BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
By Jeff Taylor
|Not many point guards can dunk the way the high-flying Tomas Satoransky does - The 1.99m tall Czech features regularly in the Spanish league's highlight videos|
Tomas Satoransky has a golden opportunity right now to develop into a solid player at Cajasol Sevilla under a respected coach, Joan Plaza.
Everyone back home in the Czech Republic is hoping he'll take advantage.
Other young Czechs have blossomed into stars outside of the country over the years, with Jan Vesely the latest to do so at Partizan Belgrade.
Vesely, 21, was the 2010 European Young Player of the Year and is embarking on an NBA career with the Washington Wizards.
On Saturday night, Satoransky was in Plaza's starting line-up and sparked Cajasol as they played at Valencia Basket.
The 1.99m playmaker, who only turned 20 on 30th October, finished with nine important points in 22 minutes and 36 seconds and helped Cajasol win, 84-80.
He has an extremely bright future.
"It's a great experience in Spain," he said to Basketball World News.
"I hadn't expected to get involved as quickly as I have.
"This is one of the best leagues in Europe."
Satoransky is learning all the time, whether he is among the five players on the court and looking over at his coach to get instructions, or sitting next to a teammate and hearing words of advice during a timeout.
"The biggest challenge for me was that when I came here," he said, "I played the point guard position.
"I wanted to improve in that, against these small Spanish guards.
"I had to adjust to the intensity, and the defense - that was a challenge.
"You just have to keep working and improving every day."
Plaza, once voted Coach of the Year in Spain when he was in charge of Real Madrid, clearly has a lot of faith in his player.
He had him on the court at Valencia when the game hung in the balance on Saturday night, in the last minute.
The hosts had just taken a 78-77 lead following a basket by Serhiy Lishchuk, Valencia's Ukraine national team center.
Lishchuk then fouled Satoransky at the other end and the young Czech went to the free-throw line and converted both opportunities to put his team back in front to stay.
"Tough win," Satoransky said.
"We'd always played here and been able to tie the games, but not win so we're happy."
Satoransky is hoping to carry a great season into next summer and play for the Czech Republic.
The Czechs will face Turkey, Italy, Belarus and Portugal in their qualifying campaign for EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia.
The last time the Czechs played in the Final Round was in 2007, when the tournament was staged in Spain.
"For sure, we know the group for the qualification for the next EuroBasket and it's a pretty tough group, but if can get all the players together for Czech basketball, I think we'll have a chance. So I hope everyone will be there."
Satoransky wants to be like some of his heroes and make sure Czech basketball remains on the map.
"For sure, we have a couple of guys that were in the NBA, Jiri Zidek and Jiri Welsch," he said.
"There is also one right now, Vesely.
"I think we have some history but I think we have to improve.
"We have good players in places like Spain and Serbia, but we need to have a good national team, too.
"It's not easy.
"I'm not saying we're going to win because it's not that easy.
"But, we have a hard group and that's good for our fans so they can see some strong teams there."