Recovering Confidence

Anas Mahmoud blocked the shot attempt of Boston College's Garland Owens during second half play.

Anas Mahmoud blocked the shot attempt of Boston College’s Garland Owens during second half play.

Anas Mahmoud is a 7-foot-0 sophomore center for the University of Louisville. The native of Cairo, Egypt, scored a career-high 15 points in a January win at Georgia Tech. He suffered a severely sprained ankle in practice on February 18 and will most likely miss the rest of this season. The Cards final three games are at No. 12 Miami on Saturday, at home against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, March 1, and at No. 3 Virginia on Saturday, March 5.

How serious were you about basketball before you came to the United States?
I played until I was about 14 or 15 years old and it was just a hobby. I loved basketball, but I never thought that I could play at a high level. I was just playing for a junior team and in clubs in Egypt. When I went to the national team and we played in tournaments and went to Africa, I saw that I could actually compete with people overseas. We played in the World Cup, and I played against American players. Then I played for the Senior National Team, and I was the youngest on the team. I had a really good championship.

How much of a culture shock is it when you move from Egypt to Florida?
If you compare Egypt and Florida, it’s completely different. Just culture-wise, morals and ethics are completely different. Religion is completely different, and that makes a big part of it.

Are you pretty religious?
Not really, but still when you surround yourself with more Muslim people, they act differently than Christians. I traveled a lot when I was young. I went to Europe. I went to Asia. I went to multiple different places, and that’s why I didn’t really have that culture shock that people thought I would have.

How many languages do you speak?
Four: French, English, Arabic and German.

What is your major?
Now, I’m in marketing.

What do you want to do after basketball?
I always wanted to be an engineer, but when I weighed it – what do I want to do the most? – I thought about being a basketball player, and that’s what I want to do. That’s why I changed my major and went to business. I thought about my career, what I want to do with basketball and marketing.

Have you ruled out playing in the final game of this season?
I don’t know. It is a possibility, but my ankle is still pretty swollen and I have a lot of colors, red and black.

How does this ankle injury compare to the one that cost you three games in December?
It felt around the same, but it’s a lot worse.

How much confidence have you gained from what you’ve done this season?
I think it all started after Georgia Tech. I felt really good after that game. I got more confidence, and my teammates got more confidence to throw me the ball in the post. Since that game, I knew that I could give more to the team, and that’s what I was trying to do for the rest of the season.

How many NBA players have come from Egypt?
I don’t know any. Maybe there was one back in the old days, but I’ve never heard of him. VT