BARCELONA (Afrobasket/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Sitapha Savané never envisioned himself playing professional sports while growing up in Senegal.
He’s been a pro in Spain since 2000-01, though, following his graduation from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
At his previous club, Gran Canaria, Savané played for six years.
Now the 34-year-old is on the books of Joventut Badalona.
“I fell in love with basketball and worked really hard and had the opportunities to have a long career,” Savané said to FIBA.com.
“I'm really thankful for it. I just want to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Attending the Naval Academy prepared him for the rigors of professional sports.
“That was probably one of the hardest things I've done in my life,” he said.
“It's a very tough institution to graduate from, but it definitely gives you the weapons for the rest of your life to face any adversity.”
He had adversity in his last season at Gran Canaria when suffering a serious Achilles injury.
“It was very tough,” Savané said.
“It's one of those injuries in basketball that you notice a lot coming back.
“It was a long process but thank God it's behind.”
Dakar-born Savané, who played for Senegal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan, called it a proud moment.
“In fact, I'm looking at the possibility of going back to the national team this summer for the African Championship,” he said.
“I'd definitely like to be able to help these younger guys that are coming up.
“As a veteran now, it's what I'm trying to do here at Joventut.
“Maybe you will see me back in the national team this summer.”
Senegal could have a good team.
“We've always had the potential, but we haven't been able to squeeze the most out of it,” Savané said.
“I think that some veteran leadership is one of those things that might be needed and you know, I'll always try to convince my friend Boniface (N'Dong), for both of us to give it a go and try to take these young guys a long, pass along a lot of value and experience that we have.”
In 2005, when Senegal finished runners-up to Angola at the Afrobasket, N’Dong was the tournament’s MVP.
There is also the temptation of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
“That's another thing I mentioned to Boniface (former Unicaja Malaga, Barcelona),” Savané said.
“It would be a great way for us to end our international careers, to help our team make it to the World Cup in Spain where we have spent most of our careers.”
N’Dong (2.13m), now with Galatasaray, and Savané (2.01m) play on the frontline, traditionally an area of strength for their national team.
“Generally, the point guard position has been a problem,” Savané said.
“Sadly, in Africa, most of what we have had is big men. We've had guards, but maybe not such a big supply.
“In today's game, it's extremely important to have guard play because now, basketball is guard oriented as opposed to the bigs.”