HoopsHype.com Interviews

Thabo Sefolosha: "I like being compared to Diaw"
by Jorge Sierra / January 2, 2006

You were born in Switzerland, but your parents are from South Africa. Why did they leave the county?

Thabo Sefolosha: Only my father is from South Africa. He is black and my mother is white. And, you know, it was hard for them to stay together there during the apartheid. So they decided to move to Switzerland for that reason.

Have you ever been to South Africa?

TS: Yes, I've been there. Most of my family still lives there.

Do you like the country?

TS: Yeah, I love it. I love it.

How did you get into basketball? Basketball is not that popular in Switzerland...

TS: There was a neighbor near my house that played basketball. We started playing with him, me and my brother. We tried to play that game, too. We started playing then and we've been playing ever since.

When did you realize you wanted to play basketball for a living?

TS: I fell in love with basketball fast. It was early. That's the thing I like to do the most and wanted to live doing that.

Weren't you interested in becoming an artist like your parents?

TS: I was not interested in that. I was more into sports, you know.

You left Switzerland for France when you were 18. How was the first year there, when you didn't play much?

TS: I would say it was a great experience for me to leave Switzerland and play in France for a pro team. That was a great experience, even if I didn't play much my first year there.

You moved to Italy last summer. What was the main reason?

TS: Get more playing time in a stronger league. That was the reason.

There was a little bit of trouble with your old team. Some people at Elan Chalon said they felt betrayed when you left the club. Can you explain that?

TS: Last summer, I had the chance to re-negotiate my contract with the club. We were supposed to reach an agreement, but when my agent and the president started talking, they couldn't agree on a contract. They wanted to keep me, but at the same time I had this offer from Italy. That's when I decided that the best thing for my career was to play in Biella. Yes, there was a little bit of trouble, but in the end it was OK.

Tell me a little bit about your season so far in Italy. Have you noticed a big difference between the French and the Italian league?

TS: Yes. It's more physical. And the players, they are more talented in Italy. I like being here. I've been playing OK. I think, though, that we can do it better as a team and I hope that we reach the playoffs.

How does it feel being the center of attention of NBA scouts this season?

TS: I like it. But really, I try not to think too much about it. I'm proud about it, but I try not to pay much attention to that.

But isn't the NBA in the back of your mind a little bit when there's so many people saying you will get drafted this year?

TS: A little bit. But it's real hard getting there. Everybody wants to go there and very, very few make it. There's nothing sure.

Do you check the mock drafts in the Internet?

TS: I have in the past, but right now I really don't know. I really try not to put much stock on what other people say.

What is your contract situation with Biella?

TS: I have three years in my contract. It's 1+1+1. I have the chance to leave after each season in my contract.

So you wouldn't have to pay a buyout if you decide to leave the team?

TS: No, I would still have to pay a buyout to get out of my contract.

Is it an expensive buyout or is it affordable?

TS: Oh, affordable.

Tell me a little bit about your game. How would you describe yourself as a player?

TS: An all-around player. I can rebound, run the court, play defense. I can score, too. I can say I do a little bit of everything.

Do you take more pride on your defense or your offense?

TS: I think that my main strength so far is my defense. That's what first got me time on the court in France. But I can score, too.

What do you think about the comparisons with Boris Diaw?

TS: It's a good comparison. I like it. I think he's a good player. He wasn't playing very well last year, but this year he's doing well, so it's good to be compared to him.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com

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