|Milos Teodosic cherishes the memory of the EuroBasket 2009 semi-final between Serbia and Slovenia|
FIBA Europe Player of the Year for 2010 Milos Teodosic is only 24 years old, yet he receives the praise that has been poured on him from all over Europe since winning the award with the detached calmness of a seasoned veteran.
It's not because he was not happy or grateful upon hearing the news.
"I'd like to thank from the heart everyone who voted for me," are his first words when we congratulate him on the award.
It's because -even at 24- he's been around long enough to understand what some players of his calibre realise only late in their career. Basketball is a team sport.
"A huge thanks to everyone, but really, this award belongs first and foremost to my teammates both in Olympiacos and the Serbian national team," Teodosic says with conviction.
Still, there must be some individual merit involved. After all, he is now in a company that includes some of the biggest names in European and world basketball.
Since the FIBA Europe Player of the Year award was established in 2005, the winners were Dirk Nowitzki the first year, Theo Papaloukas in 2006, Andrei Kirilenko in 2007 and Pau Gasol in 2008 and 2009. Teodosic is the youngest ever winner.
All of these great players were 26 or older when they received this prize.
"I didn't realise this was the case, I hadn't thought about it!" is his immediate reaction.
"It's quite special to achieve something that all these great basketball players have achieved and it makes the title an even bigger honour."
That's about as selfish as he can get.
When we put it to him that roughly one in six of the almost one hundred thousand fans from all Europe that took part in the vote chose him as their best player of 2010, he is quick to underplay it.
"Obviously a lot of Serbians must have voted," he laughs.
"I am only trying to play basketball and -I'm being totally honest- individual awards are not my priority.
|The 2010 European Player of the Year recognises Serbia and Olympiacos head coach Dusan Ivkovic has played an important role in his career|
"Can the teams I play for win trophies and medals? If yes, then I'd happily exchange all my individual awards for that.
"I don't know why I was the winner, but I know for sure I still have a long road ahead of me."
The sweet taste of 2009
Teodosic has been an international player since he was a child. By the time he was 20, he had already been crowned European Champion three-times. Is it hard to pick the best memory of his still young but so rewarding career?
"The semi-final against Slovenia in EuroBasket 2009 in Poland was a really special moment," he says immediately.
"That was the first big game of the new generation of Serbian basketball; it was the game that showed everyone that we were back (on the big stage).
"Another important game was last season's Greek Cup final, it was the beginning (in winning trophies) that Olympiacos needed."
Olympiacos are approaching the business end of the season in both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and Greek domestic competitions and then, in the summer, the big challenge of EuroBasket 2011 awaits the national team.
"You have to take life one step at the time," the European Player of the Year says.
"We have a task at hand with Olympiacos and we want to reach higher this year, go all the way.
"The EuroBasket is still far ahead," he says, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been thinking about it.
"Personally, I'll be happy with a medal and the qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"It will feel different without coach Ivkovic, but either way we need to prove in Lithuania that Serbian basketball is strong again and that what we achieved in the last couple of years was not an accident," the charismatic point guard says.
|Teodosic moved to Olympiacos from KK FMP in 2007, after being named U20 European Championship MVP|
Olympiacos and Serbia head coach Dusan Ivkovic seems to have played an important part in Milos's career in general.
"The people that have helped me are my family, the people close to me," he says.
But also "all the coaches I've had in my career because I've learned something from each one, and especially coach Ivkovic."
Magic, Saša And Vasilis
On the basketball court, Teodosic dribbles, passes and shoots the ball so effortlessly that surely he must have been born with a natural gift for the sport.
He has so many virtues as a player that one could believe he doesn't really need to show up for practice every day anymore.
The Serbia star doesn't think so.
Getting to be that good "is a combination of both talent and hard work," he says.
"I think there're still lots of things I need to learn and improve on.
"I like passing the ball effectively and making my teammates' life easier. Maybe that is my strong point.
"One of the things I need to work on is maintaining my cool during the game and avoid making mistakes.
"I could definitely improve on defence too. In general though, you need to work hard every single day."
Either because of talent or hard work, there must have been some players that he thought were doing a good job.
"The best player ever in Europe was Predrag Danilovic" declares Milos.
"And in the NBA, Magic Johnson," he adds.
What about active players though, the ones he's actually played with or against?
"The toughest opponent and the best teammate I ever had is the same person," he surprises us.
"It's Vasilis Spanoulis."