Now in his fourth season with LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, David Lighty is one of the trusted leaders of a very young and hungry team. Through three rounds in the 7DAYS EuroCup, ASVEL has looked strong. The team comes off back-to-back wins and already has its eyes on a spot in the Top 16. Along the way, it has competed well despite losing two big men to injuries and relying on a teenager to play key minutes at point guard. Lighty talks about ASVEL, highlights some of the key players and reveals what has helped his team succeed in this first EuroCupBasketball.com blog this season.
We are 2-1 in our EuroCup group and this is a very good sign. Anything that has to do with advancing, you have to take care of at home. The win over Turk Telekom was a big win for us to continue through this group, it's a tough one. If we take care of business at home, I think we'll be good enough to advance. We had a very good game against Turk Telekom, which is a strong team with a lot of good players. Everyone came out ready, everyone was focused from Amine Noua on offense hitting threes, then Charles Kahudi came in and gave us a lift and then Mantas [Kalnietis] as well. We have a lot of experienced guys who can play the game and I think it's just been our thing all year so far, just building. We have different players who can attack, not one player we have to rely on.
We have had injuries, but Eric Buckner and Noua have been doing very well as has Miro Bilan. Eric has come in and given us that extra piece that we need. The athleticism. He changes so many shots on defense; you can see the big block he had last game. Guys come to the paint and they see him and that makes a difference. It allows us to pressure defense on the guards. It makes things tougher when you know you have a guy like that back there to help out and block shots and make a difference. It's just team defense, really. Coach stresses team defense a lot, being aggressive and playing hard and I think that's what we try and take after.
"Coach stresses team defense a lot, being aggressive and playing hard and I think that's what we try and take after."
And when we have a full frontcourt with Alpha Kaba and Livio Jean-Charles back, we will be even stronger. We know those guys, we've played with them before. So once they get healthy, I think they're just going to be bigger pieces for our team and make us that much more dangerous with guys that can do so many different things and different lineups that we can always put in the game.
In Round 2 we beat Trento, which is one of my former teams. It was the second straight year I played against them. It was a great experience for sure. Those guys have been great. To see what they've done the last four or five years in the Italian League and growing the friendships and bonds from being with the team has been great. For them, you go back-to-back finals in the Italian League, that's special. The year before that, I think, the EuroCup Finals. So it's just good to see those guys and see them doing well.
This week we will play against Partizan, in Belgrade, at one of the most famous arenas in Europe! I'm looking forward to it. To go on the road and be in that atmosphere is what basketball is about. This is what makes it fun. We know their fans are passionate, their team is strong. we all know the history. It's a great basketball city, a great basketball club. Just to be in that atmosphere, this is what basketball is about. When you grow up, you think about playing these big matchups. The atmosphere there is what you want. If it was our fans it would be great, but I like playing on the road as well. The atmosphere, that crowd, that's what you want. It's something special. I think it will be a good test for our team to see how we handle adversity.
"This is what basketball is about. When you grow up, you think about playing these big matchups."
This is my fourth season with ASVEL and sometimes people ask me what's so special about the team and why I came back after spending one season in Italy. I say it's everything as a whole. I know my role, I know my position. I knew what I was getting into, what they wanted from me. And the city, the club, the project that we have. The first two years I was here, [team president] Tony [Parker] said it was about championships. We built that and we got a championship. Now he's talking about further even pushing it. Playing EuroLeague and winning EuroCup and things like that. So each two years has been something special. The way we have started the season so far has been great, so hopefully, we can finish it with our main objective and goal of winning it all.
Tony's pretty hands on. We talk to him, he's always open. We can text him whenever. He'll call us and talk to us after games and before games, just encouraging us. Preseason he's around working out with us and coming to games. He's a real down-to-earth normal guy. You think of Tony Parker, you're thinking of one of the best European players ever. He's real cool about his business; he knows the game. If you want a basketball mind to talk to, it's Tony. To know that your team president is a player I think helps guys out and makes him more relatable. You see him play one night, you talk to him the next night. He's been on pretty much every stage at the highest level, won championships in Europe, championships in the NBA. It's weird, but it's a good weird.
Tony Parker started as a young player in the French League, just as Theo Maledon is now. He is going to be an amazing player. Just the growth from seeing him play last year to the confidence that he has this year is very big for him. I think in the next couple of year for sure you'll see him fulfilling his dreams, becoming an NBA player, things like that. The sky is the limit for him. He works every day and I think that's the main thing, building confidence to see that he can play at this level. I think he's showed in a couple games so far – it's still early – that as long as he stays in the gym and develops his confidence – and we help him along the way, the sky is the limit for him for sure. He's going to be a special one. Basketball wise, his size as a guard – he's a big guard and he's still growing – I special. As a point guard, his pace and his feel for the game at his age for the offensive end is something that you don't see a lot, especially for a 17-year-old. How he reads pick-and-rolls, how he gets to the basket and just makes the right plays. I think he's only going to get better as he learns what he can and can't do and time and situations.
For us as a team, the key right now is being strong at home. Doing what we can on the road is going to be tough, especially this next road game going to Belgrade, it's going to be a tough one. If we take care of home, I think we have a chance. All the coaches come up with good game plans for us. If we stick to them, listen to them, I think we'll be able to advance and make some noise in the next round.