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Indonesia's Agassi is absorbing best of both worlds in US, Spain for future of Timnas
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - Agassi Goantara is not on the traditional path one goes through in their basketball career. Few players experience a mix of rich basketball cultures as Agassi has gone through at such a young age.
"I felt honored, proud, and just amazed when I was able to represent Indonesia during the [Pre-Qualifiers]," - Agassi
There's no doubt that this is far from the typical route chosen, which makes sense since Agassi is not your typical prospect. Having already played in the high school level in the US, on Indonesia's senior national team, professionally in the local league, and now semi-professionally in Spain, Agassi has surely accumulated experience beyond his age of just 20-years-old.
The youngster has made several local headlines over the years and recently made the news again after it was announced that he would be playing for the Spanish club, Alhama Club Baloncesto, in the upcoming basketball season. Agassi has already been studying at Universidad Catolica de Murcia in Murcia for the past year and getting play for Alhama is an extension of that opportunity.
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"I'm definitely feeling excited about having this opportunity to play in Spain," Agassi said. "I decided to continue my academic year and basketball career in Spain, knowing that European countries are second best next to the US in terms of basketball."
"I know that there are going to be challenges but I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure it'll make me a better player."
"I, myself, have joined a Spanish club since last year," he also explained, as per Mainbasket. "I played eight games at one of the clubs there. I also faced the club that I just signed up for, Alhama. Unfortunately, the league had to stop because of a pandemic, but Alhama saw my abilities and finally offered me to join last June."
He explained with Mainbasket that he would be playing in the Division 1 National. The league is just one tier below the EBA, which is the 4th division of professional basketball in Spain. However, don't let that fact lure you into underestimating the level of competition.
"To be honest, the competition is not that big of a difference compared to the US," Agassi said. "However, in Spain, they move the ball so well that as a team, we need to constantly communicate. Once we stop communicating, even for a while, 80 percent of the time will be a bucket for the other team."
"I expect challenges such as more communicating in Spanish with my teammates and just playing tougher defense because, in the league, there will be foreign players as well."
Agassi is determined to thrive in this league as much as he can. That is why he has been working hard to improve his communication skills, specifically just speaking Spanish.
"I would say I know the basics [of the language] like the words that are needed for daily conversation, but I still need to learn more. Playing basketball has helped me a lot though, in terms of expanding my Spanish."
Nonetheless, his battles with be on the hardwood where he will also have to communicate by showcasing his basketball skills. It's a good thing that Agassi has been intensely groomed for these opportunities over the recent years, especially during his time playing in the US.
Before his upcoming stint in Spain, Agassi has also played abroad for Walnut High School in California. In his senior year back, the shooting guard averaged 18.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a clear-cut star of the team.
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"Competition in the US is the real deal. I learned a lot," Agassi admitted. "In the US, if I'm not tough, there's no way that my coach would put me on the floor. To be successful playing in the US, I needed to have grit, toughness, confidence, and discipline and I'm glad that through the years, I was able to achieve great achievements for myself."
Fortunately, Agassi was also able to prepare for his "Euro-trip" while playing in his rookie Indonesia Basketball League (IBL) season with Stapac Jakarta. He averaged 6.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game on the way to winning the league's Rookie of the Year honors and the league title in 2019.
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First year, First Place!🥇 Not gonna lie, there were lots of ups and downs during our 2018-2019 season, but we still found a way to push through it ‘till the end! Special thanks to the man on the 2nd slide for being not just a coach, but a teacher, a mentor on and off the court for me and all my teammates. Thank you Coach @ghibbi_z for bringing European Style basketball to Indonesia! And I hope to see you again soon 🙏💫 . . . 📸creds: @ariyakurniawan16
"When I played professionally in Indonesia, I was thankful to be coached by [Giedrius Zibernas]. a Lithuanian coach, so that there would not be much difference playing professionally here and in Spain. Both times, we mainly focused on getting everyone a touch of the ball and trying to always find great or even excellent shots. So it was more team play."
"In the US, it was more one-on-one and brutal physicality. It was like a superstar showcase if there were any on the team."
"Nonetheless, I loved playing in either one. The US taught me how to be mentally and physically tough and how important confidence is for a player. Spain taught me how to be more efficient with the ball and trusting with my teammates. Of course, confidence is extremely needed when playing basketball."
The next step for Agassi is to bring all of that knowledge from the best of both worlds together to raise the level of the Indonesia national team. He already had the chance to suit up as one of Indonesia's best at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers back in 2018 and he's looking forward to more of these honorable opportunities in the future.
"I felt honored, proud, and just amazed when I was able to represent Indonesia during the [Pre-Qualifiers]," Agassi admitted. "That was actually my very first time getting called up to the senior national team."
Aside from the chance to play for the country, Agassi was also able to play with Andakara Prastawa, his childhood idol. Prastawa was also a highly touted prospect who won Rookie of the Year with Stapac but transferred to another team before the two could play together in the IBL. Prastawa, along with the other veterans on the team helped show Agassi the ropes of playing for "Timnas".
"What I remember the most [from the Pre-Qualifiers] was just how my seniors kept on giving me advice on how to read the game correctly and to always be confident. I was the youngest but [the seniors] treated me well and so I was glad for that."
The most valuable piece of advice Agassi received might have come from one of the most respected veterans on that team, Arki Wisnu.
"Arki has been the one that constantly gives me advice. He told me to keep working hard and never be satisfied. There is always room for improvement."
"Many of [the seniors] believe in me that I can help Indonesia Basketball. If I'm being lazy and not working on my skills, that's disrespect towards them."
His seniors and Indonesia basketball fans can rest assured that Agassi will continue to do his best to put on that jersey once again.
"I am really looking forward to playing for the Indonesia national team again. I'll always be ready for a call-up. Its something wonderful when you are able to represent your country in sports."