Enzo “ESAV15” Savoca – Basketball Freestyle Prodigy
Enzo “ESAV15” Savoca – Basketball Freestyle Prodigy
Enzo “ESAV15” Savoca hasn’t even been freestyling for a year and yet he’s managed to win the 2012 Snake Basketball Freestyle Contest against some highly skilled competitors. To get to that level of basketball freestyle ability in such a short period of time is truly remarkable. Here’s more about who ESAV15 is and his fast ride to the top.
First of all congrats for winning the 2012 Snake Basketball Freestyle Contest!
So for starters tell everyone a little about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get your nickname?
Before I start answering let me congratulate with the other contestants for the overall level of the contest (some vids were just awesome!) and let me thank everyone who supported me:
And let me say one more thing just to clear things up: I won this contest and this is obviously an unbelievable honor for me, but does that make me the best freestyler out of the bunch? I don’t think so. I gotta give props to both AK and Smallone in particular, they perform at a way higher level than mine technically. People just happened to like my video a little bit better than the others, and that’s it.
With that being said, here I am: I’m Vincenzo Savoca, (but everybody has been calling me Enzo since I was a kid it is quicker…!), 29 years old medical doctor from Enna, a little city right on top of a mountain in the center of Sicily. I was into martial arts until I “discovered” basketball, at the age of 17, watching “Slam Dunk”, the anime from the manga by T. Inoue and started playing the game. And my passion for basketball and anything related to this beautiful sport grew bigger and bigger with time. You can learn more about my personal story watching the vids on my YouTube channel. I just want you to know that I’ve been through some serious injuries in my career as a player, resulting in doctors telling me I had to stop playing for good. I never stopped believing I could come back though, and worked hard to get on the court again. If you got a couple of minutes, check this:
I really hope this can motivate people who are dealing with some serious issues right now: never lose hope and always be willing to fight!
How long have you been freestyling?
I’ve been freestyling since the first days of March 2012, so it’s about 10 months now.
How did you first discover freestyling? Why did you decide to start freestyling?
I was watching vids on YouTube when I came across a ViruKsen video, this one:
At that time, I knew very little about basketball freestyle, but I was just blown away by what those guys where doing with the basketball! It was so cool watching Lee, Kamikaze and Kyame doing their thing that I was like “Wow! How do they do that? I have to try to do something like that, it looks just too good!”… So basically I typed “basketball freestyle tutorials” on my YouTube search bar…and Snake, if you do that right now, you should see a very familiar face on the screen ahah! Of course I ended up watching every single video from both Snake’s and VK’s channels…and by the time I finished watching I knew I wanted to be part of that world. So I dropped my debut vid, Matrix inspired, and then made a collab vid with Jordan “JKills” Kilganon (one of the very best highflyers in the world). Thanks to those vid they invited me to the international freestyle battle @ Urban Village, in Padua on last November.
How much do you practice?
Not as much as I want, unfortunately. First of all I have to play it smart, because the cartilage of my right knee is still messed up or at least not what it used to be and it bothers me from time to time, mostly if I work out hard on consecutive days. My daily job is quite time and energy demanding too, as I usually work at the hospital for an average of 9 to 10 hours a day. So I usually practice 3 x week, 2 hours – 2 hours and a half per session, but in general I just go to the court (or to the park) whenever I can, and my passion for freestyle and basketball drives me, it makes me wake up at 5:30 in the morning or go to bed late in the night just to get the chance to practice. And when I’m not practicing (or working-studying) I’m always thinking about new moves and combos, so when I get to the court I can be very efficient and don’t “waste time” thinking about what to do, as I already visualized that dozens of times. In a certain way, if you consider this part of practicing, I practice all the time!
Who have been your biggest influences as a freestyler?
I consider 3 persons as the main reason I started freestyling, and thus they are my biggest influence. Their names? Lee, Kamikaze and Snake. Without you guys, I would’ve never started in first place. And more: you really are a great source of inspiration. I like every single aspect of your styles, and besides the big moves (that are of course big time crowd pleasers by themselves) I just love how you are able to enhance the greatness hidden into the little details. That what make you guys special, and that is what I look for when I watch to other freestylers.
How do you come up with moves and ideas for freestyle?
I really think I owe a lot to my basketball and martial arts foundations. I mean, beside of the “punches” and “kicks”, which obviously are easy recognizable as “karate moves”, there are a lot of “stances” and subtle movements that are taken right from my karate background. On top of that, I draw inspiration from a lot of freestylers: of course the three legends I already talked about, Japanese freestylers, the Russian scene (which I think is really and quickly developing into a very fascinating reality). In general I always try to get some ideas from everything I see, then I just add to it my personal touch and here you have a new move.
Tell us a little bit about your winning video. What all went into making it? How did you come up with the moves?
First of all I originally meant to record a vid about “how we do it in Enna”, featuring the song I actually included in the final cut and celebrating my birth city. When I knew about the contest, I changed my plan: it was impossible for me to record in Enna (I work in Trieste, a city near the north east border with Slovenia), but I decided to use that song by Steno no matter what, as I consider music as one of the key part to make a good and entertaining video. The lyrics in Italian, for those who don’t speak Italian, are very fitting to the spirit of freestyle I think: “small things makes a big difference, those small things that help us to keep our heads up, such as love, respect, tolerance –nobody is perfect-…and it doesn’t matter only what you do, but how you do it, and I give my heart 100%”. I just wanted to spread that positive energy with my vid, and thus the choice for the setting (the beautiful Public Garden in Trieste).
I have to give my man AK big props again now. It was watching his vid that I realized I had to push it to the limit if I wanted to have just a chance to compete. Ak and me share some similar story (he dealt with some serious injury too, and he is an old man just like me ahah!) and we really became good friends during this competition, and I look at him as one of the main reasons of the success of the video. So my victory is his victory a bit, too.
I’m happy with the final outcome of the recording and editing process, but I have to say this is not 100% what I meant to do: I had to give other events of my life a priority over the video, as my grandfather passed away on Dec 13th and of course freestyle took the backseat. I didn’t tell both Snake and Badda about it: I knew that they could chose for the best no matter what, but I just didn’t want to put them in awkward situations.
December is a tough month for my family: during the last 4 years we lost my other grandpa and my uncle in the month of December too. So Christmas time is always bittersweet for us. I’m happy my victory gave my family a chance to smile. My victory is dedicated to them, as well as to those who are with us no more.
Why do you continue to freestyle? What do you feel you get out of it?
One word: passion. I really love it. And what I get out of it are hours of pure fun and the chance to know (and meet in person as it happened last November in Padua) a whole lot of great persons.
Do you have any major goals in freestyling?
Just become the best that I can be. I want to improve my speed and power while creating new moves and original combos. Maybe introduce some multiball elements and, finally, learn some basic spin tricks!!! (you even made a tutorial on how to spin the ball on the finger, so I really have no excuses now ahah!)
What’s your favorite freestyle moment so far?
Without any doubt when Kamikaze and Ishimos answered to me with a personal message on Facebook!
Seriously, it was such a fast ride from the beginning that I really find myself in trouble picking a single moment: from chatting with legends online to winning this contest through taking part to my first international battle in Padua…
If I am forced to pick, I’d pick 2 though: Troy “Myth” Dean asking me to join Daze Entertainment Basketball as an official international member. It was unbelievable to me, as I found myself thinking: “I started watching Snake’s tutorials, and now just 10 months after we are teammates!”. Second one is Lee aka 6th Sense from X-Ball inc. and SREAM voting for my vid and wanting to send me one of his Lifetime balls as a present. I really am living the dream of all the beginners out there.
Who are some of your favorite freestylers right now? All time?
I got a lot of favourites! In no particular order Lee, Snake, Kamikaze, Ishimos, Bug, Smaill, Fire, Tam. All of the elite freestylers I met in Padua: 4Eyed, Brisco, Storm, Nitro. I like the Italian scene also: Badda is leading the way, and Ottyteo and Smallone are great talents indeed. I really love Urban tricks crew too (Fume, Slowmotion, Showtime).
But also Spinboy, Kyame, Styla, Movemasta, Nock, RyoGo, LilG, EverFree…the more I think, the more names come to my mind!
Do you have any favorite freestyle videos?
A lot too LOL! Anything in your channel (from the old ones as Spontaneous Combustion to the recent ones as Rapidfire to the tutorials) and VK’s. A vid form my man Nitro “freestyle is everything”, first time I saw him, just DOPE. The vid Fire submitted for Slamdunk.RU 2011 online contest. MoveMasta’s “Just feel it”. The latest by Smaill. And a bunch of live events-battles vid. I actually download most of the vids I see and study them, actually learning a lot.
Do you have any advice for other freestylers?
Be yourself, and thus unique. Don’t try too hard to be the next someone, be the first you. It is ok to draw inspiration from others, everybody does that, even subconsciously. Just don’t miss the chance to express what you have inside through freestyle: let the world know what you feel and have to say.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Again just thanks to everybody who supported me, without you I wouldn’t be answering these questions today.
It’s going to be exciting to see how ESAV15 develops as a freestyler over the years. His unique approach and passion for basketball freestyle, not to mention has rapid improvement, can only mean great things for him in the future.