Sidy Cissoko: « It was the best choice »

“Why did you choose to try the G-League Ignite adventure?
I had several options to choose from. Go to Australia, go somewhere in Europe like Lithuania or Serbia. I saw the work G-League Ignite did with the last players they got. They almost all went out in the first round of the draft. I found it to be the best choice.

France was not an option?
The problem in France is that I am not considered a locally trained player. I went to Spain U15 second year. I just needed a year to do in France. This is a concern for the teams. Basically, it was like I was a foreigner. Clubs sometimes prefer to take an American with experience than take an 18-year-old player who has not been trained locally. We don’t know if he will adapt well.

And why didn’t you try to win your place in Baskonia in Spain?
It was in relation to the draft. In Baskonia, there were good players with me. There are some here too, but it’s more of a development project. In Baskonia, the goal is to win the Liga Endesa and the Top 4 in Euroleague. I would rather train for the draft than stay in Liga Endesa.

“When I arrived, I was slapped! I didn’t think it was that fast”

How are the beginnings going?
I had visa problems. So I arrived three weeks ago instead of August. I was really knocked out. with the time-zone difference. There, I’m still a little knocked out. The air conditioning and the change of temperature, that does not suit me (laughs). When I arrived, it gave me a slap! I didn’t think it was that fast. It’s natural for them to play fast, run, jump high. Physically, I was not ready at all. In Europe, we play more with the head, we base ourselves on intelligence.

Sidy Cissoko in training.  (X. De Nauw/DR)

Sidy Cissoko in training. (X. De Nauw/DR)

Yet you’re also an athletic fullback, capable of dunking.
Yes, but Americans are above on physical preparation.

The NBA presents Ignite as preparation for professionalism.
They give us the message that the next step is really the NBA. Physically, they kill us! (laughs). But if we then go to the next level, we will be used to it. On nutrition, they’re on me. I arrived with extra pounds. I must have lost six kilos since. They are not joking! It’s intensive. And then there’s experience on the team with former NBA players. They know how franchises work. For now, I can’t say much more. I just arrived.

Ignite also trains you for life off the pitch.
Lots of NBA players lose all their money at once after their career. So they explain to us how to keep our money, how to use it well, how not to do  »bullshit », sorry for the word. They also told us about taxes because here they change from state to state.

“I will try to aim for the Top 10. But as long as I am in the NBA, I will be very happy. My dream will come true”

Since the program is to help you in the draft, what position are you aiming for?
It’s going to sound funny to you but when I was in the Spanish second division, I didn’t think about the draft at all. We were playing the maintenance and that was all I thought about. We really gave everything to maintain ourselves and we did it. It was after the European U18 Championship that I started talking about draft and G League Ignite. First, it’s going to be complicated because there’s Victor! And my teammate too (Scoot Henderson). So, I will try to aim for the Top 10. But as long as I am in the NBA, I will be very happy. My dream will come true.

Precisely, the media attention aroused by the presence of Victor this week in Vegas, it is also an opportunity to show the franchises, right?
Everyone, even Levallois players, will try to steal the show from Victor! But it makes me very happy to see where he arrived because when I was young, we often played against each other. I know him very well. He knows me very well. In U13, U15, I was in the Essonne center and he was in Nanterre. Every year, it was a 91 against 92 final. In the selection of regions, I think it was Victor who won most often. In club, I would say it was us with Ris-Orangis. »

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