Kyle Wiltjer claims MVP of the week honor
ANKARA (Turkey) - Kyle Wiltjer has been named Gameday 5 MVP in the 2019-20 Basketball Champions League and gives Turk Telekom opponents fair warning that his stellar Wednesday performance is a sign of things to come.
The 27-year-old power forward collected a 33-point, 10-rebound double-double on Wednesday for a display rated at 33 in terms of efficiency, that inspired Turk Telekom's 72-66 comeback win over Filou Oostende at home.
I had some big games in my career when I am a threat every time I am touching the ball - Kyle Wiltjer
The Canadian international had an inkling at the start of the night he was in for a big game, and it all started with a pep talk at home.
"It's funny, my wife actually just got here to Ankara and I have to give her some major props [for this performance]," Wiltjer told championsleague.basketball.
"After watching my last game, she told me to be confident and to be extra aggressive moving forward.
"So going into the Oostende game, during warm-up and the first quarter, I was just thinking to myself that I had to be aggressive and to not worry about missing or making shots.
"When I am aggressive is when I am at my best, I had some big games in my career when I am a threat every time I am touching the ball.
"That's what I tried to do Wednesday and I was really fortunate to start making some shots and I have to give my wife some credit for giving me the extra motivation."
My number one thing is winning and I am going to try to keep this mentality all year, keep the same energy going forward - Kyle Wiltjer
It was also fortunate for Turk Telekom that Wiltjer had an abundance of confidence early on, because while the rest of the team struggled with their shooting he scored the first 7 points for the hosts and kept them afloat even as Oostende grabbed a 10-point lead.
"The first play of the game was drawn up for me," Wiltjer said.
"I think though [a big performance] is more of a mindset thing, it's obviously great when the coach is drawing your number but I think personally I am at my best when I am mixing it up.
"When I am shooting threes to keep the defense honest out there, but also crashing the glass - I think I had a couple of offensive boards and put-backs that got me going as well.
"When I do a combination of everything with an aggressive mentality, it's when l have big games."
My goal is to get as many double-doubles as I can - Kyle Wiltjer
The Turk Telekom power forward says some of his earliest memories involve him watching footage of his father, Greg Wiltjer, playing for FC Barcelona.
Greg also played for Aris Thessaloniki in the late 1980's and Kyle was surprised when the visited Greece to see how many people still remember his father after all these years.
The 27-year-old player isn't making any big promises to Turk Telekom fans but, if he achieves the goals he is setting for himself for the remainder of the season, there is a very good chance the Wiltjer name will be remembered as fondly in the Turkish capital as it is in Barcelona and Thessaloniki.
"[This performance] is definitely a sign of things to come, I am going to play very aggressive this year," Wiltjer said.
"My number one thing is winning and I am going to try to keep this mentality all year, keep the same energy going forward.
"I am trying to show that I am consistent with my rebounding at the four position, my goal is to get as many double-doubles as I can.
On Wednesday night, Wiltjer's confidence and aggressive approach rubbed off on the rest of the team after the interval.
Turk Telekom turned the tables on Oostende in the second half to claim their fourth win in five games this season and stay atop the Group A standings.
"We´re just hoping for a good year, one step at a time, we hope to advance to the next phase of the BCL and then work on it from there," he said.
"I think we have a great group of guys, very unselfish guys, high-character guys.
"I will keep working hard on the glass and we will keep working hard as a team."