|In his first Turkish Airlines Euroleague season at age 27, Anadolu Efes guard Sasha Vujacic has been tested on a weekly basis by the best players and team on the continent. And despite some tough outcomes, Vujacic has remained productive and optimistic. The former two-time NBA champion, who has been nicknamed “The Machine,” leads Efes in scoring with 13.6 points per game and is second in the Euroleague in free throw shooting at 91.5 percent. This week Vujacic stepped away from the courts to answer questions from fans around Turkey, Europe and the world on an array of topics. In addition to fielding questions about life in Istanbul and Efes’s season, Vujacic gave advice to an aspiring young shooter and was surprised by another question from one of his very own Anadolu Efes teammates! Among the things that shined through in several of his answers were Vujacic’s confidence and commitment to winning. “We faced many good teams and we were up for a lot of tough challenges. Sometimes we didn't come up with the winning effort. But you know, you learn,” Vujacic responded in one answer. “We have 5% chances to advance [to the playoffs] now. Hopefully we can catch momentum again and be back on the right track and stay there and not let any team beat us, especially on our home court.”
Sasha, firstly I want to note that you seem very adaptable and friendly to our Turkish culture. Some foreign players have problems to adjust to other countries. What allowed you to adapt to Turkey so quickly and successfully? All the best!
Betul; Trabzon, Turkey
"Well, I learned in life that you have to find the positive side of things and always overcome the negative. Once I found out that I was going to play in Turkey, I accepted the challenge. I accepted the culture and everything that came with it. To be honest, living in Istanbul is great and it reminds me a little of Los Angeles because it features a lot of nations living there. The city has a lot of things to offer starting with its rich history and the old town, or the new town now. It even spreads on to another continent, Asia. I respect it very much because I love history and everybody in Turkey has been really nice to me from day one, so it was really easy to adapt to this new life for me."
Hello, Machine! I have two questions. First, do you wish to stay with Efes, If they would like to renew your contract? And second, why do you think Efes failed to win a game against the best eight-to-10 Euroleague teams? What do we need?
Y.Yigit Sekerci; Istanbul
"First of all, you don't want to think about the future far ahead, but you go day by day. Everybody in Turkey and Efes accepts me and I am really enjoying it here. The crowd is really passionate about basketball, which is a great thing to see. Why we failed in the Euroleague? It's irrelevant to answer right now and I was never the person to point fingers. We failed because we were not ready, or because we were not at the moment in the best basketball level, so hopefully we will recover."
Hello Sasha, Do you have any good travel anecdotes from opposing city’s fan or game stories from the Euroleague this year?
Petar Kokic (Peki); Dallas, USA
"No. It was all fine. Everywhere we played there was a great atmosphere, but where I enjoyed it the most it was at Partizan. There was an incredible crowd and an incredible atmosphere. But no craziness in the trips."
Hey Sasha, I am an Anadolu Efes fan. What is the reason for so many up and downs in our games?
Korhan Ercin, Turkey
"That's a very good question. Maybe it's not a question I should answer but, you know, once you know you are on the right track, then something else happens again. It's hard to answer that question. It's very frustrating knowing that in the Euroleague we are in a position that we shouldn't be in, because we have 5% chances to advance now. Hopefully we can catch momentum again and be back on the right track and stay there and not let any team beat us, especially on our home court."
Hello Sasha, I am very pleased to see you playing in such good form. You had to put a lot of work into it. How important is the summer workout for you and which part of the game do you work on the most in the summer?
Mark Hudobivnik, Slovenia
"Well, one thing about basketball is that I love it. I don't really see it as a job or anything. I enjoy it and I love some of the workouts that go with it. And it's something I learned in my career that no matter how the season is going, good or bad, you have to stick to some kind of, let's call it half-ritual, to always do some extra work after workouts and use every off date as a possible workout day. It's something that I like to do and I love to work hard, so with a lot of that many things are possible in that."
Hey Sasha! First of all thanks for your performance up to this time. I hope that you continue getting better and better. How does it feel to live in Istanbul? Has anything surprised you here? What do you love the most about Turkey?
Ozge Atabey, Turkey
"Thank you, I feel very welcome and pleased to be in Turkey. It was a great challenge for me but I have to say that I miss home. Being in the NBA for so long, you start missing that at one point. However now I am here and I think Istanbul is a great city and it has a lot to offer, so it's great."
Hello Sasha! Efes has played already against Madrid, Maccabi, CSKA, Olympiacos... how strong do you find the Euroleague, is it better than you expected?
Matej Podvrsnik, Slovenia
"It's really good. A very high level of basketball and honestly, I expected what I saw. I think that we faced many good teams and we were up for a lot of tough challenges. Sometimes we didn't come up with the winning effort. But you know, you learn. Maybe we deserved a little better and we could have been in a better position right now playing against all those big teams. They are all big teams with a lot of history in the Euroleague, and we have a lot of respect for everyone."
Hey Sasha, I am Jesus from Spain. I am a shooting guard in my junior team and you are my favorite player. How many shots do you take after practice? Did you take more shots on your own growing up? Thanks and good luck!
Jesus Garcia; Burgos, Spain
"Hola Jesus! Well, when I was your age, I was probably taking a lot more shots than I am right now. It was a lot of quantity of shots learning how to make shots, learning all the little details. Also starting to understand how to do it, how to play on court, you start getting experience and you start turning that quantity of shots into quality of shots, so you go down from 1,000 shots when you are 16 years old to, maybe, 500 shots with no nonsense. Every shot has to count and the practice has to be 100 percent and then you can become what your goals are."
Hello Sasha, it's your teammate Dusko Savanovic. You promised to invite me for coffee all season, but haven't done it since you bought your new coffee machine three months ago. Now that everyone knows, when are you gonna invite me?
Dusko Savanovic, Istanbul, Turkey
"Well, Dusko is a funny guy. Dusko, I invited you for coffee so many times, but you are true to your own company that we don't want to promote right now [but it's called Nescafe.] I drink real coffee and that is an espresso, so whenever you are ready to come and have an Italian espresso, or better said, a macchiato, I will be more than happy to make it for you!"