Having spent four years playing overseas prior to coming to the NBA, Swedish-born Jonas Jerebko understands all too well how the rules of engagement are different against international competition.
“The referees over there, they let a little but more stuff go I’ve noticed,” Jerebko told CSNNE.com. “It’s a little different game.”
The Celtics will find out just how different it is this week as they embark on a two-game European preseason tour that includes games against Olimpia Milano and Real Madrid on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
Jerebko isn’t the only Celtic familiar with playing against international competition.
Boston big man Kelly Olynyk spent two months playing for the Canadian National team this summer in its quest to qualify for the 2016 Summer Games.
Olynyk agrees that playing against international players presents a different set of challenges for NBA players. In fact, the 7-foot big man suffered a left knee injury playing for Team Canada this summer that sidelined him for a few games.
“That’s why you see guys struggle in international games at the start,” Olynyk said. “The NBA is a real physical game, but the international game … they let you get away with stuff, holding, different stuff. All of a sudden, you go to hit them back and they flop. You get mad and get a technical.”
The increase in physical play will bode well for Boston’s big men who could use as much work in being physical as they can get between now and the start of the season.
Boston center Tyler Zeller is looking forward to getting on the floor and facing someone other than teammates.
“After a while you get tired of beating up on one another,” Zeller told CSNNE.com. “So it’ll be good for us to get out there against another team.”
Zeller will be playing overseas for the first time, although it wasn’t his first opportunity.
While in high school, Zeller said there was a senior trip planned to France. However, he was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game (it was played in Milwaukee that year), which coincided with the trip to France.
So Zeller chose Milwaukee over France?
“I know, crazy right?” grinned Zeller. “But it was worth it; it was a good time.”
And he’s hoping for more of the same this week in Europe.
“Just get better individually and as a team,” he said. “That’s really what this week, training camp really, is about. Just trying to get better, improve and hopefully that’ll lead to a lot of wins this year.”