OPS’ Josué Sédjro spoke with 2005′ born Mathias M’Madi at the end of the 2023 Global JAM Event. M’Madi had a breakout performance at the FIBA U19 World Cup for Team Madagascar and continued his great summer by performing for Team BAL during Global JAM. He talks about his team performance, his family dynamic, madagascan dishes and hidden talents. Madi will be performing for L’Élan Chalon in Betclic Elite (French Pro A) for the 2023-24 season.

OPS: How would your friends describe your personality?

MM: They would describe me as funny, trustworthy and unselfish. I am convinced they would also add laid-back.

OPS: I was doing some research ahead of our chat and I believe you have 1 older and 1 younger sister. What are the age differences between you three and tell me about the family dynamic amongst you.

MM: My older sister is 22 years old and my younger sister is 9 years old. We don’t necessarily have said-traditions or specific memories growing together. We are quite close and get along great. It’s a bit harder now because we aren’t together that often with the two oldest of us being away from home so much. Nonetheless, every time that we spend time together, the chemistry is great.

OPS: You grew up in France, but both your parents are of Madagascan descent. Are there dishes, habits or cultural principles they’ve ingrained in you over the years?

MM: Nothing in particular necessarily, although I would say my mother cooked great Madagascan dishes for us growing up such as ravitoto (Casava leaves & Pork) et romazava (multiple meats stew & greens). I very much enjoy those two.

OPS: Speaking of which, I was told you are quite a good cook and barber. What is your favourite dish to make and the best (hair)cut you can execute?

MM: My favourite meal to make is ravitoto. In regards to haircuts, I can pretty much do everything except heavy artwork. 

OPS: You started playing basketball when you were 4 years old with ASPTT Toulon. What are your memories of that 1st experience with a basketball?

MM: I remember this story. It was my first training sessions with the team. A coach told me to start dribbling with my left hand, but I couldn’t tell my left from my right hand at the time (being so young). I started to cry because I was afraid to make a mistake (laughs). 

OPS: It seems like your father had a decisive impact on your development. Do you remember seeing him play? How did he influence you?

MM: I didn’t see him play in Madagascar because he was already in France at the time. Every day that I didn’t have a practice and sometimes even on practice days, he trained me. Dribbling, shooting (and all aspects of the game).

OPS: How would you describe your style of play in your own words?

MM: I saw I am a slasher with the ability to both shoot and get into the teeth of the defence. I’m also a good defender.

OPS: Team Madagascar competed at the FIBA U19 World Cup for the first time in its history. Let’s go back a year earlier though. When I mention to you the semi-final game of 2022 Africa U18 Championships to qualify for the WC (an 84-81 victory for Team Madagascar over Team Mali), what are the emotions and words that come to your mind?

MM: We were so happy. (What comes to mind is) the joy, the laughs, even crying of joy (laughs). Although we lost the final afterwards (51-84 loss to Team Egypt), we celebrated our accomplishment in a nice restaurant afterwards. It was a great time being together. We felt the support of the entire country during the competition. It was the first time that our team qualified for a World Cup tournament at either the youth or senior level.

OPS: How did the first contact with the Madagascan federation take place?

MM: A member contacted me on Instagram and the adventure began there.

OPS: The NBA is obviously the final objective. Meanwhile, are you interested by the NCAA College route?

MM: I am indeed interested and I have received some offers. Ideally, I’m looking for a program that could help me reach the NBA in 2 years. Nonetheless, I’m going to take the time to consider everything prior to making a decision

OPS: What is your favourite football (soccer) club?

MM: Olympique de Marseilles

OPS: Last question : Lebron or Jordan?

MM: Jordan

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