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Walkup: «We want to bring Olympiacos back to where it belongs»

Eager to get to work and determined to bring back Olympiacos to where the team belongs, Thomas Walkup talked to in his first interview as a member of the ‘reds’ family!

“I’m excited, I could even say happy. And that’s because I now will be playing for one of the most historic clubs in Europe. I know all about Olympiacos’ history and I’m well aware that during the past few years the team is not where it belongs. I will be doing everything I can to fulfill my dream and make it all the way to the Final Four. The team has players that are legends of European basketball, that they know all too well about titles and achievements. I’m elated to be part of this team”.

He has faced Olympiacos many times during these past three years wearing the Zalgiris jersey and explained that … “Each time we would be playing Olympiacos, we knew we were going to be playing huge games. Either we were playing in Kaunas or in Piraeus, the battles were always big and I would always be animated about these match ups. Now I will be wearing the red uniform and I’m really looking forward to getting down to business”.

Asked about what it is he knows about the team and about the club’s history in general, he cut right to the chase… “I know a great deal. I’m quite aware of what the rivalry between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos means. I have worked under Sarunas Jasikevicius, while also Zack LeDay and Augustine Rubit have told me a lot having played for Olympiacos against Panathinaikos. Indeed, this is something that excites me and I know that these games are unique. I also know how demanding our team’s fans are and I want, if circumstance allows it, pandemic and all, to experience the great atmosphere they create”.

As for what convinced him to commit to Olympiacos despite the interest many Euroleague teams had shown in acquiring him, Walkup said: “Definitely the fact that I would be playing alongside legends that know the Euroleague, has been an important factor that weighed in my decision. If the course of the pandemic allows it, I will have the chance to experience the great atmosphere our fans create, so everything pointed to saying yes to Olympiacos”.

As for Olympiacos’ decision to walk away from the Greek League, the American guard seemed to be very well aware of the circumstances. “I’m really familiar with what has exactly transpired in recent years. Zack LeDay had been a part of that team and explained exactly what went on. I never thought about it. Both Zack and Augustine had only good things to tell me about Olympiacos. They has only good things to say about the people of the team, the club, as well as the city in general. Therefore, we as players, need to be ready, either for one, or two, or any number of games that are going to be asked from us each week. Olympiacos is a great team and it never crossed my mind to reconsider due to that fact”.

His communication with Giorgos Bartzokas has been excellent from the start. “Coach Bartzokas is a great coach. He has won the Euroleague, he has led Lokomitiv Kuban to the Final Four and this says a great deal about his level. Just like coaches gather information on the players, us players make inquiries about the coaches. So, apart from a great resume, I have heard only good things about the coach, both in his professional capacity and as a person, which I also found to be true during our conversation. I really liked what I heard! I want to vindicate him for his choice and hope that together we can do something good for Olympiacos”.

When asked to introduce himself to the Piraeus’ fans, he said: “I do everything the coach asks from me while on the floor. I ran the fast break, I play tough defense on and away from the ball, I try to help as much as I can in the offense and I’m a player that gives 100% in every practice and every game. I play hard on both ends of the floor”.
Off the court, the Texas born 29 year old guard, prefers to remain under the radar. “I’m a quiet person. I like quiet places and chill situations when I’m off court. I relax going out for coffee and watching lots of movies”.

Finally, we asked him to remember this season’s game between the two teams in Kaunas, when he became the protagonist of the last play with Kostas Sloukas, alongside whom he will be fighting this season to achieve the same goals. “It was a crazy game. Olympiacos was controlling the game from the start, but we did not give up. And it happened that we became the protagonists of the last play. Now, I will on the same side with Sloukas and I will be doing everything I can to make it and lead Olympiacos to its rightful place. When we are going to be on the floor, I’m going to be the play-maker and he’s going to be by my side, I will be guarding the opposing play-maker, while he’s going to be leading our offense. I really can’t wait to get on the court with him”.