Inside the Game with Georgi Funtarov

As one of the Aggies’ top recruits this season, freshman Georgi Funtarov has been given quite a lot of responsibility. Averaging 24 minutes per game, 8.4 points per game and leading the team with 4.6 rebounds per game, Funtarov has delivered for UC Davis this season.

Due to time conflict and the Aggies’ trip to Hawaii for a road game, assistant director Eric Bankston asked the questions for The Aggie.

How has the experience been transitioning to college life?
In the beginning it was really different. I went to high school here in America, but college is totally different. Classes are different, it is lectures and school is a little different. Basketball-wise, the game is faster and more athletic. It took me awhile but now I feel more adjusted and comfortable.

What are the differences between the college game and the high school game?
In high school, you might have two or three guys who might be D-1 prospects. I went to prep school, we had six or seven. But in college, you have all 12 guys — everyone is on a high level and can play fast. Everyone has game. But as a freshman, I feel like I have adjusted pretty [well].

How have you managed to balance school work and athletics?
It’s probably one of the areas I struggled the most to balance everything, especially in a school like UC Davis, school is not easy. You have to be able to do your homework on the plane or on the road and still focus on the game. It is something that I have to work on, but I think I will be doing better.

What are your pre-game routines, if you have any.
It is definitely different depending [on] if you are home or away. At home, you have to deal more with school. You have to go to classes and think about that. Once you go to pre-game meal, which you have right before the game, you only think about the game. [You have to] read [scouting reports] and making sure you remember everything.

When you are away, it is a little different. You don’t necessarily need to do homework if you don’t want to. You [get] to mainly focus on the game, so you have more time to prepare for the game.

What is your favorite pre-game snack? Why?
Not necessarily, I know that as a team we usually eat a lot of pasta and stuff like that to give us carbs, so we can have energy for the game. But me personally, nothing special.

Do you manage to regularly interact with people who are not on the basketball team or part of UC Davis athletics?
Yeah, definitely. Especially when I get to go to class, it’s pretty much like a regular day, we’re regular students, like everyone else. In class you get to see your friends and talk to the people you sit next to. It’s a regular day for us on [home] game days too.

Have there been any valuable lessons which you have gained from playing in Bulgaria’s U-16 and U-18 teams? Has playing internationally helped you prepare for Jim Les’ demands of you on the basketball court?
When I was on the national team I had the chance to play against a lot of older guys. So for me that was a good experience. The competition was really competitive and I got to learn how to play physically with the older guys who were stronger and bigger than me. So it was definitely a good experience.

What is the difference between the college game and the international game?
When you play for the national team there is a [larger] factor of pride. You want to [play] for your country and not yourself. You want to show that you can play, but it is more [about] winning for your country and putting your country on the map.

Heading forward, what are your goals for the rest of the season and next year?
My main personal goal is to get as good as I can and to reach my highest ceiling. [My goal] is to be the best player I can be. My other goal is to win as many championships as I can here. When next season comes, I want to get as many wins as I can and get UC Davis on the map. I want people to know who UC Davis is and respect us every time.

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