Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Lenovo Tenerife's guard Sasu Salin is coming from one of the best seasons in his career.

3-pointers this season

37%
10,5
Points made: 10,5
Accuracy: 37,3%
Place in standings: 1
Record max: 19
Record min: 4
Most made 3FGs: Sasu Salin

He averaged a career-high in scoring (12.9 PPG), rebounding (2.4 RPG), and efficiency (10.6 EFF). On top of that, he became the leader in 3-pointers made in BCL history, converting 62 out 136 attempts from deep (45.6%).

But most importantly, Salin was one of the key pieces in Tenerife's championship run in BCL. However, the Finnish guard is already thinking about next year.

"In this kind of organization like Tenerife, automatically, you think about the next championship," Salin told Cesare Milanti from Overtime Basket. "They've been showing for six years now that they belong in the Final Four or fighting for the BCL title."

"You don't need to talk about it anymore. We enjoyed the moment when we won it, but we're aware that we have to do it again. It was great what Burgos did last year, winning it twice in a row.

Tenerife also wants to join the list and win it back-to-back. Talking about my contract, I'm confident here, and I've really enjoyed my time in Tenerife. It has been a really easy place to play and enjoy basketball," added Salin.

During the conversation with Overtime Basket, Salin also talked about his basketball idols, his experience playing with well-known NBA players, the upcoming EuroBasket 2022, and other topics.

Let's talk about your origins and your path. When I texted you about that Drazen Petrovic jersey, you told me, "The best". So was Mozart the one who made you fall in love with basketball?
When I was little, it wasn't so easy to connect. I wasn't actually following so much basketball when I was very young. My idols were Teemu Rannikko, who used to play in Italy, and Petteri Koponen, who played in the same club where I started to play basketball in Finland.

Sasu Salin

Sasu  Salin
Team: Lenovo Tenerife
Position: SG
Age: 31
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Birth place: Helsinki, Finland

Sometimes I watched some highlights on TV, but I couldn't say that Drazen Petrovic was my idol back then. But of course, I watched his style of play as I started to become older and watched more of his highlights when the internet was available. Amazing player.

After your beginnings in Espoo, you played with Union Olimpija for five years. How important was that stage of your career, and how inspiring has it been playing with NBA-caliber players like Danny Green, Davis Bertans, Aron Baynes, and others?
I think for me, it was the best thing that could have happened at that moment in my career. Being a 19-year-old, still very raw as a player, going to a place like Ljubljana where they like to practice and develop younger players.

I also had information from Teemu Rannikko, who used to play there before: he had nothing but good things to say about the city, the team, and the organization. At that age, it was the best opportunity for me.

Playing with Baynes, Bertans, Green, and many other great players was very inspiring. Danny came during the lockout, Bertans didn't have a really big chance in Olimpija, but then he shined with Partizan and Baskonia, while Baynes was a big crazy guy. Just seeing great players around you motivates you to work harder and harder.

In Gran Canaria, you played with Pangos and Kuric in a run and gun team under Aito Garcia: do you think it also helped you get more confidence in shooting 3-pointers?
Aito's system was very simple. We had a couple of horns and diamonds to start the offense, with some options, of course, but he wanted us to be very free.

He always used to say: 'What you are good at, do it on the court.'

I've always been a shooter, so they encouraged me to shoot even more. But generally, nobody has ever told me not to shoot. Kevin Pangos and Kyle Kuric fit very well in that system, and Casimiro played with Kuric as well. They're great players.

Credit FIBA

What was it like to share the court with guys like Teemu Rannikko, Koponen, or Mottola, who made history for your country basketball-wise?
I was always dreaming about playing for the National team. Even with Petteri, I played with him during one year in Finland, in Honka, before he left for Virtus Bologna.

With him, I had a little relationship even before the National team. Teemo and Mottola were bigger stars then, and I got the opportunity to play with them. Amazing guys, I really had fun with them and learned so much from their experience.

When I was younger, I always said that I would have liked to play in Italy one day. I would never say no. Actually, when I was considering the first place where I would play abroad, the choice would have been made among three teams: Union Olimpija, Skyliners Frankfurt, and Virtus Bologna.

But at that time, it happened that I went to Ljubljana: happy about that, I can't say anything bad about that experience.

But if the opportunity comes, why not? Italy is a great country to play in, I've met a lot of Italian teams in BCL, EuroCup, and EuroLeague. Why not.

One year in Slovenia, two in Malaga, and now three in Tenerife: do you see Shermadini more than your wife? How important are his and Marcelinho's contributions and experience to the team's successes?
Luckily I don't see Shermadini as more as my wife, but it's close! (laughs) It's been funny with him. In my first year out of Finland, I met Gio, and now we've been playing for many years together.

He's a great player, a great guy who makes basketball easier for his teammates. I think what has been built around Gio and Marcelinho here in Tenerife makes it easier for the others to play the game and be themselves on the court.

Aniano Cabrera, our GM, has been doing a really good job.

Credit FIBA

Speaking of Finland and basketball, your country has had a great season so far. You and Sulejmanovic won the BCL, Elias Valtonen was the runner-up with Manresa, Tuomas Iisalo was COY with Bonn in Germany, and Mikael Jantunen was named 6MOY in Belgium.
It's very nice to see that guys are doing an amazing job. Players like Valtonen and Jantunen are already showing their potential even though they are in the early stages of their careers.

Talking about Valtonen, I think it's amazing that he went from the second division in Germany all the way to the ACB and the BCL Final Four with Manresa. He was prepared for this, he's doing an amazing job.

The fact that Pedro Martinez is allowing him to play it's great for him. I'm already an old fart, so it's nice to see young guys coming up. We have a very bright future ahead of us with the National team.

Meanwhile, Iisalo winning Coach of the Year in Germany is a huge and well-deserved merit. Bonn has an amazing style, Tuomas already did a great job with Crailsheim Merlins, and he was close to becoming head coach of Zalgiris Kaunas.

He has a lot of good things coming ahead of him, just like Lassi Tuovi in Strasbourg. We have very good coaches and players coming, nothing but good for the National team.

Are you guys preparing for the two upcoming matches against Sweden and Croatia?
We start practicing around the end of June. Once a year, coaches visit all the guys who are playing outside of Finland, and we chat, staying in touch. We have had the same system in the National team for many years, so it's easy to adapt quickly to the playing style.

You will have a tough group in EuroBasket 2022, facing Serbia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Israel, and the Netherlands. What do you expect from this campaign?
It's a tough group, but we have a really good chance to advance to the next round. We've been showing in the previous windows that we can play against great teams. Just like Slovenia: they were missing Doncic, but we didn't have Markannen then.

We have potential, and if we figure out everything at the right time, we have a good chance to go even further than ever before.

Credit FIBA

During this year, you became the leader in the history of the BCL in made 3-pointers, and you have been the 5th best player in 3PT% in this year's BCL. Do you think you deserve more credit for your shooter status?
I think anyone who's playing needs confidence. Of course, as a shooter, you have to be prepared for the shot you're taking: you have to practice a lot.

But confidence is so much about it: you have better chances of making that shot if you're confident. Confidence is just behind the practice. And yeah, I know I'm a pretty good shooter. This year we've been playing very well as a team, and my shooting has been helping it a lot.

Both in BCL and ACB, I've proven that I'm pretty good at it. I don't mind if people don't consider or put me on the list of their best shooters. I let the numbers speak for themselves: I know what I'm capable of doing, and I'm happy if somebody mentions or notices it, but it's a tough world where you have so many good players.

Maybe I'm not the flashiest guy with amazing spin moves before the shot: I don't do crazy stuff; I just take my shots and usually make them. I'm always ready to score some baskets.

In 2021 you renewed your contract with Tenerife until 2023, so you will enter your last year with them. Where do you see yourself in the future? Is the 3rd BCL the goal of the organization?
In this kind of organization like Tenerife, automatically, you think about the next championship. They've been showing it for six years now that they really belong in the Final Four or fight for the BCL title.

You don't need to talk about it anymore. We enjoyed the moment when we won it, but we're aware that we have to do it again. It was great what Burgos did last year, winning it twice in a row.

Tenerife also wants to join the list and win it back-to-back. Talking about my contract, I'm confident here, and I've really enjoyed my time in Tenerife. It has been a really easy place to play and enjoy basketball.

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Sasu Salin

Sasu  Salin
Sasu  Salin
MIN: 26.93
PTS: 12.94 (51.11%)
REB: 2.39
As: 1.56
ST: 0.89
BL: 0
TO: 0.78
GM: 18