EuroBasket Debrief: TAI’s Czech Correspondent Checks In
Editor’s Note: As a debrief of sorts, I posed some questions to TAI’s Czech correspondent, Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow), about the performance of the Czech Republic National Team at EuroBasket 2013. —Kyle W.
1) How much will EuroBasket 2013 do for Jan Vesely’s confidence?
Kuba: This confidence issue is tough to predict going forward, but from what I’ve seen from Vesely over these last several days, his EuroBasket experience definitely won’t be a bad thing going into Wizards training camp. How much? That’s the question… He must have a primal-scream attitude, the “hunter” mentality right off the bat in camp and then later in real games. He’s not a rookie or a second-year player in a new world anymore. He’ll soon be a third-year, young veteran player, and he has to take charge and be mean, not the friendly, shyly-standing-in-the-back Honza. Of course, if the Wizards exercise the fourth-year option on his rookie contract before the deadline at the end of October, that will help a lot, too. As those who watched EuroBasket just saw, Vesely has plenty of basketball skills, now is the time to use them and show he’s a legit NBA player.
2) How concerned should Wizards and Vesely followers be about his poor free throw shooting? Does it kill his confidence?
Kuba: Horrible free throws in big games, that’s a real concern. When Vesely slowly and painfully missed nine out of 10 in a do-or-die game against the Croatians, I was literally in a state of despair on the couch … that wasn’t fun at all. He said that he practiced them a lot during his workout sessions in Los Angeles earlier this summer—my source from his camp said Honza was hitting those freebies effortlessly most of the time. So, it’s not like he can’t hit them at a high clip because he’s some sort of a skill-less, awkward dude. The pessimist would say it will certainly hurt his confidence, because missing free throw after free throw would mess up almost everyone’s game. However, if he shoots at least .600—and I believe Honza can manage that numberz—he can be a very useful player.
[Note: Vesely shot .532 as a rookie and .308 last season.]
3) What was the best moment for the Czechs at this EuroBasket?
Kuba: The Poland game with Lubos Barton’s game-winning 3 was awesome, just pure excitement for the Czechs and their fans. Actually, I was watching the game with/sort of babysitting my 4-year-old cousin (a girl), and her 6-year-old brother, and after the final buzzer brought the much-needed win, we all three started jumping all over the room and screaming. BUT… I think the best moment for Czech Republic was their utter demolition of Georgia. This game was basically a Czech basketball orgasm. Those who watched that game loved the run-and-gun, beautiful style of basketball that was on display almost from start to finish. Media and fans were raving about Vesely and Satoransky, just an insane moment for a basketball fan in the country. Maybe it was just for one night, but hearing the love of their loyal supporters, Czech players must have felt like kings of EuroBasket.
4) What was the worst moment?
Kuba: Definitely the second half of a win-or-go-home against Croatia. Remember, before the tournament the Czech team was perceived as the underdog of all underdogs, predicted by many to go winless in the group. And after four games, they were one win away from advancing further, which would have been a great success for Czech basketball. I don’t know if the profound disappointment of the last lost game can be dubbed the worst moment, but all the missed free throws will haunt the team for some time. I’d rather say this was the worst night for the Czechs, but after they woke up the following morning they could feel a sense of accomplishment and head home with heads high, proud and satisfied with their overall play.
5) Were you surprised by the improvement showed by Satoransky during EuroBasket? Do you think he plays for Cajasol next season or does he find somewhere else to play in Europe for one more season?
Kuba: Honestly, I can’t say I was surprised by Satoransky’s play and leadership qualities—I had been following him closely these past few months so I knew what he was capable of. The shoulder/cracked rib injury slowed him down a bit in two games (it happened in the Poland game, and he said he was “90 percent” in the contest against the Spaniards), but he’s definitely a special player with his height, speed, smarts, and court vision. I’ve noticed some writers opining he won’t be a point guard in the NBA if he gets there. I disagree. I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s going to follow a path of Sacramento Kings guard Greivis Vasquez. They’re similar players, size-wise. Yes, Saty’s shot looks flat most of the time, but he’s such a hard worker and loves basketball so much I don’t doubt he will improve into a better and more consistent shooter. As for where he plays, he’s going to play out his contract in Cajasol Seville, methinks. There’ve been rumors about some of the Spanish Euroleague teams wanting him, however, now it seems like Tomas will stay where he’s at. In these tough financial times in Europe, even the wealthier clubs don’t appear to have the wherewithal to pry him away from Cajasol just for one season. He’s got a great coach for him in Seville in Aíto García Reneses, and don’t be surprised if he improves under coach Aíto even more in the upcoming 2013-14 ACB League season.
BONUS /// Translated Quotes:
Czech coach Pavel Budinsky on Tomas Satoransky:
“Tomas is our leader. He’s in excellent shape, he’s such an alpha male, a winner who pushes us forward. It’s just a matter of time until he plays in the NBA. We’re going to hear a lot about him [in the future]. His combination of hard work, ambitions and character is amazing.”
Satoransky after the Georgia game on the rejuvenated Jan Vesely:
“In particular, I think Honza’s awfully enjoying the EuroBasket right now. After two years he returned to the style of basketball which fits him the most and which he likes, even when he plays the center most of the time. But step by step he’s getting closer to master playing this position, he got used to being center. He helps us tremendously on defense against those big men. On offense, he’s absolutely active and aggressive. Finally we get to see the real Vesely—this is the way I know him from Partizan [Belgrade] or from earlier years. He’s pumped up and he amazes the whole basketball Europe again. I hope that he carries over these performances to the NBA, and that he shows that he’s the player who dominated the EuroBasket.”
Jan Vesely in last game versus Croatia (with one free throw highlight!):