CanCon

Kevin Pangos: Canadian EuroLeague star reveals the two things that kept basketball desire burning

Kevin Pangos is one of Canada's best playing overseas right now.

The 28-year-old just wrapped up a career year for Zenit Saint Petersburg - the Russian superpower that also competes in the EuroLeague. Pangos put up averages of 16.8 points and 8.4 assists per 36 minutes while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 40.7 from 3-point range in 35 EuroLeague games this season.

On Wednesday, Pangos came up with an incredible performance in Game 1 of the EuroLeague best-of-five quarterfinals playoffs series against Barcelona. The Canuck finished with 19 points and nine assists, going 7-for-9 from the field, including nailing the game-winning buckets to secure a 76-74 win for Zenit.

After the season he's had, there's no doubt that Pangos should be in consideration as one of the 12 players selected by head coach Nick Nurse to play for Team Canada this summer.

Basketball turned out to be the right choice for Pangos. Growing up in Holland Landing, Ontario, like many Canadians, Pangos was surrounded by the nation's true passion, hockey.

But two things kept Pangos' basketball desire alive: The Toronto Raptors and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.

"I went to watch the Raptors a bunch of times," Pangos told EuroLeague.net. "It was pretty special being in that environment.

"There was one time I got one of the players' practice jersey. Eric Montross. He wasn't even a star and it was a triple XL so it still doesn't fit me to this day, but it was amazing that we had it. I've still got it in my closet at home! Having the Raptors there right down the road gave you something to dream about.

"Having Steve Nash do what he was doing on a global stage, being from Canada, you saw it like, 'It is possible.'

"It gave you something that you could dream towards. So that was awesome, and having the Raptors as well, you could watch some games and see what a high level it was. Those two things were definitely a big influence for myself and a lot of Canadians growing up."

While Nash may have started out as an idol to Pangos, he now considers the Hall of Famer a friend.

"I consider Steve a friend of mine now," Pangos continued. "He's been great throughout my career, being super supportive.

"I met him once at national team camp and from that day forward we built a relationship. He's been nothing but supportive. It's been incredible. I didn't expect much at first because he's obviously Steve Nash, he's got his own life, his own things to do, but he checks in from time-to-time and he's been a great friend up until this day.

"I've worked out with him a couple of times and he's shared a bunch of his knowledge. So, incredible guy, incredible athlete. He's special, for sure."

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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