Half-Court Press: Amanda Zahui

23 August 2012

15. Amanda Zahui (Sweden)
Amanda Zahui has proved that she has a lot of qualities on and off the court, although she could improve on her cooking skills

She's rated as one of the top prospects under the hoop in Europe and having helped her team go from promotion to the Quarter-Finals of the U20 European Championship Women, Amanda Zahui takes on a Half-Court Press.

The 18-year old center is averaging 9.0 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds for her team and is currently in the top ten for two-point field goal percentage and offensive rebounding.

But, that is hardly surprising after an eye-popping debut campaign at club level with Telge Basket in EuroCup Women when she finished with an incredible double-double season of 18.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. What's your first basketball memory?
Amanda Zahui: My first basketball memory is when my dad and mum gave me my first basketball. It was outside the gym just before my first practice and it was raining. I was so happy and excited.

Why did you want to become a basketball player?
At first it was just a fun thing to do, but with time, I realized I could become good at it and I really love this sport. And it's not just a sport to me, it has become a lifestyle.

If you were at the Olympics but not as a basketball player, which other sport do you think it would be fun to win a gold medal in?
I think volleyball would be really fun.

What is your perfect vacation, relaxation in an exotic place or more activities and exploring?
I would pick an exotic place since I'm kind of lazy. And I love to just chill and relax without doing anything!

If you could only listen to one song again for the rest of your life what would it be?
That question is really hard! Especially because I have periods where I only listen to one song and that changes. So right now, it would probably be ‘Every Girl' by Lil Wayne or ‘One and Only' by Adele .

What is your most valuable personal item/possession?
My iPod - hands down! I can't imagine my life without music. And, a big plus with my iPod is that I have pictures of my family and the internet on it.

Do you have any pre-game ritual or superstition?
OMG, yes! I have to put on my socks and shoes on the left side first, but I can't pull the socks up and tie the shoes until I have done it on my right side. So, it takes me a while to get ready and I can't sit next to Ulrica Holmqvist when I'm in the locker room or on the bench since she gives me bad luck!

Which Swedish senior national team player do you admire most and why?
'Lollo' Halvarsson has always been one of the players that I looked up to, but I also really admire the twins Frida and Elin Eldebrink for the way they work and always fight for their team. They also make everybody else better and they are really nice off the court as well.

What is your favourite moment from any youth tournament and why?
My favourite moment from a youth tournament must be when we played the Swedish U15 National Championship and we got to the final but we lost against Farhiya Abdi and Sandra Ngoie's team but nobody ever expected us to get that far and I was so proud of my team! We did a really great job.

What was it like beating Spain in the Second Round? It was an amazing game for those of us who watched it!
It felt really good, I mean Spain is a top nation and has always been. So to beat them, really showed everybody, including ourselves, that we are good and can play together with the top nations. And especially after the senior team also beat them - it gives us the hope and confidence to develop and keep on getting better. It was a motivational win.

Sweden celebrate their victory over Lithuania
Sweden are the only team to have defeated defending champions Spain in Debrecen, finishing the Second Round on top of Group E

What has Sweden done well in Debrecen and what must you do better to win your Quarter-Final?
We have really come together and played as a team, especially when we really needed it. But, we really have to stay focused for whole games and play together because that is when we play as a top team and can beat opponents like Spain.

If you didn't play basketball and you could do any other job - what would it be?
I would love to travel and help children and people all over the world. And really help them to feel safe and just put a smile on their faces!

What are the best three things about being from or living in Sweden?
The three best things about living in Sweden is that firstly, we have a really mixed population with different religions and cultures. The food is often much better than in other countries and it's a country where you don't often see discrimination.

Who is the most sensible of your team-mates and who is the craziest and why?
The craziest in our team are Farhiya Abdi, Binta Drammeh, Sandra Ngoie, Alice Nystrom and mysef. I actually think we might be more weird than crazy but honestly, it's a good thing.

Can you cook? If you were cooking a meal for your coach what would it be?
I believed I could cook but after living with Binta who said I can't, I really don't know anymore, ha ha!
If I were to cook a meal for the coach, it would probably be pasta and tuna, I don't want to put too much work into his food!

What was the last movie you watched at the Cinema?
It was ‘Think like a man, act like a lady', when I was in the States.

What's your best quality as a player and as a person and what is the worst?
I think that my best qualities as a player is that I can really lift my team just with my energy and my worst is that I really show it when I am mad and that can bring the team and myself down really bad.
My best quality as a person is that I always want people around me to feel good and to be happy - I really fight for that. And the worst thing is that I find itreally hard to forgive and when I am mad, I am really mad!

What are your favourite other sports and which teams do you follow?
I don't follow any other teams, except when there is the World or European Championship in football.

What are the most important things for a basketball player to have?
It's patience and heart in what you are doing. Because, we can always get better as long as we work hard and in the effort.

There's only two seconds on the shot clock, do you pass or shoot?
I shoot.


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