Haitian heritage, chip on shoulder carry Brescia's Chery to next level

Nov 16, 2020 by David Hein, Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Haitian heritage, chip on shoulder carry Brescia's Chery to next level

Germani Brescia has struggled to get victories this season in the 7DAYS EuroCup, but Kenny Chery sees the positives. The Canadian knows every loss is a chance to learn and get better. That mentality comes from his hard-working Haitian heritage, and teaming it with a chip on his shoulder has carried the guard up the ranks in Europe.

Chery has collected 13.8 points a game in his second season in the EuroCup while also picking up 2.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists. The 28-year-old holds a solid 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and has converted 22-of-24 free throws for an impressive 91.7%. But his index rating has suffered due to a lackluster 24.3% shooting (9-of-37) on three-pointers. While those numbers do have meaning, the stat Chery cares most about is 1-5, as in Brescia's record in Group B.

"We have a great group of guys here and we are continuing to grow every day."

"I wouldn't say I had a great start, there is always room for improvement. I'm pushing myself everyday out of my comfort zone to be better. I'm all about the team. If the team is not where it needs to be, that just means I personally have to find ways to get us on track and do more on and off the court. The great thing about defeat, is that you learn. The victories will come. We have a great group of guys here and we are continuing to grow every day," Chery said.

This is the second go-around in the EuroCup for the 1.80-meter guard after he averaged 15.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists for a PIR of 14.6 in eight games last season for Nanterre 92. And Chery just appreciates being in a competition like the EuroCup.

"The opportunity to play against high level players is amazing," he said. "The traveling, the quick turnarounds with domestic league and EuroCup is a challenge, but that's the beauty of the competition: to make quick adjustments, also to play against different styles of play."

Chery hails from Montreal, Canada and as the son of Haitian parents speaks the French-based creole language he used growing up in the mix of African, French and Caribbean roots.

"As a people, we are really proud. I grew up in that environment while being in Montreal, just appreciating my roots, our culture, and what we as a country had to go through as people. I think that shaped me into the person I am today: just understanding that nothing comes easy in life; you have to work; and never giving up is something we live by," Chery said.

A young Chery got his work ethic from his mother, who he watched work hard around the house and "made me want to work hard."

His older brother was his sports role model. They would play all kinds of sports: hockey, soccer, baseball and basketball. And Chery said when he had to pick one, he chose basketball because his brother and guys from his neighborhood played the game on their high school team.

Another major factor in Chery's basketball life were the summers he spent visiting his cousin in New York and playing pick-up games on the playgrounds of Brooklyn.

"Going to New York in the summers is what brought out the competitive nature in me and the I-hate-losing mentality," he said. "That definitely helped me understand early that size don't matter. Just have the heart and compete, and the rest will take care of itself. New York streetball is a different beast, honestly, and being able to hold my own there gave me the confidence that I could play anywhere."

Issues with high school courses in Canada being properly credited in the United States ended up costing Chery a chance to attend a regular NCAA college initially. He ended up going to a junior college, State Fair Community College in Missouri, where he would become one of the best players in the country at that level.

"Just have the heart and compete, and the rest will take care of itself."

"Going to junior college was one of the best things to happen during my basketball journey because it pushed me to prove myself even more, show that I could play at a high level. And just the fact that I knew I had to prove myself again, it was just more wood into the fire for me and I just kept this chip on my shoulder to improve every day and to make my mark," he said.

Chery's backcourt running mate for his second season at State Fair was Kevin Punter, who now plays at Turkish Airlines EuroLeague club AX Armani Exchange Milan. Chery hasn't reached the EuroLeague just yet. After going from State Fair to Baylor, he started his professional career with Alba Fehervar in Hungary. He spent two seasons in Spain with Betis Sevilla and Gipuzkoa and then moved to France to play with Boulazac before finally making his European debut in the EuroCup last season with Nanterre. He valued all of those stops along the way.

"During those years, I got the chance to play against incredible players, especially my two years in Spain. Playing against high-level players, former NBA players, I got the chance to learn and take my game to new heights. The opportunity was a blessing for me not just to improve but to see how those guys got to where they were," he said.

As always, Chery saw them as learning experiences, just like the losses with Brescia.