Alan Williams: ‘I enjoy being here and Krasnodar feels like home’

Before the match in Antwerp Alan Williams gave an interview to the official website of the EuroСup, in which he spoke about the team's successes, Krasnodar and plans for the season.
Congratulations on beating AS Monaco on the road. You were really strong on offense and defense. Were you aware that it was a pivotal game, maybe even more important than others?
I don't know if it was more important than others, but it just happened to be the most important thing at the time, if that makes sense. We knew we had to have a good showing, that they're a good team and that's a tough place to win a game, so if we were able to steal a win there, it may be tough for the rest of the teams in our group to do the same. It would give us an advantage if we went out there and won. And obviously, in a city like Monaco, you can easily get distracted by the beach and all of that stuff. But we were really locked in the whole trip and understand that it was a business trip. We went out there and handled our business.
Lokomotiv is 4-1 and on a three-game losing streak. I guess that what happened last season is in the back of your minds and you are trying to avoid it. Did the team learn a lesson from what happened last season?
Absolutely. There is no doubt at least in my mind, as one of the guys that came back to this team, that last year's performance was just unacceptable. It is something we do not want to repeat and I feel like everybody that came back kind of had the same mindset and understood and knew why we didn't make it to the next round last season. And we have just been continuing to avoid that by working hard and not looking at the opponent or looking too far ahead into the future, by just staying locked in.
As you said, this is your second EuroCup season. How do you like the competition and what's the best thing about it?
You know, I think the coolest thing is that every game means so much, you know? When you play in the NBA, there are 82 games and a night here and a night there won't really hurt you too bad. But in the EuroCup, and in the EuroLeague for that matter, every game is just so vital and important for making it to the next stage and continuing to advance. So I think that's the coolest part about is, that you really get to lock in and know that there is a really big game every week.
At 2.01 meters, you are not a big center, but you have been the best rebounder in pretty much every league that you played. What's the secret of rebounding? What do you what so well that you beat players who are bigger than you all the time?
I think a lot of it goes into studying shots, so I sit there and watch shooters shoot so I can know where the ball is going and kind of anticipate its trajectory. My dad taught me at a young age that rebounding is a huge thing and it helps every team. So we really drilled it and worked on it. And then I think it's just a matter of wanting it. I think I play with a lot of energy and strength. And I think that I go out there and I really focus on getting as many rebounds as I possibly can to help my team win. So when I go in there with that mindset, I don't think there's anybody in the world that's a better rebounder than me.
Lokomotiv's next game is in Belgium. It is the first trip that Loko makes to this country since winning the EuroCup title there. Now that you know, are you going to ask Mantas Kalnietis and Coach Pashutin about it?
I didn't even know that! I don't want to ask him about it because I don't want to jinx it. Maybe it's something that hopefully at the end of the year we can talk about and say, 'hey, by the way, we won it in 2013'. And if we win it again in 2021, maybe it's something we'll talk about. But I would try to keep that on a low and just try to focus and make sure that they're locked in and focused, too.
After you play Antwerp, you will host Virtus Segafredo Bologna, the only team that has beaten you until now. Since Virtus and Loko are seen as top contenders, how much of a test is it for both teams going forward?
I know that we can't look too far ahead. Obviously, we know that game is coming and we know the importance of that game. But you can't overlook a team like Antwerp who has a solid team, who plays really hard and especially at home, is going to be a tough challenge for us to go on the road and try to get that road victory. So obviously, Virtus is the number one team in our group right now and somebody that we're really looking forward to playing again, but we just can't look that far forward, and I think my team has the same mindset. We got to stay focused on the game and then we'll worry about the next one when that time comes.
You speak Spanish fluently, but you never lived in a Spanish-speaking country or played on a Spanish team. How is that?
Well, I came to Russia, so that's the reason why I haven't been able to play in a Spanish-speaking country. I played a couple of games in Mexico when I was with the Phoenix Suns and that was a really cool experience to be able to be around that culture. But Spain is on my list of countries to go to. Obviously, I love the Spanish language and speak it and the culture there is so rich, and obviously, basketball is such a huge part of what they do there in Spain. So playing against a team from Spain or playing in Spain at some point in my career is definitely on the list.
In fact, as you said, Lokomotiv has been your only team in Europe until now. How comfortable are you at Lokomotiv and in the city of Krasnodar?
I love it. It's home and I made it home. I enjoy being here. I really love the people, the fans and the organization. Obviously, Coach and I... My play really started to elevate when Coach Pashutin came towards the end of the year last year. He and I have just been continuing to build our relationship and trust each other. And I think it's a good thing for me. It's a good thing for Loko, too. I enjoy being here and Krasnodar feels like home.
Kevin Harvey has been with the team for just three weeks, but you two look like you've played together for a long time. How much of a great addition is he for the team? And how is he off the court?
Super great addition. He's a very smart basketball player, understands the ins and outs of the game, never tries to pressure or force too much. And obviously, as you've seen, he's very talented as well. So I think he comes in and helps us immediately. I mean, he takes us from a very good team to what I believe is an elite team. So on the court, he's great. And obviously off the court, this team, we really gel well together and obviously being on the road so much from and to Krasnodar, every trip is a pretty long one. So we get a lot of time to spend together, and I think that has really helped to build our relationship on the court because you get to spend our time together so much off the court. So it's been really cool.
And finally, do you believe that what happened last season makes your team more dangerous and ready to go all the way?
Yes, that bad taste in our mouth, I think we all feel like we have something to prove. Obviously, Loko is a club that's well-known in the EuroCup and has been known to be very successful in the EuroCup. We want to live up to that name. We want to make our fans proud, the city of Krasnodar proud and our organization proud. And I know that sounds super cliche, but it's definitely something that we really harp on and talk about as a team because we know how good we can be. We just got to continue to try to work hard, not to skip games and just keep our head down and keep pushing. And I think at the end of the day, we'll be really happy with the results.
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