Travis Peterson: "We have to be able to put up 40 minutes good basketball every game"
by Alexander Sotirov
Travis Peterson has already made a name in Bulgarian basketball just for season and a half. Last year, the 208-cm tall center came to Rilski Sportist Samokov straight out of college (Samford in NCAA D1), but showed that he is ready to play big basketball, as he was chosen for last season`s MVP of the EUROHOLD Balkan League. This year he is also in the leading positions in quite a few stats categories such as points (3rd), rebounds (1st), and he is leading in the MVP ranking with 23.8 efficiency rating. He was kind to answer all of our questions.
This is your second consecutive
time in the EUROHOLD Balkan League and as defending champions, it must be
harder for you, as the fans maybe expect you to repeat what you did last
Travis Peterson: Yes, there is a little more pressure but not
from the fans. They are behind us and know that we have a different team and it
takes time. But the competition is definitely harder, because people are always
ready for us and prepare more this year then they did last year.
You were last season’s MVP in the Balkan League, and now, after six rounds you are again on top of the MVP race, does that mean that you have already made the transition from the American style of play to how we play in Europe?
TP: Yes, I believe that I have adjusted to the style of play in Europe. I feel like it fits my game really well. It is a different style out here compared to America but in the end, it is still basketball and you still have to play defense and put the ball in the hoop.
Was it hard for you to adjust your game and get used to all the things different than those in the States, when you came here for the first time?
TP: Not to much, it was more difficult to get use to the culture and different way of life. Basketball is basketball and I was able to adjust with a little bit of time but the way of life, food, people, etc… was the bigger adjustment that I had to make.
You surely are happy that this year you have two more Americans on the team?
TP: Yes, it is really nice to have some other Americans on the team this year. I wouldn’t say it was hard last year because all of the guys on the team are great guys but it is sure nice to be able to talk to people about stuff that is more known to other Americans.
I just can’t go on without asking you what’s your opinion of Lamont Jones, as many of the fans consider him the best foreign player who has ever played in Bulgaria?
TP: Lamont is a great player. We were looking for a true point guard that understood the game really well for our team and he fits just that. He is great at making the right decision and getting the ball to the person that should have it for the right shot. Not to mention that if you leave him he will hurt you by scoring himself.
The fans and specialists consider you to have a better team than the one last year, but you got off to a slow start. You are know starting to play the way you should, do you think you can go all the way to the finals in the Balkan League, the Bulgarian Cup and the NBL?
TP: We have games that we have looked good since Lamont has come and some that we still look like we have some work to get done.We have to be able to put together 40 good minutes of basketball for each game and then we will be at the place we want to be. We will keep on working on these things and will get to the level of play that we all expect ourselves to be playing at.
The EUROHOLD Balkan League has 12 years this year instead of 10, do you think that brings the level of competition to a higher level?
TP: Yes, the teams in this year Balkan League are overall better. There is a lot of competition and it is a tougher league this year.
Did you have any role models, after who you were looking to build your game while you were growing up?
TP: Yes, my role model for my life is definitely my father. He played college basketball back in his day and we have always discussed basketball and he has should me everything that I know about basketball. He was who I looked up to and who I tried to play like when I was growing up. We still today have discussions about basketball and way to beat different defenses and how to stop different defenses. It is great to have someone that has so much knowledge of the game in my corner helping me so much.
Also, since I got to Samford, I was trying to play like Mark Salyers. He now
plays in France and all the coaches told me that I have similar game as him and
have potential like him. I hope to be at a level that he is at sometime in my
What does Travis Peterson do in the time when he’s not in the gym, do you enjoy Bulgaria?
TP: To be honest, I don’t have a ton of time outside of basketball. But I rest a lot to keep my body healthy for games. I love to watch movies and hang out with friends and go get coffee. I also like to see interesting Bulgarian history in Sofia as well as go down there to hang out at a mall or something. Nothing to interesting.
Travis Peterson is currently averaging 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.5 . steals per game. He shoots 71% for 2 points, 36% for 3 and 58% from the charity stripe