012 by Javier Gancedo, Print
Stephane Lasme, Panathinaikos Athens
Stephane Lasme - Panathinaikos Athens - EB12While wearing three different uniforms in as many Turkish Airlines Euroleague seasons, jumping-jack forward Stephane Lasme has certainly found very interesting places to play. In his first stop, Lasme helped Partizan Belgrade reach the playoffs in 2009 as the team's top overall performer. A year later, with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, he went against his ex-team, Partizan, in another playoff series, but lost. Now, as if he's making a tour of the great fan bases of Europe, the 29-year-old native of Gabon is helping Panathinaikos rebuild as it drives for the Top 16. Lasme has been incredible for the Greens, making 17 of 20 two-point shots and 17 of 21 free throws as the team's leading rebounder (6.3 per game) and the Euroleague's top shot-blocker (2.2 per game) so far. Indeed, in production-per-minute played, Lasme is the fourth-ranked player in the competition. He certainly ranks high in enthusiasm, too, which is evident in his play and the way he talks about helping the Greens strive this season. "Just knowing it's a rebuilding project makes it special," Lasme told "I think it's an honor to be part of this team with such big history. To learn more and more from them is a great opportunity in my career."

You have missed just seven shots, including free throws, all season. What is making you so effective when it comes to scoring?

"The team is playing me in the right situation. The style we are playing, the way the team uses me in offense, makes it easy for me to get easy baskets. It's all team work."

You have been without Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Gaios Skordilis, Hilton Armstrong or Kostas Tsartsaris so far - all have missed games. How have you managed to adjust and stay so effective?

"I think it's just an effort from everybody. Everybody stepped up their game. We saw what Mike Bramos did the last couple games. It's not just one player; it's never just one player. The whole team is focused on doing the right thing. We have a very good team, we have a very talented team and if we lose one guy, the rest try for the best. So we haven't felt the effect of the absentees yet."

You lead the Euroleague in blocks, 13, with none received. What are the keys to block shots and not getting blocked at the other end? Is it instinct or something you practice?

"I think it's mostly instinct. I have never really practiced blocking shots. It's definitely more like an instinct and of course it helps a lot that I am athletic. It helps a lot defensively, but also offensively."

Panathinaikos faces Union Olimpija Ljubljana this week. You will face Aron Baynes, one of the best centers in the Euroleague this season. How do you like this player and how can he be stopped?

"I think Baynes is a very tough player. He is really hard to guard. I think it is going to take everybody's help, especially if we eventually miss Sofo, who was a big part of stopping him in the first game. We all have to try. It's what the coaching staff will tell us and also what the team will do. It's always team effort in basketball."

After some time away, you are back in the Euroleague with a rock-solid contribution. Do you feel that your hard work has paid off this season?

"I am a great believer of hard work. I believe that if you work hard, it is going to show somehow eventually. Personally, I feel lucky to be part of this winning experience here in Panathinaikos and also because the coach trusts me. I feel I fit perfectly in this team."

How special was it for you to join Panathinaikos, considering its recent history, for a team rebuilding season?

"Just knowing it's a rebuilding project makes it special. I think it's an honor to be part of this team with such big history. To learn more and more from them is a great opportunity in my career."

Stephane Lasme - Panathinaikos Athens - EB12_41871You've played for some great crowds between Partizan, Maccabi and Panathinaikos. Can you compare them? Do they give you energy or pressure?

"Panathinaikos has some great fans. I played in Maccabi and Partizan, and they had amazing fans too. I think all three of them are equally... crazy, if I can put it that way. I think it's fun to play with them, but personally I don't pay attention too much to fans when I play. I try to stay focused on the game. But I think they add energy to the game. I don't feel the pressure from fans because they are always with us no matter what. Most of the time we feel like they're the sixth player on the floor."

What's it like playing with someone like Dimitris Diamantidis, who has a reputation for making teammates better?

"I just think he's got a high basketball IQ. You really underestimate it when you play against him. It's not until I came here this year that I really understood how good of a player he is. He's really deceptive, the way he looks, the way he plays. But he's one of the big-time players out there."

For a rebuilding team, the new Top 16 format could be a help, with 14 games to keep coming together. What do you think about the change?

"The more games, the less practice, you know. I think it's more fun. The more games you play the more chance you have to show your talent as a team and as an individual player. I think it's a great thing for the Euroleague also. It shows that the league keeps expanding every year, changing and adapting."

Besides being part of that Top 16 round, what goals do you and Panathinaikos have this season?

"Just winning one game at a time. Not trying to set goals too high or too low. Just winning every single game and just build the team so it gets stronger and stronger and we can bring the Panathinaikos name to where it's supposed to be."