MM All-Star and GB International Ashley Hamilton is taking his talents back to Greece this season to play in the top division of professional basketball in one of Europe’s strongest leagues. The ‘do-it-all’ wing will be playing for Lavrio, who have aspirations of challenging for the Greek title in just their second season in Greek’s premier division.
We caught up with ‘AGP’ when he touched down in Athens, on his way to going his team for pre-season to get his thoughts on the season ahead:
SM (Swarzy Macaly): Congratulations on the signing Ash – this is huge news for you and for the players all across Britain as you continue to prove that Britain has talent that has to be respected in European basketball’s top divisions! You are definitely an inspiration to so many of the younger players looking for role models amongst our pro’s to show them that it can be done, are you aware of the impact you’re having with the next generation?
AH: Thanks Swarz. It’s a blessing that I get to play the game I love as my job and I’m grateful for the opportunity to go out and show what I’m capable of and feel proud to represent all the players in GB looking to do the same thing some day. As much as I love to play and compete, I do take my job very seriously and dedicate myself everyday to being at my best and pushing to continue to get better. If other players take inspiration from that, I’m happy to be able to show them it can be done if they put the work in.
SM: How does it feel to be going into Greek basketball’s top division as a projected starter for a team who are obviously looking to make waves in the division this season?:
AH: I’m excited for the new season. Last year had its ups and downs for me as you know (Ed: Ash sat out some of last season with an injury), but I’ve had some quality rest and time to really prepare properly for this season and I feel great and ready to go. As long as our whole team can stay healthy, I like our chances against anyone as we’re athletic and also Lavrio have amazing fans so I expect us to be tough to beat at home and we’ll look to jump on teams on the road. I’m coming out here for full pre-season so we should have good chemistry by the time the season gets going and that will be the key.
SM: Last season Ovie Soko had an outstanding season in the Greek top division, finishing 3rd in scoring and also rebounding. You both have similar athleticism and ability and of course from the same place, do you feel there is an expectation for you to have a season like his being that you are both similar?
AH: What Ovie did last year was amazing – Justin too, on the same team. I’m proud of them both. Devon also played well in the division and Ogo has a great reputation established in this league from previous seasons – so I don’t feel any pressure or expectation to show what British players can do in this league, that’s already been proven. For me, I try to come out and play my game and impact the game for the team win and it might be different things on different nights. I know I have a main role on this team and I’ll be playing accordingly. Some nights I’ll score, others I’ll rebound or be setting up team mates or locking down on d (defense) – it depends on match ups and what’s required from my coach. I don’t worry about the numbers, my focus is on continuing to improve and finding ways to help my team win. As long as those two things are happening, I’m good.
SM: You’ve had a career that has sometimes been held back by injury which has meant that not everyone has really gotten to see AGP unleashed. Speaking to Nhamz (MM founder Nhamo Shire), he says when you’re at your best there is nobody out there better than you as you bring the complete game to the table. What do you expect for the season ahead, playing at full health in this league?
AH: Injuries are all a part of the game and professional players need to understand and adapt to that. I learnt that in college. They have definitely slowed me down, and as a result, a lot of people do not really know what I’m capable of. I’ve shown flashes, but consistency is the key for me. Health is wealth, a good state of health will allow me to build consistency and after that, the sky is the limit. I’ve been blessed with a good body for this game and I repair well so coming into this season fully healthy, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in this league. To be honest, I don’t even know what I am ultimately capable of as I feel I am still improving and have so much to work on to be where I want to be. My focus is just taking care of things I can control, which is my preparation mentally, physically and also skills wise. Everything else should take care of itself.
SM: Thanks for your time Ash, we’ll be covering you all season and wish you the very best in both your pre-season and full season ahead!
You can stay up to date with every step of AGP’s season in Greece with the new season of About To Go In – featured each week on midnightmadness.tv from late September.
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Photo Credit: Nat Dodman