Zaza Pachulia on the EuroBasket and Georgian Basketball
In his 14th season in the league, Georgian center Zaza Pachulia has a serious shot at winning the NBA ring this time, as he’s now part of one of the most talented teams in NBA history.
While enjoying his role in the Warriors, Pachulia took time out to check on his basketball academy in Tbilisi and to talk to us about the upcoming EuroBasket.
How is the season going on for you in this new team?
It’s a very special situation here: a great team, very good coaching staff, very nice organization. There is a lot of talent in this locker room. We have good chemistry; we’re all on the same page; we get along with each other; and all this helps us to perform on the court.
What makes this team so special?
There’s no secret formula. The talent in this team is, obviously, amazing. We use our talent and, with the guidance of our coaching staff, share the ball and help each other. It’s fun when you do the right things.
The EuroBasket is this summer. What are your expectations?
We enjoy playing for coach Zouros. He’s brought a lot of positive things. We climbed the rope and qualified for EuroBasket. It’s exciting for the country, for the team and for myself. We’re looking forward to competing at EuroBasket. It’s a special moment when you represent your country; it’s something to always take seriously. Hopefully, we’ll have everybody healthy, have a good training camp, and make another round. Let’s see what happens.
In your opinion, what are the top four teams entering the tournament?
Spain, Lithuania, France, Serbia…there are so many good teams. I’ve played against many European teams and anyone can be a surprise if they play hard. With the tight schedule, you need the contribution of everybody in your team. To have 5 games in 7 nights is worse than the NBA schedule. You have to prepare really well and try to win as much as possible.
You were planning to take Milwaukee Bucks’ old basketball court to Georgia for the kids to experience a real NBA court. Is it already there?
Yes, the floor is laid in my academy in Tbilisi. We have almost 600 kids. The academy is doing pretty well. The kids are excited, working hard, practicing, playing a lot of games, and getting better. There is progress. I see their enthusiasm. They want to get better, become good basketball players and represent the country. It’s exciting when someone -with your help- is trying to pursue a goal. The kids understand that the coaches are doing a good job, teaching them the right habits, the fundamentals, and that success doesn’t come in one day. It’s going to take hard work and a lot time on the court.
Yao Ming was recently elected president of the Chinese Basketball Association. Sabonis leads the Lithuanian and Garbajosa the Spanish. Would you be interested at some point in leading the Georgian Basketball Federation?
Right now I’m enjoying playing basketball. That is what I’m thinking about and that is where my mind is.
Saba Shalamberidze and Alfonso Aramendia (Washington)