Wed, Nov 07, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Greg Smith eyeing SBL playoff spot

Staff writer, with CNA

Greg Smith of Bank of Taiwan is interviewed in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: CNA

Former NBA player Greg Smith feels the healthiest he has been in years and is looking forward to leading his new team into the playoffs in the SBL this season.

Bank of Taiwan announced last month that they had signed the 27-year-old former NBA center-forward.

Smith arrived in Taiwan over the weekend to prepare for pre-season games that begin today before the 16th SBL season starts on Nov. 18.

Speaking to the Central News Agency in an interview on Monday evening, Smith said he is now 100 percent healthy and he is excited about the new season.

“I am ready to go all the way,” he said.

Asked about his goals in his first SBL season, Smith said he is prepared to be the leading scorer for the relatively young team to help them make a deep run in the playoffs.

“It won’t be easy. It’s going to take working hard every day, but I think we can push into the playoffs and go further,” he said.

Bank of Taiwan finished at the bottom of the SBL standings last season.

Smith did not want to talk about the team’s last-placed finish, stressing that we would look ahead instead of looking back.

“If you think about last year it could hurt you. We have the talent and we should be able to do it [go deeper in the playoffs],” he said.

After not being picked in the 2011 NBA draft, Smith first played in Mexico before finding his way back into the NBA.

He played for a number of NBA teams over five seasons, averaging four points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Smith then went on to play for teams in Turkey in 2016, and the Philippines and Japan last year.

His NBA career was held back in part by injuries. After his best season in the league, when he averaged 15.9 minutes per game in 70 games for the Houston Rockets during the 2012-2013 season, he hurt his right knee early the following season.

He only played in 11 games for the Rockets that year and never played more than 42 games again in an NBA season (with the Dallas Mavericks in 2014-2015).

Smith said that his knees have continued to bother him over the past few seasons, but feels he is now fully healthy for the first time in years.

Looking back on his time with the Rockets, Smith remembers getting along well with Taiwanese-American player Jeremy Lin.

“Our two years in Houston together were wonderful. I saw him grow as a player even until today. I love him. He was so humble,” Smith said.

He said the point guard used to make fun of him in his rookie year with the Rockets.

“Every practice he got a new joke. He’s just a fun guy,” Smith said.

Making fun of each other off the court actually brought the two players closer together and helped with their chemistry on the court, Smith added.

Looking to the new season, Smith said he would bring a lot of energy to his team for the full 40 minutes every game.

“Whether we make the shot or not, we’re going for the rebound and playing hard. [If we do that], good things will happen,” he said.

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