Sasha Vezenkov sets the bar high for himself and the Sacramento Kings

2023-07-12T22:26:10+00:00 2023-07-13T12:48:31+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

12/Jul/23 22:26

Sasha Vezenkov talked to Eurohoops about the Sacramento Kings and Olympiacos.

By Eurohoops team/

Sacramento Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov realizes that his new team wants to take it to the next level after finishing third in the Western Conference last season and making the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.

“I knew coach Brown from when he came to Greece,” Vezenkov told Eurohoops. “For sure, they show me that they are glad [with me] and that they believe in me. The front office, the coaches, everyone. That doesn’t say anything on its own. I can’t wait to start working [with the team]. Right now I’m working out individually in Bulgaria. I’m going to a team that had a winning season year. The bar is set really high. The team was suffering in the previous years, they couldn’t get into the playoffs. So for sure, the bar is high. I know that nothing will come immediately. Every new place has its peculiarities until you adapt. But I’ve experienced similar circumstances throughout my career. I’m having a positive mindset and I’ll keep working and doing my thing. With a little luck, I hope that everything goes well.”

In a lengthy interview with Eurohoops, Vezenkov, the 2023 EuroLeague MVP, also talked about his new beginnings in the NBA with the Kings, the departure from Olympiacos Piraeus and more.

Here’s what the Bulgarian forward said: 

On leaving Olympiacos

I received only respect and love. I talked with most of the people in the club and they respect my decision. Everyone wanted me to stay with Olympiacos. But everyone knew that it [signing with the Kings] was the best for my future, to pursue my dreams. I had made it clear that no matter what happens, I want to hear the offer the Kings will make. It was a difficult decision but ultimately, it was the right decision. What I’ll miss is the everyday life with Olympiacos. Especially in the last two years. The environment in Sacramento is similar to the one of Olympiacos. On every level. They seem to have a family atmosphere and I like that.

On joining the Kings: 

It’s a dream and a potential. Because I’m not doing this just for living the NBA dream. In any dream, I see potential. A potential that can teach me something and evolve me. I’m not going to the USA to come back soon. I want to be tested in the NBA. 

I’m thinking about everything positively. I’ll start at zero. Now, the work I’ll do will be even bigger. I know what I’ve been through and how much I’ve worked. You can’t buy experience. I think the circumstances are the best. When I was 19 I wasn’t even ready for the Greek League. When I left Barcelona, I didn’t even have confidence. I was just different. 

They don’t care about age and how young you are [in the NBA]. Obviously, when you are experienced they see that and see what kind of level you have in your game. I think experience is something important and that EuroLeague brings me something extra. Luck also plays a part. You can be great on a team and not be able to play on another team.

My first goal is to become better and better and have continuity. This is what I learned at Olympiacos, as long as the team wins, everyone is important and everyone contributes to that. I have weaknesses that I need to improve. I go to the NBA with confidence. I may be a rookie but I have experience and through my hard work, my confidence increases. I’ll do what I’ve always done. The pressure may not be the same as the one at Olympiacos. I put pressure on myself to get better. 

On what will be his position on the Kings system:

We haven’t talked about that yet. You go in and you play, no matter your position. They play pretty basketball, fast basketball. They are a team that I think suits me and helps my own strong characteristics. We’ll focus on what I can do well. It’s different to go on a team that finished a season in third place in its Conference. I’m competitive and I want to win. The adjustment will be a bit tough for sure, time will be needed. Here you have to do the basics right while focusing on your strong points to have luck for something bigger.”

On his former teammate Kostas Sloukas‘ decision to jump from Olympiacos to archrival Panathinaikos:

“I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting this. Kostas is my friend and he’ll continue to be one. Memories can’t be erased. Every man takes decisions according to what he wants for himself and his life. My position is delicate. I can’t say anything but one thing: Let’s avoid extremities. That’s bad. Everyone enjoys what they want and, in the end, is judged by it. Everyone walks their own path”