Rolands Freimanis:
Kalev Can Contend For The Playoffs!

After beating VEF in the Baltic derby and adding new talent, Kalev is on the rise. One of Kalev's biggest contributors, Rolands Freimanis, spoke with VTB-League.com about his team's playoff chances, compared newcomer Shawn King to Frank Elegar, named his three most exciting players in the league and also previewed the upcoming game vs. CSKA in Tallinn.

- The day after beating VEF, the whole team went to see a movie together. Do you hang out together a lot on the weekends?
- Unfortunately, not as much as we would like. I think these types of events are really important and help build team chemistry. We had a great time watching the new Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins movie, Misconduct. There are some new guys at Kalev and we want them to click with the team as soon as possible. These types of outings help.

- Especially when everyone's in a good mood after winning the Baltic derby! What does playing against VEF mean to Kalev?
- Every derby is big, no question. Especially since we were playing on their court in Riga. This win was also important for Kalev because we finally snapped our losing streak in the VTB United League. We got off to a good start this time (Kalev led 16-3 in the 1st quarter) and maintained control of the momentum.

- As a native of Latvia, did you have extra motivation in Riga?
- Of course, it's special to play in front of your countrymen. I wanted to be at my best on the court. At the same time, I ended up disappointing the Latvian fans. But what can you do? That's my job as a player.

- The game against VEF showed that your new players are adjusting quickly. Doesn't Shawn King remind you of former Kalev center Frank Elegar? Also, how well do you think Morris Curry fits with the team?
- The new guys have been a huge help. The changes in our game since King arrived have been very significant. We really needed a big man like him. He can go to work in the paint, rebounds and helps out on offense. You made a good comparison to Elegar. Some of my friends in Riga asked me the same thing after the game. They are definitely very similar.

As for Curry, he can score, plus he doesn't forget about his teammates. He's always looking to pass. Morris is an experienced player and has a great feel for the game.

We don't have breakdowns during games like we used to. The team is more consident. But we can still get better.

- Is Kalev still aiming for the playoffs or simply focusing on the upcoming games?
- There are still a lot of games to play in the regular season. We'll fight to the end. Yes, we don't have a great chance, but Kalev is capable of contending for the playoffs! The team is focused and prepares for each game separately. If we keep playing like we did on Friday, anything is possible.

- How much interest will there be in Tallinn for CSKA's arrival? What does playing against an opponent like that mean to the players?
- I love playing against such strong teams. CSKA's defense is incredible. The Army Men also have players who are almost impossible to stop once they get hot. As for us, we'll battle and give everything we have. We understand our weaknesses and we're working on them. At the same time, we'll try to get a feel for our opponent's weak spots.

I expect to see a lot of fans at the Saku Suurhall! I'd encourage every basketball fan in Estonia to come to this game and see a team like CSKA with their own eyes.

- Could you name the three most exciting players in the VTB United League this season?
- Just three? (Laughs). There are a lot of good players in the league. I wouldn't have any trouble naming 20. But, okay, I would say Tyrese Rice from Khimki, Nando De Colo from CSKA and Lokomotiv's big man, Anthony Randolph. It's really hard to choose. And Keith Langford from UNICS has to be on that list!

- The Latvian national team was a huge surprise at the recent European championships. What's the team's potential? Can it qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro?
- First of all, we need to know what our roster is going to be like for the qualifying games. We have a good, talented team and we want to prove that we can play with anyone. Our goal is to reach Rio. All of our opponent are very strong. On paper, Serbia is the toughest opponent, especially since they will be playing at home, although it's not for sure yet whether that will help them. Remember what happened to the Latvian national team when it hosted EuroBasket in 2011.

- Will Kristaps Porzingis join the national team? He's having a terrific debut season in the NBA for the New York Knicks.
- Porzingis is an amazing player, no question, and would be a boost to the national team. We'll live and see. Everyone in Latvia wants him on the national team!