BarcelonaSitapha Savané (Dakar, 1998) is a former basketball player who has become one of the regular analysts at Movistar +. The ex-pivot of Joventut, who has not lost fluency in Catalan, analyzes the Endesa League final between Barça and Madrid, but does not shy away from questions about issues that transcend sport.
What is your analysis of the Endesa League final?
– We all saw how Barça arrived at the end of the season. Last year he did not get there in the best conditions either. In no case can we forget the covid when doing a full reading. I have a feeling that after the Cup, when they had a few weeks of relaxation, they left a lot of physical strength. That would add to the mental aspect. It feels like playing with such a demanding coach has also caused mental fatigue. All together, added to the disappointment of losing against the eternal rival to the final four of the Euroleague, made us not see the team again as we had seen before. Make a good one final four it would have given him a different energy.
The inside game was decisive, but in the previous five games it hadn’t been a problem.
– This has a very simple explanation. Barça reached the final with only Brandon Davies as five because the injury left Sertaç Sanli far from his usual level. If you stay alone with Davies, who was at his worst, you have a huge difference. In fact, in previous games Madrid’s home players had not played well against Barça. Edy Tavares had never played like that because Barça were able to attack him. The Madrid pivots suffered a lot because the mobility and outside shot of the five of the Barça team was imposed on their centimeters and muscles. Davies was a shadow of what he had been and was able to attempt a few four- or five-meter shots. If you play with a smaller five near the basket, you make things very easy for the opponent.
Edy Tavares dominated the final.
– Madrid signed Tavares to have a Mutombo-style player, who plugged and covered the team behind. But his evolution has brought him closer to a mix between Mutumbo and Shaquille O’Neal, because he now also has offensive dominance. I didn’t understand how having a player like that, who had shown that he could be decisive under the basket, Madrid didn’t take advantage of him anymore. When the white team was seen without bases and just cash on the perimeter, he began to take advantage of it more and reached the final with a great moment of confidence, especially in attack.
Jan Vesely and Oscar da Silva serve to improve the inside game.
– I was a big fan of the good version of Brandon Davies, the one we’ve seen for a long time, but Vesely is a player top of the Euroleague that can bring a lot to the team. An inside game with Sanli, Vesely and Da Silva is no small feat. It remains to be seen how they combine with each other, but I like the idea.
Do you like that of being an analyst on television?
– This has been my fourth season as an analyst, which is something I had never done before. Spanish is still my fifth language and I still have a bit of insecurity. I would be more comfortable doing it in French or English, but I really enjoy it. I retired being very veteran and already had a very analytical view of the game. I had to better understand the game to get where with my physique I could no longer. That helped me. What I am trying to do is give the player vision and speak, in quotes, on his behalf. I understand the tactical part of the game well because I’ve always been a good student, but I’m not a coach.
A Barça-Madrid always polarizes everything. How do you handle criticism?
– It’s not a part that bothers me much. It has to do with social media and the moment we meet. I’m glad they tell me I’m anti some team, when I’m more pro stuff. I am not accused of being pro Penya or pro Gran Canaria, when everyone knows my emotional connection with them, so the conclusion is that most of the noise has to do with the polarization of a Barça-Madrid. I always listen to constructive criticism to try to improve, but other comments are harder to take seriously.
You were a big fan of ‘Poland’. How is Catalan?
– All my Catalan friends speak Catalan to me, especially in Badalona. From my former teacher Jaume Comas to Salva Maldonado or his family. I try to keep talking about it so as not to lose its fluency.
The last time I interviewed him he asked for the voice of the Catalans to be heard and this led to criticism.
– With this issue it is a bit like what happens with a Barça-Madrid. The polarization is so great that no matter what you say, you will receive. For some it will not be enough. For others, it will be too much. I’m rational and I try to argue things out, so I’ve always stayed on the same point. I was called a pro-independence activist. I talked about dialogue and went further. If you have a problem, you need to find a solution. We live in a democratic country and you can’t hide the opinion of millions of people under the rug. You can’t force people to be something against their will. The decibel point has dropped, but I’m very worried about where we’re going now. We need the courage of leaders and society. The political class is disappointing us when we need it most.