Damien Inglis feeling at home with SIG Strasbourg
LONDON (Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider) - After being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, with the first pick, in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Damien Inglis has spent time in the NBA, the G League and recently in Italy with Capo d'Orlando.
Now back at home in France with SIG Strasbourg, 22-year-old Damien Inglis is playing some of the best basketball of his career - in the Basketball Champions League especially. Inglis spoke to the Basketball Champions League website about settling in at SIG and the journey so far.....
After moving to the USA and a spell in Italy, you decided to come back to France by signing with SIG Strasbourg. Can you talk about your decision to come back to France?
"I think I took the right decision to come back to France after my experience in the NBA and in the G-League," Said Inglis. "I went to Italy, but the project moved in a different way to what I expected and I got an offer to come to Strasbourg. I am really enjoying being here and I feel great to be in such a competitive and ambitious team. I took a bit of time to get used to SIG Strasbourg’s way of playing, but now I feel very comfortable in Vincent Collet’s systems. I am happy to be here, and I want to keep helping the team win games."
Now averaging 11.4 PPG and 4.4 RPG Inglis has certainly found a role with SIG, that has enabled him to maximise his abilities. At 2.03M (6'8") tall, with an impressive 2.2M (7'3") wingspan, Inglis has the physical attributes and defensive versatility of an NBA wing. For SIG Strasbourg however, Coach Collet has primarily utilized Inglis at the Power Forward. His ability to guard multiple positions on defense and put the ball on the floor on offense has made Inglis a match-up nightmare for Basketball Champions League opponents. If teams switch guards onto him on the offensive end, Inglis has the strength to back down smaller players in the post and crafty footwork to get to the front of the rim. On the defensive end, Inglis is able to stay in front of guards and wall-up dribble drives, without calling for help.
Against bigger players, Inglis has the combination of strength and speed to be equally disruptive. In the first clip below, you see Inglis hold his own in the post against Simas Galdikas. Galdikas has been able to physically impose his will on most opponents this season - Inglis doesn't give ground and uses his length to poke the ball loose. On the offensive end, teams generally instruct their bigs to stand off and dare Inglis to shoot - the problem with this tactic, is that the Frenchman has now adapted to use this extra space, to get up a head of steam. Inglis loves to use spin moves and has enough bounce to get up and throw it down.
What did you learn during the years you spent overseas?
"I learned a lot both at human and basketball level. Spending those years away from France helped me get more mature and to gain experience at the highest level."
Inglis also attributed his increased work ethic to his time in the USA.
"It helped me get a very intense work ethic in order to improve on my game. Being in the NBA was a very good experience. Their work ethic is very competitive and you have to be working as hard as your teammates to keep the pace and have minutes on the court. The methods were different to the ones I was used to in France, and I really learned a lot during those years overseas."
After playing in the NBA, in the G-League and in the Italian League, what do you think about the level of the Basketball Champions League?
"I am not surprised by the fact that it is a very competitive tournament. There are plenty of very good teams and a lot of them can fight for the title. We played against a lot of guys that I didn’t know about and that I found that they are very good players, so I really enjoy playing in this competition. I am sure that the level will keep growing year after year, and a lot of teams would like to compete at this level. It’s a great opportunity to show your game and talent against great teams of the continent."
How was the team spirit after the qualification against Neptunas Klaipeda?
"We are in a very good dynamic," said Inglis. "The two games against Neptunas were very intense, and the game at home was probably one of the best games we played this season. Neptunas played very well, probably the team that gave us the most difficulties since the beginning of the competition. We got a bit surprised and went through tough times during the first game and the first half of the second leg game, but we were able to bounce back in the second half and qualify for the quarterfinals. We played with pride and with the only goal to qualify for the next round."
That return leg at home, was possibly SIG Strasbourg's best game this season but it was certainly Inglis' best showing. Outstanding on both ends, Inglis was pivotal and enabled Vincent Collet, to gain traction from their small-ball line-up, down the stretch of the 4th Quarter.
On the battle with AEK in the Quarter-Finals...
"We did play against them in the group stage and they were two very difficult games. We know them very well and the team is very competitive, very hard to play against. The three games we have played against them were very, very complicated. Their crowd is very intense, and it is like they play with a sixth man on their side. I am sure that they were waiting for these games to try and turn things around after the two losses in the group stage. We have to be ready and play at our highest level. The goal is to go to the next round. We are ready."
So clearly the goal for SIG Strasbourg is to win the Basketball Champions League?
"There are only eight teams left and we want to fight for the title. If we made it to this point, why not keeping being ambitious? We have plenty of talent and we would like to bring a title back home, so we are going to play this competition with all of our motivation and a high level of ambition. It is going to be tough as every team that is in the last eight can make it to the final and to the title, but we want to give it all and win the Basketball Champions League."
SIG Strasbourg and Damien Inglis are hungry to bring the title home
After leaving Athens down nine, SIG Strasbourg have their backs to the wall in their pursuit of the Basketball Champions League title. It took the entire first quarter, to adjust to the atmosphere in the OAKA and tempo set by their hosts. Adjust they did though and the fact that SIG were able to exchange lead changes during the game, bodes well. SIG Strasbourg also have an intense home atmosphere of their own - as Neptunas Klaipeda found out - and in the likes of Dee Bost, Miro Bilan, Zack Wright, Louis Labeyrie, Levi Randolph and Damien Inglis, they have game changers all over the roster. Inglis himself, has already taken a game by the scruff in the Round of 16, no doubt the Frenchman will be ready to defend home-court again on the 4th of April.
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