01 May, 2022
28 February, 2023
1 Nicola Franco (THA)
to read

Freddie Lish: Basketball is one of the only places where I can free my mind

ULAANBAATAR (Mongalia) - There are no signs of lack of confidence in Freddie Lish’s game.

"To put that jersey on with the flag makes you feel like you are part of something much bigger than yourself and that’s a great feeling."

When you see him streaking up the floor from end to end, pulling up on a dime for a three-pointer as the defenders are still dashing back to protect the paint, it all happens so quickly.

That is what makes it so difficult to defend the 1.73M (5'8") guard, allowing him to average 22.0 points per game on red-hot shooting of 55.6 field-goal shooting percentage and 46.7 three-point shooting percentage.

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For the (Thai)Land

Lish might eventually cool down at some point amidst the cold weather here in Mongolia, but there’s not much any opposing team can do to bring down his confidence.

"I always have confidence to do what I’m going to do but to have the coach and the team behind me makes it easier to play my game freely," said Lish. "I don’t have to force anything and can play within a system. I work hard on my craft and it shows so I just need to keep the intensity up."

Confident and free. That might be the best way to describe how Lish plays the game. Those that have been watching him play over the past decade all over Asia knows this to be true as well.

As Lish mentioned, playing with the trust of head coach Edu Torres and his teammates here has made it easier to play that way. Then there’s also the additional factor of playing for the Thai flag as well.

"It was a blessing to finally get called to play for the national team at the FIBA level," said Lish. "I’ve been waiting for quite a while for an opportunity and the organization finally allowed me to be a part of it so I’m just happy for the chance."

Lish might only be a rookie in FIBA competitions, but the 34-year-old has plenty of experience both playing for and in Thailand. He was a part of the national team at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and has been playing for professional clubs in (and against) Thailand for nearly a decade.

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But putting on that Thailand jersey in the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers just hits a bit different - even if ever so slightly.

"The difference playing on the national team is you have the whole country rooting for you to do well," said Lish.

"Plus I get a chance to play with some of the best players in Thailand. I’ve known most of these guys for a while now ,so to be teammates at this moment makes it even more special because we are playing for something bigger than ourselves."

A Way Out

When you see Lish out there on the court, you really feel like that is where he belongs. When he’s not exploding in a passionate roar after a made basket, he’s usually sporting his trademark carefree smile.

No matter how tense the situation can be during a game, you most likely won’t catch Lish stressing out if he’s in the game. When "Ball is Life", that is usually how you carry yourself on the court.

"I’ve been playing basketball since I could remember. It’s one of the only places where I can free my mind," he said, also noting in previous interviews that his "mom put the ball in the crib, that whole story".

"I’ve been lucky enough to let this game take me around the world and plan to keep working hard until my time is up."

And he’s really been around the world. A native of Hawaii, Lish ventured around the USA from Milwaukee to Oregon to Alabama. It was in his senior year at the University of South Alabama that he would take up on that adventure.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve known that basketball would be my way out," said Lish. "Once you dedicate yourself to something, you really want the only thing standing in your way is yourself. The dream became more of a reality my senior year in college where I had to make a decision to either go pro or finish school."

Of course, Lish decided to "go pro" and pursue playing basketball at a higher level.

F.O.E = Family Of Encouragement

Again, this FIBA "rookie" is already 34 years old, so his journey through basketball has been lengthy, filled with acchievements - but not without obstacles.

Through those milestones, it has been his family - whichever generation that may be - that has been that extra boost each step of the way.

"I’ve always had a strong support system with my mother telling me to just believe in myself and anything is possible."

"I’ve wanted to give up many times during my professional career but basketball is what I really love to do so I will keep trying to play until I can’t anymore. I have two daughters and I don’t want them to feel like their father is a quitter so that’s extra motivation for them to be whatever they want in life."

That’s why playing for Thailand in the First Round of the Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers means a lot to Lish and why he ranks it highly in among the accomplishments in his storied career.

"I’ve won scoring titles, championships, M.V.P.s, but the best thing about the basketball life is the competition, meeting new people, and being able to travel the world and provide for my family," said Lish, in reference to playing for the national team. "This has always been a dream of mine since I found out my mother was born in Thailand."

"To put that jersey on with the flag makes you feel like you are part of something much bigger than yourself and that’s a great feeling."