France: Savasta Still Enjoying Life At The Top

03 February 2005
By Neale Graham, PA International

Laure Savasta is at the peak of her powers. 

Captain of Tarbes Gespe Bigorre, one of the continent's leading teams, Savasta has experience of the WNBA, has played at the Olympics and was a champion of Europe in 2001.

She is taking her coaching badges to prepare for a career in the game when her playing days draw to a close.

Single and without children, she has devoted her life to the orange ball and she insists she would have it no other way.

The love affair began two decades ago.

"I was nine years old and the reason I started playing basketball was that I saw one of my teachers playing in school," Savasta, 30, said.

Laure Savasta
I wanted to play but there were no girls' teams where I lived so I had to play with the guys.

"From there I was selected to play for a team in my department in the south of France, then for a regional team before I was selected for the national team when I was 15."

Spells in Paris and Nice saw her flourish in her late-teens to become ranked France's fourth-best player.

Seeking a challenge and faced with a crossroads, she took the route across the pond to a three-year stint with the University of Washington's Huskies.

"Then the Sacramento Monarchs came in for me (1997). The WNBA was a really good experience and they wanted me to stay for a second season but I had choices to make.

"I thought it would be difficult to make my name over there.

"It was very hard for me. Also, playing in the WNBA meant my summers would have been taken up.

"I wanted to get ready for the European Championships and the Olympics and when I look at it I think I made the right decision."

She probably has, helping France to a "disappointing" fifth at the "awesome" Sydney games and then a year later hitting her career zenith when Les Bleus won the 2001 European Championships.

Savasta has now retired from international competition - "the national team is a young person's' game and I'd done everything I wanted to do" - to concentrate on her club game with Tarbes.

The point guard has an 11.6 points-per-game average this season in FIBA's EuroLeague and is happy with her form.

She said: "I try to score points and in my position it's about shooting. But I am always trying to get my team-mates to play better.

"I'm looking to get them to play better basketball."

Tarbes are currently third in Group C but with win/loss ratios playing a decisive part in a team's ranking in the knockout stages, Sevasta is cautious about the chances of cup success.

"I depends who we get," she explained. "We'll probably be ranked 10th or 11th and we could get drawn against the seventh-ranked team, someone like Bourges, who we also face in the French championship too.

"But my team is getting better and better and in basketball you never know. We have a chance."

She turns 31 in March and believes she has two to three years left in her to fulfil her ambitions - to carry on enjoying playing.

"My coach says I'm like French wine - the older I get the better I get, so I want to listen to him," the Marseille-born star laughed.

"I just want to keep being myself on the court, to give 100% and to enjoy playing as much as I can.

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