AX Armani Exchange Milan forward-center Ben Bentil gave an interesting and lengthy interview on the club's website.

Benjamin Bentil

Benjamin  Bentil
Benjamin  Bentil
MIN: 8.97
PTS: 8 (66.67%)
REB: 6
As: 0
ST: 0
BL: 0
TO: 1
GM: 1

The newest acquisition of the Italian club explained how he came to take up basketball while growing up in his native Ghana.

Meme Falconer, the local Kobe Bryant, became his coach, his mentor, his friend. “Meme was a huge factor in who I am today because he took me under his wing as a big brother, and as a father figure. He helped me become a man, not only as a basketball player.

He gave me the skills, something that he possessed because he was an icon back home. So, he was somebody we looked up to, and just the fact that he passed all that to me and somehow live the dream he wanted to live for him had a big impact on me”.

“Now, I want to pave the way for the younger guys coming up. I know kids that are looking up to me and say I wanna be where Ben got to,” Bentil pointed out, feeling like he is not just representing himself and his big family, but a whole country.

When he was 15, Bentil left his native country and embarked on a long journey to the United States.

“The transition from Ghana to the States was pretty hard because I’ve always been a mama’s boy. Being away from my mother was the hardest part, I love the food that my mom was cooking, so not being able to get for holidays the attention of my mom was hard.

The culture is different, but at the same time I knew the mission. It was an opportunity to get better myself and get a better life for my family, my mom. So, it was like Ok, you can cry about it but at the same time be a man and just deal with it,” Bentil says.

When Bentil went to Providence to play college ball, he became a star, a household name. In his second year, he started 32 of Providence’s 35 games, scored in double-figures on 31 occasions, scored at least 20 points 21 times. He scored 31 points and 13 rebounds during an overtime win on the home court of Villanova, in Philadelphia. He scored a career-high 42 points at Marquette.

The Friars made the NCAA Tournament and he was terrific again. They were eliminated by North Carolina, the eventual champions. He was named to the All-Big East first-team.

“My freshman season, I had seniors in front of me. They’ve been playing big-time. We had Kris Dunn, we had LaDontae Henton, we had all these guys, so I was learning, I followed the lead and wait for my chance. When it was my time, I just took over, I put a lot of work done that summer because I wanted to be a leader, I wanted to be respected because I’m big in respect. This is how you get respect.

In the end, I think it was more about me getting my chances, the confidence, and the work I put in”, he says.

He was so good during his sophomore season that he couldn't stay at Providence any longer. He also had a family life to improve back home. He declared for the NBA draft and was selected by the Boston Celtics.

“It was an unbelievable feeling, for a kid from Ghana, with a single mother, four brothers… if you told me that I was going to America, play basketball, have my name being called on draft night I’d said this is not possible.”

It actually happened, because of “hard work, luck, and meeting guys that made everything possible. I was not just proud to represent not only me but a whole country, not my family, but the whole country,” he explains.

He never made the Boston Celtics team, but he was signed by the Dallas Mavericks and became the first Ghanaian player to step on the court in the NBA, in 2017. Eventually, Bentil played in France, Spain, China and finally Peristeri and Panathinaikos in Greece.

“That was great. I mean the experience of playing in the EuroLeague which is the highest level possible in Europe, the best competition, where you face the best of the best every night. It taught me a lot about European basketball, what you need to do to help. You have to come ready to play day in day out, can’t take any day off.

Panathinaikos became home to me; Athens became home because I stayed there a long time.”

With Panathinaikos, he managed to win the Greek championship twice. Then he moved briefly to Istanbul and finally came to Milan. When he was called, Bentil received another call.

“My guy, Dinos Mitoglou,” he recalls. “He was actually the first guy who called me and talked to me about this move. Coach asked him about me, because Dinos and I played well together.

Outside the court, we are good friends. I was happy for him that he signed here, so when I got this opportunity, I knew it was great because we talked when we were at Panathinaikos about how it’d be cool to play with each other again.”

Bentil is different from Mitoglou as a player. He showed his skills right from the beginning. “I’m a bully," he describes himself, "but I’m a nice bully.

I’m going to provide a lot of energy, which is something I’ll bring every time, and just go all in hard. I play extremely aggressively. I’m a highly energetic player.”

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2-pointers this season

Points made: 18,2
Accuracy: 52,6%
Place in standings: 15
Record max: 25
Record min: 13
Most made 2FGs: Shavon Shields