Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Profile: Michel Jean Baptiste Adolphe, Paris Levallois
Nov 14, 2014
After making a debut in the competition last season, Paris Levallois has returned to Eurocup for this campaign with a roster featuring a healthy mix of young players and seasoned veterans. One of the latter, a man who will turn 35 years old at the end of this calendar year, is center Michel Jean Baptiste Adolphe, who is also known as JBAM.
Undersized for his position at 2.05 meters, JBAM has been battling and making his way in the paint across the continent with his huge body frame. After spending the last four seasons with Chalon-sur-Saone, he returned this summer to Paris, a place where he got the first taste at the elite level in 2007. He is averaging 6.0 rebounds off the bench in his second Eurocup campaign, and also contributes with 2.6 points and 1.0 assists. JBAM is one of the best rebounders in the Eurocup; he is ranked fourth on a per-minute basis with a prorated average of 14.6 boards per 40 minutes.
One of the strongest players in the competition, he also has one of the longest names - and a very short nickname: “[The] explanation for my nickname is simple: my surname Jean Baptiste Adolphe is too long. So, I just decided to use the first letter for each name of my surname, JBA. Then, I also added the first letter of my first name. That’s how I got JBAM on my jersey,” he explained.
JBAM helped Chalon win everything in France in 2011-12 season – the French League, French Cup and Semaine d'As – and as he was about to make his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut the following season, he used the summer months for a new basketball adventure. He played for France in the first ever 2012 FIBA 3x3 World Championships. “That was a new experience for me, playing for the French national team, but not playing 3-on-3,” JBAM said of the experience. “Every guy playing basketball 5-on-5 starts playing 3-on-3 on the playground.”
The event was not a run-of-the-mill tournament or a pick-up game with his friends. This was for the world title, where other nations appeared with well-known players. Spain was represented by, among others, former Euroleague greats and world champions Jorge Garbajosa and Carlos Jimenez and host Greece sent Panathinaikos Athens guard Nikos Pappas and former Euroleague champ Giorgos Bogris. Even more than the level of competition, playing for France at an official event was something JBAM had dreamed about his entire career.
“Ever since I started playing basketball my objective was to put on the national team jersey. But if you look at our national team, with Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and others, I know I don’t have much of a chance to play 5 on 5 basketball for the national team,” he said. So when he was called to participate for the French 3x3 national team, JBAM never even blinked. “When they told me I was selected to play 3-on-3 for France, I said okay, why not, it is a good chance to put on my national team jersey. I don’t care if it was 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. And this was to play at the World Championship in Greece.”
Together with French teammates Meredis Houmounou, Karim Souchu and Kevin Corre, he went to Athens. It was a historic event; the first time ever that an official World Champion was to be crowned for 3-on-3 basketball. The team members, however, had a clear goal in their minds: “We set the goal to get a medal. We made the job on the court.”
JBAM’s presence in the paint was huge for France as it went undefeated in the group stage, then knocked out the Czech Republic and Greece in the quarterfinals. France defeated Israel in the semifinals, before losing to Serbia in the finals. JBAM and his teammates came back with silver medals around their necks.
“It is not a big adjustment, it is still basketball, but the biggest difference is everything is quick, and you have to change quickly from offense to defense“, says JBAM. “It is different that the shot-clock is only 12 seconds, so you don’t have much time to set up. And you need a one guy who can shoot good. It is a good preparation for the 5-on-5 season.”
France did not field a men's team at the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Moscow, but JBAM would not mind new challenges. “Back when the World Championship finished, I told the coach ‘the next time you go, I will follow you. I'm with you’. For me, it would be one more chance to play for the national team,” JBAM said. “And it would be good to play 3-on-3 basketball at the Olympic Games. That would be a new experience for anybody… Also, it is a good way for any player to maintain his physical preparation. It is not good to rest for two months between the seasons. For me, it is good conditioning for the following season, and it is also good for the club I'm playing.”
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