The making of a leader is the subject of the newest edition of The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas and his special guest, Tornike "Toko" Shengalia, the captain of KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and one of the most respected players in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
From humble beginnings in his home country of Georgia, Shengelia has criss-crossed the globe with a singular sense of purpose that is evident from the way he plays the game with heart, determination and non-stop effort.
7:10 "We didn't have electricity. During the day, electricity might come like two hours. You would have your two hours, and then the next neighborhood," Shengelia recalls.
Basketball, which ran in his family, became Shengelia's way out:
10:35 "My first basketball memory, at five or six years old, for my birthday my parents gave me a basketball. And ever since, there was nothing else on my mind."
A clue to Shengelia's strength of purpose is the fact that his father, Kakha Shengelia, preceded him as a force in Georgian basketball as a 2.10-meter center.
8:40 "I didn't remember my father's prime time," he says, "but I remember him being very, very tough on the court. He was mean... He was huge, like 140 or 150 kilos. Pure power."
By 15 years old, Shengelia left home by acing a tryout opportunity with Valencia Basket, with whom he went on to win the EuroCup title in 2010 before moving to Belgium and then Brooklyn and Chicago of the NBA. He arrived to Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2014 and quickly became the new personification of "Baskonia Character".
Shengelia's singular capacity to push himself to the limit was rewarded when he made the All-EuroLeague First Team at the end of the 2017-18 season. Now in his sixth season with Baskonia, Shengelia is currently a EuroLeague All-Decade nominee. The match between a club famed for its fighting spirit and a player who showed the same spirit since his youth has been a perfect one.
45:05 "It was kind of in my DNA," Shengelia says. "Sometimes, even if I was tired and thought I could go more, I would go more. It's something that's in me."
His desire to always do more is also the basis for Shengelia's philosophy of leadership by example:
46:20 "Whenever you go and think you are working hard and say, 'OK, this practice is over.' That, for me, is the breaking point to say, 'Can you do more?'"
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. This season, he is also reviewing the EuroLeague's modern history in its 20th season of this century by talking to the legends who have made the competition more popular than ever.
The Crossover debuted last season with such current stars as Vassilis Spanoulis and Kyle Hines, coaching greats like Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Nikola Vujcic and Robertas Javtokas, among others. Recent guests include coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and Real Madrid star Walter Tavares.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on Stitcher, iVoox, iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, CastBox and other platforms.