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Precious Achiuwa on Fred VanVleet's leadership, defensive pressure

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Toronto Raptors centre Precious Achiuwa discusses developing chemistry with Fred VanVleet, his leadership qualities and applying pressure on defence alongside other bench players in their minutes together.

Video Transcript

- Hi, Precious. Thanks so much for joining us. We have a few questions for you here. We'll start with Michael Grange.

- Hey, Precious.

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Hey, what's up?

- Yeah, I just wanted to touch base with you.

- [? Oh. ?] Listen properly.

- You're-- Sorry. Obviously, you've been starting to find a really nice rhythm here. And I'm just wondering about your connection with Fred on the floor and how he's kind of helped you along to familiarize yourself on the floor. And you connected with him for that alloy-oop for his triple double. And what impact has he had on you feeling comfortable out there?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Fred is playing amazing right now, just playing really good basketball. And not just myself, but he impacts the whole team in the sense that just off of the way he's playing a lot of teams. He draws so much attention. That helps the rest of us out there on the floor with him and get easy shots or, you know, get to our spots or whatever the case may be. And that's just based off of how he's playing, I was able to create a lot more offense for, not just myself, but a lot more guys out there.

- What does he do specifically as a guy who's got the ball in his hands the whole time, as kind of a leader on this team, or if not, the leader? What has he done to help you feel like you belong and appreciate your role a little more fully?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: I mean, like I said, he's quite amazing. He's playing amazing basketball right now. I mean, it's just the way basketball works, you know? He draws a lot of attention, double teams, whatever the case may be. And that opens up the game for a lot of people, including myself, is being able to get easy shots, get to my spots, or get just easy shots here and there. And that's just [INAUDIBLE] like the way he's playing. And, you know, his willingness to pass the [? bullet ?] as well.

- Thank you, Precious.

- And next we'll go to [? Erin ?] [? Rose. ?]

- Hey, Precious. I'm not sure how much of young Pascal you used to watch, but what does it mean for you to see a guy come as far as he has in terms of developing his playmaking skills? Is that something that inspires you and you want to do something similar to him?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Yeah. I mean, Pascal is playing amazing as well the past couple of games. [? I'm ?] not even on [? the ?] [? basketball ?] [? wave ?] before that. But yeah, absolutely. You know, that's somewhere-- that's a place where I see myself being that. And he's playing amazing, playmaking, doing it all, getting teammates involved, rebounding and scoring a variety of ways. And it's just amazing just to see how far he's come and what he's doing right now.

- Do you see that as the future of basketball where you have guys who are 6' 9", 6' 10" playing point guard for stretches?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's where basketball is going. But right now I think that's-- I think on our team we have guys that, I think, could potentially develop into that one day, kind of like very versatile guys, you know, big, strong. Guys that could do a lot of things.

- Thanks, Precious.

- And next we'll go to [? Doug ?] [? Smith. ?]

- Hey, Precious. Thanks for stopping by, really appreciate it. You guys are in the midst of playing a lot of very good big men, you know, Whiteside, Jonas, tomorrow night, Ayton, Poeltl the other night. But you held them, the first three, pretty much in check. How is it working defensively against big strong, big men who roll to the rim and score and are focal points on the team's offenses?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: I mean, we just throw a lot of bodies at them. They're big so that automatically just tells us that their foot speed is not up there with us. So we just kind of use our speed. Myself, Chris, Pascal, Scottie, we'll just use our quickness to beat them to the spots and make them pay for, you know, the things that they're not really great at. And that's how we're able to-- you know, it [? cramped. ?] We'll scramble a lot, throw a lot of bodies at them, and just get them out of their rhythm.

- What's the scrambling like? I know last night you double teamed Jonas with Chris a couple of times, with a small guy a couple of times. Is it interesting to mix it up? And how smart do you have to be to make that call on the fly in a game?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Of course. It's just reading and reacting. You know, can't keep throwing the same thing at them. We just, like, have a feel for who should go depending, you know, who you're guarding. And we all just scram after that. Chris, you know, went and doubled a couple of times, [? Freddie ?] did. You know, it's just different looks, so he just can't get accustomed to one and then just be able to pick it apart.

- Great. Thanks so much. Appreciate it as always.

- And next we'll go to [? Vivek ?] from raptors.com.

- Hey, Precious. Thanks for taking the time. I was just wondering, how much did you know about Pascal coming into this season, and what have you learned about him now as a teammate?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: I mean, I've known Pascal for a while now. And I mean, I've known [? him. ?] I mean, we're teammates. I get to spend a lot more time with him, around him. Just seeing the way he's developed over the years and the type of player he's become over the years and where his game is at now is amazing. It just shows, this is just a testament to how much work he's put in and how consistent he is with his work and his development.

- Is there something new that you've learned about him as a person, as a teammate this season that you didn't know before?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Um, I don't know. Something new about him? I don't know. I haven't really like-- I don't know.

- Like his work ethic, anything like that.

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Yeah. I mean, I've known he's always worked hard. I mean, like I said, I've known Pascal from before. And I know he's always, always worked hard. So that's like-- that's not new to me. I mean, I can't really think of anything off the top of my head right now.

- OK. Just as a team, do you feel like this team's swagger goes to a different level when Pascal is playing at the level he's at?

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think we're playing with a lot more confidence with the way the ball is moving around. The way him and Freddie are playing right now, Pascal and Freddie, has been at a really, really, really high level. And we need that for our team and for us and for them as well. And, you know, I think when we're playing, our confidence as a team is at a different level when they're playing at the level that they're playing at.

- Thanks a lot, Precious.

- Thanks, Precious. That's all the questions we have.

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