Yannick Anzuluni is a 27 year old 205cm forward from Ottawa, Canada that also has the Congo citizenship. He is playing his fifth professional season and second in Germany and first with Rostock Seawolves (Germany-ProB). He played at Houghton(NAIA) from 2006-2010. He played his first two seasons as a professional with Quebec Kebs (Canada-PBL). In the 2012-2013 season he played for the Solarto Eagles Magdeburg (Germany-Regionalliga)21 games: 17.5ppg, 11.0rpg, 4.2apg, 3.0spg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 50.2%, 3Pts: 27.4%, FT: 80.2%. Last season he played for Pyrinto Tampere (Finland-Korisliiga): 1 game: 15pts, 5reb, 1ast, 5steals; Baltic League: 20 games: 8.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 63.2%, played mostly at Pyrinto Tampere II (Finland-1st Division): 28 games: Score-1(24.4ppg), Reb-3(13.9rpg), Assists-5(3.4apg), Steals-1(2.6spg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 80.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball before game two of the Pro B playoffs against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors.
Yannick thanks for talking to German Hoops. A hard fought 97-91 overtime win against the Fraport Skyliners in game one last weekend. Rostock go into the series as the favorite. Why was game one such a tough battle for Rostock?
I don’t want to take anything away from Fraport because they played a great game, they fought hard and hit a lot of tough shots all game long but I just think that we didn’t match up their intensity, we didn’t treat the game enough like a playoff game but that was a good wake up call for us.
Rostock can move on to the next playoff round with a win in Frankfurt Saturday. What kind of game can we await this time? Frankfurt will be very motivated not to go home for the summer with a loss.
They are definitely going to come out hard and play with a lot of energy especially since their season will be on the line but this time we are coming out with a lot more focus and energy, so I expect high intensity game with a lot of baskets.
In the first game young German talent Niklas Kiel had 14 points and nine rebounds. He belongs to the top German talents from the year 1997. What was your impression of him on the floor?
I think that he’s a very very talented kid who plays well beyond his age and he has a bright future ahead of him playing professional basketball.
You are playing your first season with the Rostock Seawolves. You have played in the States, Canada, Germany and Finland before coming there this season. Have you ever seen a more enthusiastic basketball culture than in Rostock?
I’ve seen a lot of great fans in all the places I’ve played before but the big difference in Rostock is that over here they really represent the definition of being a fanatic when it comes to sports, they really give it their all to their home teams, they are by far the most devoted fans I have seen since I’ve been playing basketball.
Rostock ended the season in first place in the German Pro A North with a record of 16-8. On what aspects of the game does the club still need to improve on to reach their goal of being Pro B champion?
If we’re going to be champions we really need to improve on playing a full 40 minutes of focus and high energy basketball game. We tend to start games very slowly, feel our way through and turn the level up as the game goes on, so if we can play up to our level from start to finish we have a good chance of the taking the championship home.
It is no secret that the Rostock Seawolves want to win the Pro B title. How confident are you that your team can reach this goal?
I am extremely confident in our team chances to win the title. We have everything needed to reach that goal, we have a lot of talented players, with a lot of experience and we are deep at every position, now it’s just up to us to go out there and prove that we can do it.
You are playing your first season in the German Pro B and are the absolute top player in the league. What has been your secret for being such a dominant player this season?
It’s a mix of different things, it starts of course with God giving me some natural abilities, but I also worked very very hard in the summer to prepare myself for the season and I’ve kept working that way all throughout the season. I’m also an intensely competitive guy so every time I step on the basketball court I want to be the best player and I want to win at all cost so I play every game like it could be my last.
You are leading your team in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. One doesn’t see this kind of dominant play on a team every day. Have you always been a guy that has filled up the stat sheet your whole career?
Ever since I started playing basketball my biggest strength has always been my versatility, I always thought that the biggest strength someone can have on the court is being able to do everything very well, because on a day where my shot is not falling I know that I will be able to affect the game in many different ways and help my team win.
You really do everything on the court for your team. To what NBA player would you compare your game to?
I’m a big fan of the old school Point Forwards like Grant Hill and Penny Hardaway but if I had to pick recent players I would say Paul George and Nicolas Batum.
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right way on the court?
My hidden strength on the court is actually my strength, because I am very long and lanky people don’t really realize how physical I am. I play a lot stronger than people imagine.
In the last regular season game you had a triple double against Recklinghausen with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Was this your personal best all around game of the season for you?
The last game against Fraport comes as close second with only two assist away from being another triple double but just the fact that this game was actually a triple double makes it definitely my most well rounded game of the season.
Last season you played for Pyrinto Tampere (Finland-Korisliiga) and mostly for their farm team. For Pyrinto Tampere II (Finland-1st Division) you played 28 games: Score-1(24.4ppg), Reb-3(13.9rpg), Assists-5(3.4apg), Steals-1(2.6spg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 80.9%. What kind of experience was it playing in Finland after playing a season in the German Regionaliga. Was the Finish second division equivalent of the German Regionaliga?
Playing in Finland was great experience for me, I was able to lead a very young team to the playoffs which was very good learning experience. The level there was very similar to the one of German Regionaliga but just a bit higher. But the best part of my season over there was playing in the Baltic league and making it all the way to the final four in which we played against top level European teams.
Two years ago you played for Solarto Eagles Magdeburg (Germany-Regionalliga). There your teammate was Jeramie Woods who is playing for German Pro A team Cuxhaven this season. How focused are you to be playing at a higher level next season?
I am extremely focused, the only reason why I play basketball other than the love of the game is to play at the highest level against the best competition possible.
You played your first two seasons in the solid Canadian PBL league. After two seasons what were the main reasons for coming to Germany to play Regionaliga? Were their not any D-league offers or interest from higher level teams in Europe?
Yes they were different offers but things didn’t fall through at the time because I wasn’t really a known name at the time so teams didn’t want take a risk on me and then the Magdeburg opportunity came in and my agent and I just thought I will be a good first step for me to get my name out there and known little more.
You played two seasons with the Quebec Kebs (Canada-NBL) and one with former NBA player Dontell Jefferson. What memories do you have of him on and off the court?
On the court I just remember how easy the game came to him, he never seemed to be in a hurry when he played, he always played at his own pace and off the court he was a really quiet guy, he was laid back and didn’t say too much.
The Canadian PBL league is a league that seems to be overlooked, but there are some great players playing there. Is this a league that is on the rise?
It’s definitely a league on the rise, a lot of former top prospects and NBA players have played or are playing in the league at the moment, the level is very similar to the one of the NBA D-League but its still a very recent league so its going take some time before it gets the same recognition as those other leagues.
You played four years at Houghton(NAIA) which is the fourth college division. As a senior you had huge stats of 27.6ppg, 15.5rpg. Did your spectacular senior season give you the first sign that you could become a professional or did you always know you would become a professional?
Since I was a kid my dream was to become a professional basketball player, I didn’t really know how it was going to work out especially from where I was from but I always told myself that by keeping my faith in God and working harder than anyone else I would be able to do it and when I started to put up those big numbers in college that’s when I realized that my dream my come true.
How did Houghton head coach Drew Hannan prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
At the time he was an assistant and our head coach was Brad Zarges but they both prepared me very well for a professional career, coach Zarges really prepared me for the mental aspects while coach Hannan prepared me for the physical aspects of what it takes to be a professional basketball player, as well as our other assistant, Collin Wright who helped me develop my skills. They are a big part of why I’ve become the player I am today.
Who has been your toughest one on one player this season in the German Pro B?
Diante Watkins, he’s the quickest guard I played against this season.
What are your early NCAA Final 4 picks?
Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Virginia
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks Yannick for the chat.