Q&A: Tyler Lamb x @FIBAAsiaCup Instagram
BANGKOK (Thailand) - Tyler Lamb, star of the Thailand national team, sat down and talked with FIBA Asia Cup in a live interview on the @FIBAAsiaCup Instagram account. Multiple topics were covered from the origins of his nickname to his confidence in Thailand qualifying for Asia Cup 2021.
How are you doing?
I’m at home doing good, just enjoying being inside with my kids and my family. I haven’t really been able to do much since in America everything is shut down right now, especially in California, so I’ve really just been staying inside.
I’m just trying to stay safe and hoping everyone else stays safe, especially those of you in Thailand and everywhere else.
How are you staying fit and in shape?
(Laughs) All the gyms are closed, so my fitness is just chasing my daughters around the house! Hopefully, something opens up soon. I’m usually never been home this early, often I get home around May or June, so I’m really enjoying my time right now with the family.
You said you might be getting a haircut to get ready for this interview. How did that turn out?
(Laughs) Nah, that’s why you see me with the hood on! The hoodie’s staying up right now.
You’ve been through some hairstyles from the cornrows in Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2017 to the long hair in [SEABA Pre-Qualifiers] 2018. Which one did you prefer the most?
My whole life, I mostly had short hair, but I had this thing with my long hair. I don’t know. I’m not the my-hair-is-my-strength type, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to grow it back out, you know?
You have two daughters. Which [hairstyle] do they prefer?
I think my daughters just like the short hair. She actually told me the oldest one.
We know you have “Lambo” locked down as one of your monikers. What’s the origin story of that name?
During my freshman year at UCLA, my teammate, Malcolm Lee, he was the first person to give me that nickname. I don’t even know where it came from. I think I might have been in the locker room one day, and he just called me out like “Lambo!” and ever since it stuck. Like my coach just started calling me Lambo, and it just stuck.
It fits though! Like a Lamborghini going smooth and fast.
(Laughs) I hope so! Some of the Thai guys call me Tiger, though, but I think Lambo is probably the main one that stuck.
Your first time playing in Asia was with UCLA back in 2012, and your family had traveled to watch you. How did that feel, just playing in Asia and having your family come to watch?
Honestly, looking back, it means way more than it did when I was going through it. Because when you are going through it as a kid, you just like “Aight, we got games in China.” But when you get older, and you look at things like that, I think you can really appreciate it. That’s just one thing I really appreciate, being able to play basketball there but also being able to go to the Great Wall and meeting people.
I met this guy - his name was actually Tiger - he kind of toured us around. He lived in Shanghai, and he sent his son to UCLA basketball camp every summer. Just meeting people like that and doing things like that is what I’m most appreciative of.
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How did it feel playing for the Thailand national team for the first time back in SEA Games 2017?
It was a relief because I remember leading up to playing for the national team. There were all types of things going on. I just remember some of the [people in the Thailand basketball federation] working really hard to try to get me eligible to play.
That was the SEA Games we won Bronze. We came up short, and we had a chance to win, but the experience overall was great.
Just putting on that Thai national team jersey, I never would’ve thought.
How has that feeling changed over the years up until recently being able to go up against Korea recently at the Asia Cup Qualifiers?
When I put the Thailand national team jersey on, it feels different than putting on a club jersey because you’re playing for the country, and you know everybody’s watching and everybody’s cheering for you.
From my first SEA games and the last SEA Games, it was more like a transition for me. Like I got to experience it and now what’s next is now we have to win some more. I have to take the next steps forward. I always appreciate being on the national team, but my goal now is to make steps forward for Thailand.
Just going to fire a quick question here and clear the air: Are you related to Jeremy Lamb?
(Laughs) Not that I know of, honestly! I have never played against him. Everybody asks me about that, and I think we even look alike, weirdly, and Lamb is not a common last name, but no.
(Thinks) Maybe. You never know, we might have a third or fourth cousin. You never know!
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Playing with the national team, you’ve been the star of Thailand. You’ve gone up against the Philippines, Indonesia and fans sometimes react about your “confidence,” and as some might say, it’s “cockiness.” What can you say about that mindset you have?
I’m completely okay with [that], but they have to understand that I’m coming at it from a competitor’s standpoint. I actually have to play in the game, and I have a goal that I’m trying to attain with my team, so I would never, being a competitor, think of myself and my team going into a game as a disadvantage.
It’s more of an attitude that they have to lace their sneakers just like we do, and they have to play on the same court for 40 minutes so anything can happen within that time.
For me, to not believe in my teammates, I think I will say more about my leadership than me saying that I believe we can play with any team out there. In the future, I think we have a chance of being one of the best countries in Asia, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Going back to some of your opponents, what have been your thoughts about playing against Indonesia?
I think it kind of naturally just grew into a rivalry. It’s not hatred, but like it’s a rivalry that you enjoy. I look forward to playing against Indonesia every time because I know it’s not going to be an easy game. I know they are going to bring it, and both countries have had so many games and so many battles that I’m just enjoying being a part of it and being able to help affect the outcome.
Another team that you’ve played a lot against is the Philippines.
Playing against the Philippines, I will put that in the same category as playing against Indonesia. I’ve been playing against and in the Philippines ever since I started my professional career in Asia, so I have a lot of respect for the Filipinos on how they play basketball and the love they have for the sport. I have much respect for that.
I enjoy playing against the Philippines at any time. Right now, they are the powerhouse in Southeast Asia. Being able to go up against that giant, it’s not a position that I’ve been in many times in my basketball career. Usually, I’m on the giant’s side, but it’s a position that I enjoy, and I can appreciate it.
I’m just enjoying the process and enjoying being able to compete against those guys and building camaraderie.
Indonesia, Philippines, those two teams are in the same group as Thailand playing in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. How confident are you that Thailand are going to be able to get to the Asia Cup in 2021?
I’m confident in the fact that if we play the way I know we can play, I know that we have a good chance of being there. I have nothing but confidence in my teammates and in coach Daleo, who has been doing a great job with the National Team. We have pieces on our team in Thailand, and I think that if the guys keep working, eventually, we’re going to have to be seen.
People have come up about the Korea game. I don’t think anyone expected us to lose by only  points, but looking back in the game, it shouldn’t have even been 7 points. It could’ve been closer with just a few different plays. Things like that, it just shows you that it’s a test. We get to test ourselves against the giants, so we didn’t really have anything to lose, and I think we’re showing people that we can play with the top teams.
You’ve played against Christian Standhardinger in college, played with him professionally in the ABL, and against him in the national team again. Hence, you have quite a history with each other. What can you say about Christian? How is he as a teammate? How is he as an opponent?
Chris is a great guy. He’s a hard worker; he’s a competitor. He just brings it every game, and that’s something I really respect and admire about him is that he’s never scared and that he’s a fearless competitor. When we played on the same team in Hong Kong, he was my roommate on road trips, and we were able to build a relationship. We check up on each other every so often, and when I see him, its always love.
Who are some players you’ve really enjoyed playing against in Asia with the national team?
It was fun playing against Stanley [Pringle] and those guys in the SEA Games 2019 because last SEA Games 2017, [the Philippines] didn’t have them. They didn’t bring that top team. For them to bring that team for SEA Games , it was fun to play against them in the championship game in a packed arena.
To close this out, just say a little bit to the fans of Asia basketball, like how to get through these times or just a bit of a shout-out.
All the fans in Asia, I know it’s tough times right now. I know no sports are going on. But stay safe out there and thank you for all the support. When this thing clears up, I hope to see all you guys during SEA Games and the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
To all the Thai fans, Sawasdee Kub [Hello in Thai]. I hope all you guys stay safe and thank you for all the support and love. I’m praying for everyone’s safety and well-being.