First Final Four sparks gold rush for super rookie Sabally
ISTANBUL (Turkey) - She may not have made it to the title game at her maiden EuroLeague Women Final Four, but Satou Sabally is already intent on chasing gold next time.
Signing off a sparkling first season at the showpiece event by finishing in third place with Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo, the German forward is ready to use her experience of falling short to fuel future title bids.
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"I'm happy and I think we can be really proud of the season and of ourselves," said Sabally.
"Obviously we wanted to make it to the Final and that didn't work out, but I see it as a motivation. When I look at the bronze medal, I am going to be really encouraged and motivated to go hard next season and make the Final game next year.
"A lot of people were saying that it would be hard to be motivated for the Third Place game after a tough Semi-Final against Ekat, but I was super motivated. I want to win every single game that I go into. I always prepare myself the same way."
"I LOVE PLAYING EUROLEAGUE WOMEN. THE COMPETITIVENESS IS SO BIG. THE WOMEN I'M PLAYING AGAINST ARE JUST TOP TIER."
She continued: "I have had great teammates that have taught me so many things this past season. I feel like in every game I was learning something. I have also gained a lot of muscle this year and have stayed healthy, which is a really great thing.
"I have learned so many new things that at times, I have felt as if I have not played basketball before in my life. It's been amazing, so much fun and I really want that gold next time."
It's no surprise that with 13.4 points and 7.1 boards per game, many observers have Sabally slated as the standout rookie of the campaign, further enhanced by the fact that she made the All-EuroLeague Women Second Team.
Embracing a competition that she had always dreamed of appearing in, it has served as a perfect source to feed the voracious competitive streak of the Fenerbahce star.
"I love playing EuroLeague Women. The competitiveness is so big," stated Sabally.
"The women I'm playing against are just top tier. They were my inspiration when I was growing up and now I can finally play against them so every game is hard.
"I love it and it makes me better. It's fast, smart and brutal."
Her impressive exploits, including those in the WNBA as well as EuroLeague Women, have already established Sabally as a major role model for young and aspiring ballers. Consequently, she is keen to pass on the benefit of her experiences so that more young women can follow in her footsteps.
"WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HAS SUCH A BRIGHT FUTURE... THERE ARE AMAZING GIRLS COMING UP AND THEY ARE IN GREAT HANDS.THEY ARE DOING AMAZING."
"Let's start with giving advice to little girls because I played against boys and it made me really so much better, especially at a young age," she mused.
"They are rough, and they make you better, they make you tough, so don't be afraid to pick up the ball and ask them to play a pickup game, just do it. Continue to have fun and see your progress and little things.
"Sometimes it's hard to keep in perspective how far you've come and the little achievements you've made. So, just write them down, write your goals down - that always helped me. Whether it is what you want to be when you’re older or how you want to become that person. Set yourself little goals and then look at the bigger picture, overall."
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Sabally's enthusiasm to help the next generation is infectious, also driven by the fact that she has seen so many other young players making an impact at all levels.
"Women's basketball has such a bright future," she insisted.
"Some of them are doing things that I wasn't doing at their age. There are amazing young girls coming up and they are in great hands, they are doing amazing.
"I always love seeing young people coming up and playing in EuroLeague Women or playing in the WNBA, it's always great to see when they make it," concluded Sabally.