[EXCLUSIVE] Zach LeDay: Playing for Zeljko Obradovic in Partizan Belgrade is like EuroLeague”

Zach LeDay
head coach Zeljko Obradovic and Zach LeDay KK Partizan-Prvi Trening-Okupljanje Beograd, 16.08.2021. foto: Srdjan Stevanovic/Starsportphoto ©

Zach LeDay talked about himself in an exclusive interview with BasketInside. The great signing of Partizan Belgrade spoke about the team, the environment and the great coaches he has had today and in the past. Enjoy the interview with Zach LeDay.

How are you in Belgrade? What was the first impact of Zach LeDay with the city?

“The city is very nice and also the weather very good, there’s a lot of things to do in Belgrade. The most important is thing is stay healthy and be able to begin the preparation.”

And with the team?

We are a very young team and we have to make sure to teach well the young guys how to play the game in the right way and be successful. We are trying to be better everyday, listening the coach and the way he wants to play and try to do it in the highest level possible.”

What feelings give you a coach like Zeljko Obradovic in this first weeks with Partizan?

“He’s always thinking basketball. I’m always trying to learn from every coach and place and of course I want to learn a lot from him. He’s thinking a lot about the game and how to play at highest level, he sees we are young so it’s good to play fast and match the learnings that he wants.”

You are among the absolute favorites, both for the Adriatic League and for the EuroCup. Do you feel the pressure of having to win at all costs?

“Personally, I’m not paying attention about these things. I’m fully focused what we have to do in the locker room and on the court as a group and as a team. If we continuing to work hard day by day, especially in this pre-season, I feel we’ll have the best chances to achieve it at the end of the year.”

Going back to last season, you were one of the best player at Olimpia Milano and certainly a great player in the EuroLeague. Do you think last season was fundamental season for your growth as a player?

Yes, It was! But I think every season in my career is fondamental for my growth as a player. In my mind, every year I try to better.. do what the coach wants and just to work hardest possible and try to get better. Last season was a great step in my career, being at the Final Four for the first time! Man, it was amazing. I learn a lot from that and I still want to be humble and hungry.”

Surprisingly, then, the divorce between Zach LeDay and Olimpia Milano. This news was reached as a surprise by so many people. Can you tell us the reasons for this decision?

“There were different factors… but at the end of the day what happened is what happened. I’m grateful and blessed to go there and had experience… help the team to reach the Final Four after almost 30 years. We made a very important season in EuroLeague and I’m grateful to be part of this. I absolutely learn a lot from everyone in Milan.”

Zach LeDay
KK Partizan Belgrade

Do you consider Partizan Belgrade a small “step back” in your career today, to have big steps forward in the continuation of your career?

“I don’t think play for Zeljko Obradovic is a step back in your career (laugh ndr.). I just try to get better everyday and continuing my growth… and what I want to achieve is winning as much as possible. I’m grateful for my experience and continuing to learn with a legendary Coach as Obradovic.”

Kevin Punter followed you to Partizan. What player and above all what person is he?

“KP is a great guy and a great teammate. I love to work with him. He’s not scare to play big games, championship games…He’s a killer on the floor. That’s a kind of player you need to have to win. In Belgrade we’ll try to do something like in Milan and achieve great results after so many years.”

During these years, who has impressed you the most as a teammate?

“That’s a tough question! I had so many great teammates… but for example, I learn a lot from Kyle Hines. We play in the same position… he’s a great leader. But It’s not easy to make a choice… I learn from every teammate. I try to learn day by day and year by year. All this must help me to become more and more a leader and get more and more victories in my career.

And as an opponent?

“It depends on every night… Shengelia, Mirotic, Polonara… there’s a lot of good Forwards in EuroLeague. Also Singleton is very good… you have to prepare yourself to go to “war” because you have to be sure to do everything to get the win for your team.”

You’ve had great coaches in your European career. If you can, please describe me the following names, with your personal tough about each one.

David Blatt.

“It was his last year coaching when I was in his team. He was very relaxed but he was “hard” on me… he wanted me to became a better player. He did whatever he could. He’s very intelligent… I mean he coached LeBron James! He achieved a lot in his career and I’m grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to came to EuroLeague in my 2nd professional season in Europe with Olympiacos.”

Sarunas Jasikevicius.

“Saras is like a technician. I learn a lot from him in Zalgiris. He’s defense system is very good and everyone must work together. Jasikevicius is very very intelligent, a good guy and also very “hard”. He tried to push me to get better every day. I can say that he prepared me very well for the next stage of my career.”

Ettore Messina.

“Ettore Messina is a very passionate and emotional Coach. He gave me the opportunity to come to Milan and I thank him for this. His NBA experience helping him a lot in European Basketball. He was different… he knows that the game changes during the years.”

I know it’s early, but do you see something similar from this 3 Coaches with Zeljko Obradovic?

“Obradovic, Messina, Jasikevicius and Blatt are all very completely different people. You have to learn a lot from this “teachers”. Obradovic is a legend, so intelligent. Here with Partizan we have a young group who have to improve day by day.”

You participated in the Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks. After leaving the NCAA, you immediately came to Europe, to Israel. Is the NBA a dream in Zach LeDay’s head?

“Honestly, I’m just focused on today. I want to continue to improve and win. NBA is a dream since I was a kid… but right now I want to improve my best version of myself.”

Versione in Italiano dell’intervista a Zach LeDay.


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