Eric Devendorf is rated as one of the best players to grace a Kiwi basketball court. Sam Worthington puts the tough (and not-so-tough) questions to the Saints' import ahead of tonight's NBL home game against Nelson.
Q. Who are the best players in the New Zealand league?
A. I've only been out here a short time but Lindsay [Saints point guard Lindsay Tait] is one of the better players I've played with. Thomas Abercrombie [Waikato forward] is a good player, those are two that stand out in my head. And Josh Pace [Hawke's Bay guard], I've been playing with and against him for a while so I know what he can do.
You are left-handed but shoot with your right. Why?
I write left-handed, eat left-handed but everything else is right-handed. I throw a baseball, throw a football, all right-handed. I don't know, that's just how it was growing up.
What's your favourite place to eat in Wellington?
It's got to be Public man, that's where I've been going. It's a good place. I get the chicken sandwich with egg on it, that's one of my favourites.
What's the most exciting thing you've done in New Zealand so far?
Just seeing different things with the family, we went to the museum [Te Papa] and seeing stuff we wouldn't see back home. Being right here on the water is real neat, to have my daughter come here and experience something like that.
No bungy jumping?
No, I'm not into all that.
Do you understand rugby?
I understand it a lot more since I've been out here. I still don't really know what's going on but I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Are you a ruck or a lineout man?
I couldn't tell you.
You've signed with the Melbourne Tigers. A good career move?
Yeah, it's a good competitive league and Melbourne's a good city to be in for family, and everything else will be taken care of. It's a good step forward and I'm looking forward to it.
There's whispers of an NBA scout coming to New Zealand to watch you. Care to divulge?
That's what I heard so hopefully it's true. I've just got to keep working hard, playing hard and getting wins and everything else will take care of itself.
I think it's the Phoenix Suns, that's as much as I know.
Steve Nash is getting old ...
He's all right, he's going to be fine.
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
Hopefully, playing back home. That's got to be the No1 goal. But just to be making money and taking care of my family. Wherever I am, that's the No1 thing.
Which NBA team do you support?
Whoever supports me, that's who I'm going to support. I always liked the Detroit Pistons – coming from Michigan I'm a fan of the Pistons.
Who will win the NBA this season?
I feel the Lakers. You've always got to be the favourite when you've got the best player in the league [Kobe Bryant].
Who is LeBron James going to sign with?
I've heard Chicago, I've heard New York. Wherever he feels himself and his family are most comfortable being. Obviously money talks, but you want to be where you're most comfortable.
Who is the funniest player on the Saints and why?
We've got a couple of jokesters on the team, man. I'd probably have to say either George [Le'afa] or Nick [Horvath]. Nick's got a kind of dry, dour sense of humour but it's funny, if you know where he's coming from. He's a good man, very intelligent.
What have you made of the Saints setup?
It's great. The first thing was just making sure my family was good and everybody was comfortable. Right away, when I came here, that was the first thing that they looked after and made sure that my daughter was taken care of and had everything in terms of my family needs. Everything else is going to fall into place as far as basketball goes. I've been loving the experience in Wellington.
The team must be fired up to play Nelson?
Yeah, obviously Nelson's a good team, they've got a couple of veterans on their team in Phill Jones and Co. We've got to go out there and play how we've played in the last five games and everything else will take care of itself.
A win would be crucial to help finish second and get a home semi?
That would be big, knowing if we can beat Nelson there's definitely a good chance. If we can get that win that would be big. Every win is good but knowing we can beat the second-placed team and jump ahead in the standings, it would be all right.
Is winning the league's scoring title an aim?
That doesn't mean much to me. I just came out here and kinda set a goal, to get my name back out there as far as other leagues go, use this as a stepping stone. I think I've done that pretty well so I'm going to continue to play my game and everything else will take care of itself.
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: National Basketball League
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
When: 7pm tonight
Saints: Lindsay Tait, Eric Devendorf, Leon Henry, Casey Frank, Nick Horvath, Erron Maxey, Troy McLean, Damien Ekenasio, George Le'afa, Ross Taurima, Randall Bishop
Nelson: Mike Fitchett, Phill Jones, Mika Vukona, Michael Harrison, Tony Rampton, Darryl Jones, Josh Bloxham, Brad Maclachlan, Nico Ritschny, Samuel Dempster, Bronson Beri, Ben Wright
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