Georgian Diminutive Point Guard Sandro Zandukeli Makes Up For A Lack Of Height With Heart

Sandro Zandukeli is a 17 year old 175cm point guard from Georgia. He recently played with Martve Tbilisi U18 team (U18 League) 8,6ppg, 6,8rpg, 4,4apg and 2,8spg. Last season he played with the BC Orbi U18 team (U18 League) playing 15 game averaging 6.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 41.2%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 46.7%. He spoke to during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hi Sandro 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 Viruss

Hello,I’m in Georgia,Tbilisi,fortunately the corona virus did not affect my psyche which surprised me a lot.

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?

First when I heard about the Corina Virus,I thought it would be a seasonal common virus and until I officialy stopped everything I did not believe in this virus.

How did you experience the day to day life in Georgiaduring 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?

After the Corona Virus spread,I had to rest for a while. This rest affected me well. Unfortunately ,I can’t train with the team anymore and we can’t play games, but the positive thing is that I train with a physical trainer individually.

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,I try not to cling people ,but if I meet them, I always have the necessary items to protect myself from the Corona Virus.

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season? 

Perhaps this was the biggest disappointment moment ,because this age is most important for me , my teammates and all the basketball players in general who play under 18 (u18)also we had a good season ,our team was a top team in the league ,which is the merit our coach Irakli Tomaradze.

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 without fans it will be very difficult, because some players play for fans like NBA players but if we want to continue the season ,we have to wait a while.

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?

As a person the virus helped me a lot to get to know myself better.

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? 

I think everyone should wait until this Corona Virus is completely gone and then everyone will do their best in their case. Health is the most important thing.

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? 

No one knows what will happen next season, but I’m ready to play basketball .

How have you experienced the day to day life back home ? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 wall

As I mentioned at the beginning of the conversation, the Corona Virus has greatly changed my daily life. I don’t keep fit my body ,I train to become better and start the season prepared.

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?

With my old teammates who are my friends. We have daily conversations about basketball and life.

Let’s talk about your career. You are from Georgiaand began your career at age 7. Who were your early basketball role models growing up?

Yes.I started playing basketball at age 7.I started playing basketball at the Basketball Club Orbi,where I learned a lot about basketball and life ,which is the merit of my coaches. I’m very grateful for what they have done for me. First, I want to play for them. I want to mention the persons who helped me grow with my coaches :,Zviad Didbaridze , Nino Kipshidze,Vasil Berekashvili. They were and are my friends on and off the court.

You are a short point guard at 1,75cm. If you had to compare your game to other professional plyers playing in the world, who would you choose

I like European basketball, because I learned a lot from them. There are more exciting basketball and going good games during the season. I like how Facundo Campazzo plays. I like his style and energy.

You have played in Georgia since the U-12. How have you seen your own basketball development and do you think that you will grow some more centimeters in the next years? 

When I was 12 years old I had no experience on Basketball and life .After 12 I learned a lot about everything and will learn a lot more in the future. As for the cemtimeters ,after 12 I have grown exactly 16 centimetres.

You’re a player that can fill the stat sheet with ease. What other strengths do you have in your game?

During the game I try to do everything and put my whole heart into one particular play. My strengths are speed, defense,and energy.

On what things re you working on most now on the court besides getting a stronger body so you will continue to develop further as player?

Yes, I want to become physically stronger than I was ,for which I train 4-5 hours per day.

You produce a lot of turnovers. Do you feel like your height makes it more difficult to see the floor in certain situations? As you get older players won’t be getting smaller. How do you see improving in these areas?

Height doesn’t stop me to play my games. If you want something ,I can give it to you. As for turnovers ,I will definitely improve my ball handling.

Your three pointer is also a work in progress. How are you going about making the shot more consistent?

I always want to improve myself and I don’t want to stay the same .As for the three pointer I train on it every day to make it better .

How important has head coach Irakli Tomaradze been for your development in the last season?

He is a very good coach. He has done a lot for my development on and off the court. He is one of the best coaches I ever had. He is very experienced and a smart coach ,also he is a National Team coach of Georgia. I’m thankful for him and what he has done for me and .I hope to be a member of his team next season.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Oh this is a difficult question, but I choose this starting five. Point Guard ..Giorgi Tsamalaidze, Shooting Guard .Sandro Katsashvil, Small Forward.Tedo Basilashvili, Power Forward.Giorgi Kvinikadze, Center.Roma Chincharauli and Nikoloz Ratiani.

What was the last movie that you saw?

‘The Last Dance’ which was the best movie I’ve ever saw. Also I want to say that Scottie Pippen was everything for the Bulls. Anyone who hasn’t seen this movie ,I recommend to watch and enjoy it.

Thanks Sandro for the chat.

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