Cameron Bairstow is a basketball globetrotter, as he has played professionally in three different countries. Born in Brisbane, Australia, Bairstow moved to the United States to attend the University of New Mexico and started his professional career with Chicago of the NBA. After a couple of seasons in there, Bairstow went home, joining the Brisbane Bullets and now, he is making his EuroCup debut with Rytas. Bairstow has also played for the Australian national team in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He will tell us all about his time in Vilnius, the joy of living in a country fully devoted to the basketball and of course, about Rytas’s run in the 2019-20 7DAYS EuroCup. Welcome to our team, Cameron!
It’s been pretty cool to travel the world and do what I love. I definitely appreciate having had that opportunity not only to play professional basketball, but to go to different places and see different things that a lot of people aren't fortunate enough to do.
There are a lot of differences obviously in the basketball played in the NBA, my native Australia and here in Europe. The game has similar rules everywhere, but the style of play is very different between not just continents, but also nations, as you see over here. The Lithuanian brand of basketball is different than Turkey and playing in France. Each different competitions have their own signature brand or style that they thrive in, so it's definitely been a great learning experience to see different styles of play. The US has great athletes, so they want to play an up-and-down game. Australia has a mix been the European style and the fast pace of America. And I think the European game is a lot more tactical and wanting to take advantage of different things, it’s more of a thought-out disciplined process, I think.
"I think the EuroCup has a reputation for being one of the highest levels of basketball competition in the world."
Every EuroCup game is kind of different based on who you’re playing. You want to play your own style of play, our coach wants to play the Lithuanian style of play, which is very tactical. But if you are playing a team that wants to run, you oftentimes get caught up. So it is oftentimes a clash of styles. It’s been a great experience to play in a competition that has different challenges every night because every team is unique based on who they are and who they have playing for them along with where they are coming from.
I think the EuroCup has a reputation for being one of the highest levels of basketball competition in the world. My expectation coming in was just that in terms of the players being world-class and the teams being world-class. I think everyone has shown that in terms of being very competitive and tough to play against night in, night out. There are no nights off or whatever like you get in some leagues. One hundred percent, any team can beat anyone, they are all really talented and tough.
We played probably our best game to date against Lokomotiv in Game 1 of the EuroCup. They're a great team, a tough team, so we understand if we are going to have a chance to beat them in their place we need to play at that same level or even better. It's a great challenge, but a great opportunity as well.
Vilnius is a complete 180 from where I grew up, Brisbane, Australia, in terms of the climate. Australia is subtropical, where Brisbane is. And the season's in the summer. When we were playing last year, it was 30-32 degrees Celcius in the gym we were training and playing out of. I come here and it’s obviously the opposite of that. So there are a lot of differences, but Vilnius is a great city. It’s got a lot of culture and history behind it. It’s got everything you need. It’s a good-size city. I can't complain. It's been a great place so far.
"Vilnius is a great city. It’s got a lot of culture and history behind it. It’s got everything you need."
We need to continue to improve as a team. Obviously, we have a lot of things to clean up and need to come together as a group. We are halfway through the EuroCup regular season, so we understand the situation is pretty critical for us at this time. We need to put some wins together and play together as a group. That's got to be the focus. Moving forward, we have to take it one game at a time, but we understand that in order to advance that we need to start winning some games.
It’s awesome to play here. the fans are very passionate about the sport. That’s what you want as a player. You don't get that in many places in the world at that level. In most countries, the national sport is soccer or something. The British colonies have rugby or whatnot. So to come from Australia where basketball isn't as well supported to a country where they are very passionate about the sport and the team is a cool experience.