By Dimitris Kontos
|Not only messing with opponents' baskets: Tomás Satoransky|
His terrorised opponents would have a hard time believing it, but Czech Republic international Tomas Satoransky is one of the funniest guys in European basketball.
At 2.01m tall, the 21-year-old is an unconventional point guard, but at the same time a quite typical Czech, in that he appreciates a refined brand of humour, with a touch of undermining irony.
Satoransky delivers a witty line, always with a dose of mischief, just like a naughty child, with the same ease he can come up with a seemingly impossible assist through traffic or slice up the opposing defence to finish with one of his spectacular dunks.
The Prague-born playmaker would not be playing basketball if it was not enormous fun for him, and he is never having more fun than when he plays for the national team.
"Well, you know, we got two players [on the Czech Republic squad] Jirka (Jiri Welsch) and Lubo (Lubos Barton) who are... older, so we, the younger guys, are always messing with them," he told FIBAEurope.com wearing one of his trademark mischievous grins.
"And I am leading it!"
"I enjoy every minute of it, but you know, they also pay us back for it..."
"There is a big difference between playing with international team-mates (at a club) and playing with the guys from your own country.
"You share the same language, the same culture and it's like meeting old friends.
"You can joke with them outside the court more, you know them for a long time.
"I really had a lot of fun in the summer."
CZECH OUT THE EUROBASKET
|From Partizan Belgrade to the NBA and now back to the national team? Jan Vesely would certainly boost the Czechs' chances at EuroBasket 2013|
In last summer's Qualification Round, Satoransky led the Czechs in assists and steals and also contributed 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 30.3 minutes on the court on average, during their eight games in Group F.
"I really enjoyed it, although I did not rest so much," he laughs.
"I had much more responsibility than I was used to have in a long time, it was a great experience.
"I got to play with all those good Czech players and we hope that Jan Vesely is also going to join us in the summer."
The Czechs clinched a berth at EuroBasket 2013 and Satoransky cannot wait to get on the plane to Slovenia.
"I don't know what a EuroBasket is like, I was at the U16, U18 and U20 European Championships but of course it is nothing like this, I am really looking forward to my first experience," he admitted.
"The Czech Republic has not played in a big tournament for many years, so we are very excited to play there."
The Czechs were drawn into Group C and will go up against reigning European champions Spain, hosts Slovenia, their neighbours Poland, Croatia and Georgia.
"It's really, really difficult group," is the point guard's assessment.
"All these teams have good experience of big tournaments, but we can't choose which group we play in.
"If we want to go to the next round we have to play at least three good games to make some surprises, but I think we are going to be ready to do it."
THE LEADER OF SEVILLE
|Leading the pack at Cajasol Sevilla suits Satoransky better than a possible NBA adventure right now|
Before the start of the current season Cajasol Sevilla underwent many personnel changes and the club, as well as new coach Aito Garcia Reneses, who is renowned for his work with young players, sent a clear message to Satoransky.
They wanted him to step up and turn into the leader of a youthful team.
Many were quick to condemn this as a failed experiment when the Andalucians started the season disappointingly, registering nine defeats in their first ten games in the Spanish Liga Endesa.
But Reneses never lost trust in the 21-year-old Czech and the game plan.
Sevilla went on to win six of their following nine games, including big away victories at Uxue Bilbao and Unicaja Malaga.
Satoransky leads the team in minutes played (30), scoring (11.9 ppg), assists (4.2apg), steals (3.1 spg) and averages 3.5 rebounds per game.
He joined Sevilla from USK Prague in 2009 and in his fourth season at the club, he has risen to the challenge and enjoys being there and playing in this league.
"At the beginning I didn't see it this way, because I came here and everything just happened so fast," the playmaker admitted.
"But, after a while, I realised this is a great opportunity.
"You play against big teams every day, it's not like in other leagues, like I don't know, Greece for example, where you play big teams maybe three times a year.
"[In the ACB] In every game you have to make big decisions, it is the best for any basketball player really."
As one would expect, another reason why Satoransky is happy where he is, is because he can be himself and have fun.
The day after last June's NBA draft, when the Washington Wizards selected Satoransky with the 32nd overall pick, Seville daily 'El Diario de Sevilla' inquired whether he was considering splitting town and making the jump to the NBA.
"Of course I am staying in Sevilla," came the immediate categorical reply.
"Well ok, not really, I am actually going to Madrid," he then teased the fans immediately.