Raptors center Christian Koloko discusses his thought process before hitting a big three vs. the Suns, what was said in Nick Nurse's pregame film session and what the coaching staff wants from him on defence.
- So is that why you practice the corner 3s at the end of every practice?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I mean, yeah. That's why you got to practice. Practice makes perfect. So yeah.
- Do you, in all seriousness, like given that's not your role [INAUDIBLE], do you hesitate? Given the moment, do you hesitate to take it or if it's there that open, you sort of have to take it?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, sometimes it's there. But like, if I'm in the open, I'm going to take it. It's not like, our coach, he's seen me walk on those corner threes every day after practice.
So I think if I shoot it, he's not going to get mad at me. Because he know I work on it, and I'm capable of making it sometimes. So every time I'm going to shoot it, I'm going to shoot it to make it.
But you know, yeah, at that moment of the game, in my head I was like, should I shoot it or should I go shoot the next action? But then I look at the clock, and I was like, yeah, you got to shoot it then. I just shot it with confidence.
- Coach Nurse, he was very direct with you guys before the game with a 20-minute speech conversation or whatever. What did you-- what was the message you took out from what he delivered?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: The message was, well, we just got to play harder. We just got to play harder. We watched a lot of clips from last game. And we didn't play with any effort. We didn't play with any effort.
And today we started the game, we know we were really playing good defense. We were really aggressive. And everybody was just doing the job. And I feel like every time we play like that, we got a good chance to win the games.
- You guys as a team have had some trouble with opposing Biggs recently. How big of an emphasis was Ayton tonight, and how do you feel you guys did at neutralizing him?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I mean, it's always a big emphasis every game we play against somebody like that. I think we did a really good job today just getting off the offensive rebound.
And we did a pretty good job boxing out. And that's something the coach really emphasized, we got to box out. We got to box out. And even if we have to go to 2 on 1 some time, we got to box out and go for the rebound. So I think we did a really good job on the outside today and tonight too.
- The way the league is trending over the years, Biggs stepping out, shooting 3s. Is that-- I mean, obviously it's not going to happen overnight. But is that something that you see down the road as being a bigger part of your game?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I know I have a pretty good touch. And I know I'm going to continue to work on it. So whatever happened happen, but I'm going to continue to work on my 3.
And you know, right now, that's not what this team need from me so I'm not going to be out there shooting 3s every game. But if I have some 1 and 3 like this one, where I'm open, I'm going to take it. And I know the coach is not going to get mad at me because like I said, they see me work on those 3s. Yeah.
- Did you have eye contact with Gary like you were on baseline, slid out when he started driving? So did you exchange a look and were you expecting to pass?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah. He saw me when I relocating. He saw me. He ain't got no choice, to be honest, because he had two men in front of him. So he had no choice.
But yeah, I mean, I knew he wasn't going to pass it to me as soon as I saw my man stand in a corner. And like I told him after the time, I told him I appreciate you for believing me, for trusting me on that last pass because it's the end of the game. I'm not in that position every day, and he passed me the ball. So I was really happy.
- What was it like to see your teammates reaction to you making it? Like you saw, Jeff had the towel, you cleared the whole bench.
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, it was nice. It was really nice. Like I said, they saw me work on it every day. And then they'd be telling me something like, you got to show it with confidence.
And I feel like that's why it happened, in all the games, I wasn't shooting with confidence. I was kind of hesitating. And tonight as soon as I caught the ball, I just shot it, and I was kind of confident. And yeah, they were really happy for me. And yeah, that's a good sign for the team.
- You have a couple of finishes in the first quarter, till your [? OG ?] found you on a dump-off and then on the pick and roll. Are you starting to feel a little more comfortable in those situations too, just catching in on your feet, gathered at the right?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I mean, yeah, definitely. Yeah, for sure. That's something I work on a lot before and after practice with Jimbo and [INAUDIBLE].
I feel like I've always been somebody who can finish at the rim. And I haven't really done that this year. This year has been pretty tough for me in that area.
But like I said, I continue to work on it. And I feel like I'm improving every game. But I feel like I still have a long way to go in that aspect. But like I said, I'm going to continue to try to work on that aspect of my game.
- The team is kind of slotted through a bunch of different starting lineups during the season. You've been in and out of it obviously. How do you find the challenge of until probably the day of the game, you don't really know what your role is going to look like on any given night?
I mean, that's our job. So you guys got to be ready for whatever the coach want you to do. And if Coach say I'm starting tonight, I'm going to go there. I'm going to give everything I have.
If he say I'm coming off the bench, I'm going to go there and go on a high. If he say, I mean, he's not going to tell me before the game, but if I don't play, I'm going to be out there supporting my teammates.
So you just got to have that mindset. You got to be ready. You got to be ready, and this team, we had a lot of injuries. So it was just that next-man mentality that we had. And we're going to continue to have that mentality. And I feel like we need every single one of those guys to keep to continue win.
- Obviously, Nick made an issue about the effort for the team as a whole. But when you look at the last few games with the bigs, Zubac getting 10 offensive rebounds and Adams getting eight, how much were you focused on making sure something like that doesn't happen again?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Oh, to be honest, every time I'm out there, I'm just trying to make my man know, don't get no offensive rebound. Sometimes it's not easy because those are really big guys, like you said, Zubac and Steven Adams.
But sometimes it just happened because sometimes I'm a shot blocker. So that I'm going to get to contest a shot. And after that, he's going to be open, or we got to do a bigger, better job as a team just to-- how do you say that? Somebody's got to come and get him as a team. So it's a team effort. Defensive rebounding is a team effort. And I think we did a really good job tonight.
- At this level, how are you finding that adjustment and understanding, like when to help and when to stay home?
CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Oh, I feel like I kind of understand. I kind of understand. But by the end of the day, my job is to protect the rim. My job is to protect the rim.
So most of the time, I'm going to go for those shots. Most of the time, I'm going to go for the shot. And the coaches want me to go for those shots. So I just got to be smart and know when to go and when not to go. Yeah.
- Thank you.