One on One with Mo Kherrazi
Mo Kherrazi has just finished his season with ZZ Leiden in the DBL. They made it to the Finals, but they eventually lost to Donar Groningen. Kherrazi was voted into the 2018 All-Defensive team and is already looking forward to next season, and how he can go on another journey towards winning a championship.
Donar was the dominant team during the regular season. Did you still go into the Finals with a lot of confidence?
For sure! But we were aware that we would have to stunt. Generally, Donar has a larger bench and therefore it’s easier for them to rotate, and addition to that, most of Donar’s boys have more experience.
Though you lost the Finals, what is the most important thing you’ve taken from this season?
Team thinking is key. Everything revolves around the team and teamwork: no hero basketball, that’s not going to cut it. We started the season strong, and overall we’ve had a good season. My numbers have gone up in all aspects. Unfortunately, Donar as a team had developed more than we had.
How will you make sure you will be champion next year?
At the moment, I’m yearning for a prize, that’s what you do it for. I work hard, always. Hard work is rewarded eventually. The pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place as soon as the game starts. But, it’s also important that you’ve a click with your teammates outside of the practices and games. In difficult times, but also when things are going well, ‘keeping everybody accountable’.
What are your plans for the offseason?
The offseason is actually the period where it’s all about. I’ll be developing my strength and muscle mass during this period. Staying fit is also very important. Now, you have more time to work on yourself, both in strength, conditioning and speed. But, it’s also dealing with minor injuries and improving the aspects you’re less good at.
And after that?
As I already said, I really want to win a prize, but I’m not sure for what team yet, as my contract with Zorg en Zekerheid Basketball has ended. At this moment, I’m talking to different teams who would like to work with me. Personally, I haven’t decided yet, as long as I can do what I’m good at.
In the Summer, you also practice with young players. Why is that important to you?
It’s good to stay busy during the offseason. Besides that, I just enjoy it to be able to use my experience to teach something to the young boys.
What can you learn them?
Never give up and never feel too comfortable: challenge yourself. Put a lot of time into the things you’re good at, but also where you’re less good it. Furthermore, rest is key.
You’ve been playing in the DBL for a while now. What has changed in those years?
A lot has changed in recent years. The course of events in the DBL has become more professional. In addition to that, new teams are joining the DBL next season. The DBL has gotten a better status thanks to the results of the National team and what we’ve achieved. Donar also contributed to the fact that basketball is becoming more attractive in the Netherlands, they did a fantastic job in the European competition.
Can you describe your role in the team?
The last three years, I’ve been the captain of the team. My role is to show leadership, to help the coach to think strategically from game to game, but also to keep the energy level up during practices and games, even if things aren’t going the way we want. Positivity is key. I’m a solid defender, and I even got to receive a prize for that this year. Work hard, never give up: over my dead body mentality.
Your brothers have played basketball at a high level as well. Was there ever any real competition between you?
Yes, we all wanted to reach the highest possible level and there was always some competition, haha. One of us always wanted to be better than the other, but we also learned a lot from each other. I’m the youngest, so I’ve been able to learn something for everyone.
Is there something they can do what you would like to be able to do as well?
Yes, Khalid Kherrazi is one of the best shooters the Moroccan team has ever known. In addition, Hassan Kherrazi’s atletic ability and speed are something I’ve always looked up to. Mustafa Kherrazi was an all-round player, a complete player. Hicham Kherrazi is the same type of player as I am, only he shoot more, while I’m more of a driver.
You’ve been part of the Orange Lions in the past. How was it for you to play for your country?
It’s very disappointing that after all those years (since I was 17), I haven’t made Toon’s roster. To me, it’s strange to have an off season, I’m one of the best defenders the Netherlands has ever known and I dream about the World Cup and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, just as I dreamed about reaching the 2015 European Championship in Zagreb. I was a starter in 2015, and I worked really hard to achieve that. It was great to play for my country, and hopefully, as soon as possible, I can sign the national anthem, ‘het Wilhelmus’, with my teammates again.