Michael Fakuade is a 28 year old 201cm forward from Chicago, Illinois that also has the Nigerian citizenship and is playing his sixth professional season and fourth in Spain and first with RETAbet Gipuzkoa BC San Sebastian (Spain-Liga Endesa). As a rookie he played for UBC Hannover playing 15 games averaging 15.2ppg, Reb-5(10.6rpg), 1.1apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-1(2.8bpg), FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 67.6%. In his second season he played for the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA) playing 33 games averaging 8.3ppg, Reb-5(7.3rpg), Blocks-1(1.8bpg), FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 56.5%. In the 2014-2015 season he made the jump to Forca Lleida CE (Spain-LEB Gold)playing 32 games averaging 7.2ppg, 5.2rpg, Blocks-5(1.0bpg), FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 66.0%. In the 2015-2016 season he stayed in Spain playing with Quesos Cerrato de Palencia (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 30 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.2rpg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 22.9%, FT: 60.0%. Last season he played with Cafes Candelas Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-4(6.9rpg), 1.5apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.8%He started his basketball career in 2007 for N.Illinois (NCAA) where he played until 2010 playing 54 NCAA games. He then changed to play for Ill.-Springfield (NCAA2). He played a total of 45 NCAA 2 games and as a senior played 24 games: 14.5ppg, RebNCAA2-6(11.0rpg), BlocksNCAA2-2(3.5bpg), FGP: 55.9%, 3PT: 3-6, FT: 56.7%. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.
Michael thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
My summer was good. I was rehabbing and working out. Trying to come back stronger from a minor injury I had.
Was there anything special that you did in Chicago this summer that you hadn´t done before in the last years that was especially memorable?
Yes, rehabbing my knee was very challenging to me. This was that first time in my career that I had a major injury. It was very challenging mentally.
Congrats on signing with RETAbet Gipuzkoa BC San Sebastian (Spain-Liga Endesa). You have paid your dues in your first five seasons as a professional with two in Germany and three in Spain in the Leb Gold. Did somebody have to pinch you? Your playing in the best league in Europe.
I’ am Very grateful and blessed to get a chance to play in one of the best leagues in the world. My goal was always to be able to play at the highest level possible if I could not play in the NBA.
You stated in our last interview two seasons ago that “Yes, I believe if I continue my growth as player that I can can not only play in the BBL but any league in Europe”. How vital was your continued belief in your abilities and healthy self confidence as a player that led you to reaching the best league in Europe in Spain?
It was very vital. Confidence is everything. When you truly believe in yourself, you are capable in achieving all your goals.
Before we talk about your current situation let us look back to the last two years. We last spoke in August 2015 as you were commencing on your second season in Spain with Quesos Cerrato de Palencia (Spain-LEB Gold). You won your first title as a professional being Spanish LEB Gold Champion. What do you believe made this team and season so special?
I think we had really good team chemistry. Everybody understood their roles on the team. We all bought in to what the coach was saying and played well together.
With Quesos Cerrato de Palencia (Spain-LEB Gold) you played 30 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.2rpg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 22.9%, FT: 60.0%. It was your best shooting season as a professional. Do you feel this season´s exceptional shooting had more to do with your teammates finding you in the best spots or you simply putting in more work in the lab throughout the season?
I think is was a little bit of both. I just tried to stay aggressive on the court and learned when to pick my spot on the offensive end.
Last season you played with Cafes Candelas Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-4(6.9rpg), 1.5apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.8%. You had another successful season making the playoffs and finishing the regular season in second place. After two winning seasons do you feel like your recent winning genes will transfer over to new team RETAbet Gipuzkoa BC San Sebastian (Spain-Liga Endesa) who won´t have it easy coming up from the Leb Gold?
I think it can. We just have to go out and play hard and together. At the end of the day we will give it our all every time we get out on the court. Nothing will be handed to us, but we need to trust the work that we put in.
You stated two years ago in our last interview that after one season in Spain your IQ of the game has developed the most. I really learned how to think the game and know when to be aggressive on offense and defense. How do you feel has your game developed further in the last two seasons?
I think my game has developed well. I have become more of an all around player. I see the game a lot differently and try to contribute in any way possible.
Now heading into this season with RETAbet Gipuzkoa BC San Sebastian (Spain-Liga Endesa) you stated two seasons ago tat „I think my defense and my energy is one ability that I can really use to be successful in Leb gold, As well as any other league I plan to play in”. What else will you need to do to be successful in the best league in Europe?
I think I need to continue to work on my shot. I need to make sure I am reliable shooter when I am open.
Your new team has a lot of size as well as seven players from different nationalities. In the past you played with two other imports, but now it will be crowded. How confident are you that you will be an impact player and not get lost in the mix?
I think I will be able to add something different to the team. We all have different characteristics that can help the team win.
This season you will be playing against the best talent in the world each weekend as well as against top teams with Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and battle against ex NBA players like Anthony Randolph, Jeffery Taylor, and Kevin Seraphin just to name a few. When you look back at the last five years have you been having a Cinderella career that now is rewarding you with all the countless hours of work you have put in to get this far?
I guess you can say that. It has been a long journey, but the work that I put in has paid off.
Do you still have contact to ex coach Igor Krizanovic? Do you feel like he is a guy that now might be boasting “I always knew Michael Fakuade had the game to reach the best league in Spain” or did he already have that confidence in you in the 2013-2014 season when you were his player?
The funny thing is I think Igor always had confidence in me. The reason I say that is because he used to yell at me all the time. I believe when a coach is on you that much he sees something in you. Well at least I hope that was the reason.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Jordan, Bird, Magic and Lebron
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
I think he is still one of the greatest of all time. His career is not over yet. So he just needs to continue to play at a high level.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
It’s tough to say, because he is trying his best to win. He just needs to find a balance of doing the just enough to put his team in the best position to win.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
The NBA draft was very underrated in my opinion. It was a lot good players in the entire draft. I believe Malik Monk will be one of those guys people wish they would have took earlier.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
The Rockets has always been a very good team. The Chris Paul trade makes them even better. I just don’t think it’s a enough to compete with the Warriors.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
It was a good trade for both players. I think not players will benefit from a different environment. At the end of the day Lebron is still the main factor. Anybody that plays with him will have a chance to be better off in the long run.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Michael for the chat.