Sarandis Mastrogiannopoulos is a 22 year old 194cm point guard from Greece that played the last 2 seasons with GS Lavrio Aegean Cargo (A1) and this season played 20 games averaging 4.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg. In the 2018-2019 season with GS Lavrio Aegean Cargo (A1) he played 23 games averaging 2.3ppg and also played 2 Fiba Europe Cup games. He began his career with AS Apollon Patras (A1) and played 45 Greek A-1 games. He chatted with germanhoops.com during the COVID-19 crisis.
Hi Sarandis where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
I am currently in my hometown in Patras. I am in good health first of all meanwhile there is a concern about the state of covid-19
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
At the end of January I heard about this virus for the first time. The truth is that, while I knew there had been pandemics in the past, I did not expect it to have such a dimension if one considers the progress of science today.
How did you experience the day to day life in Greece during the early Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
I follow the measures of the experts and the government and during the quarantine I am home. My only way out was for my daily exercise to maintain my physical condition. There is a big difference in our daily life in Greece, if we consider that we live in a country that favors the climate of having an intense social life
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing
Yes Definitely. I am much more careful with hygiene issues and I follow them meticulously
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
The truth is that the season ended abruptly and unexpectedly. I am very disappointed about this because I could not continue to do what I love. But health is above everything .
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators in Germany. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
I think fans are a strong part of the game and that’s why it’s not a nice picture of empty stadiums for sports in general.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
It has made me stronger, more conscientious and more in solidarity with my fellow human beings.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
It will definitely be difficult to adapt due to the great abstinence from active action. At the same time, however, we, the younger ones, are given the opportunity to improve on an individual level
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
The virus has influenced and will affect the world economy. Part of that is professional basketball. The next season is expected to be difficult both for the athletes and for everyone directly involved with basketball and sports generally
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
I have maintained very good communication with several of my former teammates and we talk almost every day through social media
You began your basketball career with AS Apollon Patras (A1). Talk a little about your early life. Which players inspired you and to what NBA player would you compare your game best to?
I made my first basketball steps in the team of my neighborhood, AO Skagiopouleiou. At the age of 15 I went to Apollon Patras the most historical club in my hometown. From a young age I was a fan of Diamantidis Spanoulis and Papaloukas. Kyrie Irving is one of my favorite players and I would love for my game to evolve like his own
With AS Apollon Patras you played from 2015-2018 including with the junior teams. How important were these 3 years in your early basketball development. How do you feel did you grow as a player there?
It was important because I gained a lot of experience and images close to good players who helped me in the development of my game. I am glad that I grew up in such a historic team in my city and it helped a lot in the first steps of my professional career.
How key was experienced Greek point guard Nikos Argyropoulos for your early development? He played his 15th season and last season with Patros when you were only 17 years old.
Nikos was and is my friend first. It is very important that young players are close to such good players with great careers as Nikos. He always supported and advised me and above all he inspired me with his hard work and consistency.
In your last season at AS Apollon Patras (A2, starting five) you had your break out season playing 31 games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 73.8%. What did you learn about yourself as a player that season?
My last year at A2 it was a developed year for me. It helped me gain more confidence and competitiveness and improve my weaknesses.
You were one of the team leaders at only 20 years of age. What was the most important thing that you game gained in this break out season?
It made me more mature and responsible in my game.
You were teammates with ex NBA and Euroleague player Alex Acker. Was he a guy that you wanted to have a special bond to? If so what do you feel could you gain most from his presence?
It is a blessing to be a teammate with such a great player with a career in the NBA and the Euroleague. Alex was friendly and familiar from the first moment and we immediately had a very good relationship. I was impressed by his professionalism, simplicity in his game and I was inspired by his quality technical characteristics.
You have played many games in your young career but was your 26 point game in the win against Papagou a memorable game so far in your career?
I remember this game because it gave me more confidence to have a similar continuity in the next games
You played the last two seasons with GS Lavrio Aegean Cargo (A1). How tough, but also beneficial was that first season? You had limited minutes, but were also teammates with very skilled guards like ex NBA player Doron Lamb and other guys like Zamal Nixon, AJ English, Brandon Young and William Buford. Was there one guy who’s game stood out most to you and where you tried to soak up most from from their game?
It was an adaptation year changing category but more difficult due to level. They were all notable players and each in his own way helped the team. Everyone had something special in their game and I was trying to get what suited me.
This season 2019-2020 you played 4 minutes more per game, but as usual had a lot of American guards on the squad.How tough is that day to day battle in practice with them? What do you feel does your game still need to have polished for you to be a Greek A starter?
The training every day was tough and they helped each other for the good of the team.
You had two solid games against top team Panathinaikos playing against great player Jimmer Fredette and Nick Calathes despite losing badly. Do these type of games where you play well give you the needed confidence to know that you can play against top competition?
When you can cope with the difficulties and demands of such a race, with hard work it is possible to reach a high
During a game do you take the time to observe how a guy like Nick Calathes operates? What is something that his games has that you would like to have?
It takes a lot of experience to understand the game of such a big one
player. I would love to have the opportunity to pass on to his teammates
What is the next step for you? You have always played in Greece. Would you consider playing in another country?
My goal is to improve every day and as a professional I want the best for myself
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced that reached the NBA?
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Acker, Dilllard, Lamb, McCollum, Hickey
Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with 4 heads past or present?
Jordan, Kobe, Harden, Antetokoumpo
Where were you when you heard about the passing of Kobe Bryant? How much of an affect did he have on your basketball life?
I was at home when I found out about his loss and I really couldn’t realize it
What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Both are among the best of all time and each has its own characteristics
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Sarandis for the chat.