EuroCup Stepping Stones: Romain Sato

May 22, 2020 by Print
EuroCup Stepping Stones: Romain Sato

Romain Sato did many great things in his professional basketball career. Over the span of 11 years wearing the uniforms of five different European powerhouses, Sato became one of the first players ever to win both Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup titles, all while paving the way for players from the African continent. Born and raised in the Central African Republic, Sato landed in Europe via Xavier University in the United States. After starring in his European debut with second-division Italian side Sicc Jesi, where he averaged 25.5 points per game, and a brief end-of-season stint in the Spanish League with FC Barcelona, Sato made his EuroCup debut with Montepaschi Siena in 2006.

EuroCup debut experience

Sato wasted little time making an impression in his first EuroCup season, 2006-07. He had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in an opening-round win over ALBA and scored in double digits in his second game before dropping 30 points along with 7 rebounds and 3 steals in an overtime road win at Khimki Moscow Region. A new star was already born; Sato went on to average 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals during the regular season in helping Siena finish top of the group with an 8-2 record. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two-game total-points eighthfinals series victory over PAOK Thessaloniki before Siena was ousted in the quarterfinals by UNICS Kazan. Sato scored 9 or more points in 12 of his 14 appearances that season and finished the season with averages of 14.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals.

What came after

Siena debuted in the EuroLeague the next season and building on his experience from the EuroCup, he helped lead the team reach the 2008 Final Four. Sate started in 22 of 23 games that season and was a key cog in Siena's run. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and finished the season ranked fourth with 1.8 steals per game. At the Final Four, Siena lost 85-92 in the semis to Maccabi Tel Aviv with Sato posting 17 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists.

He spent six of the next seven seasons playing in the continent's premier competition. Known for his play and effort on both ends of the floor, Sato averaged double digits in points in each of his three EuroLeague seasons with Siena. He also helped the club rule domestically, winning four Italian League titles, and was the 2010 Italian League MVP. Sato joined Panathinaikos Athens ahead of the 2010-11 season, in which he went on to win the EuroLeague. He was one of the heroes of the 2011 championship game, a 78-70 victory over Maccabi in which he tallied 13 points while shooting 3-for-5 from three-point range and also grabbing 7 rebounds.

Sato played another season with the Greens under head coach Zeljko Obradovic and made another Final Four appearance before joining Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul for one season. In the summer of 2013, Sato signed with Valencia Basket and returned to EuroCup for the first time since his debut season. Sato immediately became one of the leaders, starting all 24 games on the way to lifting the 2014 EuroCup. Sato averaged 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds during that title-winning campaign. He spent another three seasons with Valencia and helped the team make another EuroCup Finals appearance and win a historic Spanish League championship in 2017. Overall, in just over one full decade, Sato made 219 appearances in the EuroLeague and EuroCup combined, winning both competitions along with more than a dozen domestic titles in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain, all as part of a memorable basketball journey that took off in the EuroCup.