Issuf Sanon on his EuroBasket experience: 'I'm young but I don't feel pressure'

Orazio Cauchi
Staff Writer
2022-09-06 19:15

The Ukrainian guard has been one of the most positive surprises of group C so far. Answering to BasketNews, the player explained why he was ready for this tournament even if it was the first time for him

Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Ukraine lost their first game of EuroBasket against Greece. It wasn't much of a surprise, of course, since the opponent was Greece, the strongest team in the group and one of the most likely candidates to win a medal at the end of the tournament. 

Despite the loss, though, Ukraine proved once again that they're a quality team. They played a great first half, creating more than an issue for Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates. A tough and extremely energetic team that has no fear to play as an underdog and it's surprising a lot of people. 

One of the most positive notes for Ukraine so far has been the performance of young guard Issuf Sanon. Originally drafted by the Washington Wizards in the 2018 NBA Draft, his NBA rights now belong to the Houston Rockets. 

Sanon is averaging 12.3 points and 2 assists per game at EuroBasket so far and in the game against Greece, he was the top scorer of his team with 16 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal. 

This is the first major tournament with the Ukrainian national team for Sanon but so far the player has shown almost no fear, going against some of the most experienced players in the continent and becoming a key piece for coach Ainars Bagatskis. 

When asked by BasketNews how important for his growth is to play in such tournaments, where the environment can be hostile at times, Sanon confirmed his fearless reputation. 

"This is my first tournament at this level but to be honest I don't feel pressure", Sanon told BasketNews. "Because I've already been preparing myself, especially mentally for these kinds of events. I just want to show what I can do against good teams, so I just need to calm down and play my game, everything else will come to me". 

Right after that answer, Sanon had a funny back and forth with his coach Ainars Bagatskis. The Ukrainian national team head coach said to Sanon 'and you didn't play too much?", Sanon answered 'Nah, this is the first game that I played 28 minutes", then Bagatskis went again 'great players don't need to look at the statistics (smiling, ed)', and Sanon finally answered 'listen, listen, the first thing I want to win, because we are a team and the most important thing is to win but I also want to have good statistics (laughing, ed)'. 

Ukraine will play their final game of group C on Thursday against Croatia but coach Bagatskis' side has already secured a spot in the next phase of EuroBasket and the game will count mostly for the positioning and the pairing in the round of 16. 


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