Tomas Satoransky is a 23 year old 201cm point guard from the Czech Republic that will be playing his second professional season with FC Barcelona. He started his basketball career in 2006 with USK Praha where he played until 2009. He then made the jump to FC Sevilla where he played five seasons. In 2012 he was drafted by the Drafted by Washington Wizards (NBA,2rd(32). Last season with FC Barcelona he played 41 games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.4apg, FGP-2(65.5%), 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 83.8%; Euroleague: 27 games: 7.2ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 85.0%. Satoransky gave German Hoops an exclusive interview before the test game in Wetzlar against Germany
Tomas thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are currently preparing in Wetzlar Germany for the 2015 Eurochampionships and a game against Germany. How often have you been in Germany and what has been your experience playing against Germany in the past in national teams?
This is my first time playing against the German A team. I remember playing against the German U-20 team and we beat them. I remember that Maik Zirbes was on the team. Other than that I was twice in Germany last season when we played against Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich. The loss to Alba Berlin was one of our worst games of the season.
Last weekend the Czech Republic lost a pair of friendlies to neighbor Poland. The second game was tight 65-64. What was your overall impression of the Polish team?
The Polish team is looking better than we are at the moment. They have been practicing together longer than we have and we still need to find ourselves and come together. I am really happy and proud that Mike Taylor is the head coach there now and doing such a good job. He was the assistant of the Czech team some years ago and is just a great guy. When he was the assistant with the Czech team he was responsible for scouting and he has such a high basketball IQ and is proving it with the Polish team now.
How has the Czech National team been progressing in their preparations for Euro 2015? What have you been happy about and what does the team still need to work on?
We are getting better each day and are hoping that we can get Blake Schilb cleared to play. He recently married a Czech girl and is waiting for the passport. Jan Vesely joined us recently and is also practicing with the team. I feel that we are making progress and one could see improvements in the two games against Poland. We played a lot better in the second game. A big problem so far has been our shooting. If we can make our open shots than we will be dangerous. Our transition game is good, but we need to find our rhythm on offense and defense and progress more on the set play.
Germany will be with Atlanta Hawk Dennis Schroeder and your ex teammate Tibor Pleiss, but without Dirk Nowitzki. What kind of game can we await tonight?
Germany is already in good shape even though Dirk Nowtzki hasn´t joined the team yet. We saw them play against Italy and they looked good. They put a lot of pressure on the opponent and just play aggressive basketball. I think having Tibor Pleiss will give Germany a huge advantage inside. He is so strong inside and will give many teams problems. I never played against Dennis Schroeder, but know that he has developed well with the Atlanta Hawks. It will be tough against him, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
The Czech Republic is in a group with teams like Lithuania, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, and Belgium. How good is your feeling that you will advance and who do you see as the sleeper?
I feel that we have a pretty good group compared to other countries. It will still be tough for us. We will play against three teams where it will feel like they have home court advantage because of their fan support. I feel that our experience will help us in this group. The Ukraine played very well last year and Belgium is always very tough to play against. I expect that Lithuania will fight for a medal. We still have a lot of time to get ready for this group, but I have a good feeling that we can advance.
The Czech Republic has a lot of experience, but how does the future look like? The team currently has a few guys from the 90s birth year with you and Ondrej Balvin
We are going through changes and they will continue in the next years. We still have many vets on the team, but we have good youth coming up. I think that we have good U 20 players getting prepared for the A team. It always depends how well they work on their game individually. It will take time for these young players to develop into very good professionals, but I feel that the Czech national team has a bright future.
You are only 23 years old, but already play for top team FC Barcelona. You are the future of the Czech national team. What is your role mainly at the Euro 2015 this year?
I think that my role this summer will be similar to what I had last year in the national team. I have had good experiences playing in the A team in the last years and am confident going into Euro 2015. I hope I can bring the usual high energy. I also will organize our plays and team. I really improved reading the game with FC Barcelona and I hope to bring that strength this summer.
You are a new generation of the tall point guards at 201cm. Obviously you can score, pass and rebound very well, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
Like you said, I try to be a complete player all the time. I am not really the big scorer, so I try to help in other areas. I feel that people don´t really talk about my defense. When I came to FC Barcelona, I didn´t have a big role, so I had to defend the opponents best player. It is so important to be able to help on both ends of the court. There is no excuse not to play hard defense
You have stated that you came in contact with basketball because of your interest in dunking. Usually one asks a point guard your favorite passers or point guard. But who is your favorite dunker?
When I was a kid I was crazy watching many videos of dunks. I really do enjoy watching good dunks even now. My all time favorite dunker is Vince Carter and I also like Blake Griffin. In Europe my favorite dunker is my good friend Jan Vesely who does amazing dunks. I really enjoy watching him dunk.
You played five seasons with Sevilla before moving to FC Barcelona last season. How important was it staying longer here than possibly moving to a top Euroleague team earlier in your development?
Yes I feel it was very important in my development to stay longer at Sevilla. I waited for the right moment to go and feel that it was the right time in 2014. In my last two years at Sevilla I had coach Garcia who had coached guys like Ricky Rubio and Juan Navarro. Coach Garcia is known for being able to develop young players as he is great at pointing out all the details. Those last two years under Garcia really helped me make the next step
What memories do you have of ex Frankfurt Skyliner Tyrone Ellis in your first season at Sevilla where you were a young buck in your first year away from the Czech Republic?
Wow that is a long time ago, but I remember Tyrone being a real professional. He was a great defender and so good at defending all shooting positions. Something that really stuck in my mind was how well he was prepared every day was it for practice or for a game. I took his preparation skills and incorporated it into my routine that I use.
Last season with FC Barcelona you held your own on a team filled with superstars playing 41 games: 8.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.4apg, FGP-2(65.5%), 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 83.8%; Euroleague: 27 games: 7.2ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 85.0%. How much of a challenge is it playing on one of the top teams in the world and how important is consistency on a daily rate when the competition is so high?
Coming to FC Barcelona was a big change from Sevilla. With FC Barcelona you are under so much pressure as everyone expects you to win. But when you have a team that has so many good players, everything seems easier on the court. Every guy can read the game so well that it makes life a lot easier on the court. However there are two sides to it. When you lose everything is tough especially when you lose to Real Madrid. Last season was very tough as we won nothing.
Tibor Pleiss got a three year deal with the Utah Jazz and was drafted in 2010. He waited five years to develop further in Europe before making the jump to the NBA. You were drafted in 2012 by the Washington Wizards. Is the NBA still a big goal of yours?
The NBA is still there for me somewhere. The NBA is the dream of every player. I feel it was a good decision to play for FC Barcelona and I have resigned for this season. I will see what happens in the next years. It is all about waiting for the right moment. I want to try the NBA once.
What is your nicest memory of Tibor Pleiss and what is something that he can do that not many people know about?
Tibor can eat 4 plates at dinner. He is always smiling and that is very good for the team.
Who would win a one on one in practice you of Deshaun Thomas?
We haven´t played much, but it would be tough against him especially in the low post. He is hard to guard and it would be a tough match up
What was your experience with Lionel Messi last season. Did you get to meet him?
It is very exciting to play for FC Barcelona and be living next to football players. I met Neymar and Pique, but I actually never met Messi. Neymar came to some of our games. Messi doesn´t like to draw attention and just stays in his house. People go crazy wherever Messi goes. He can´t go into downtown area. I only saw him on the field
What was the last movie that you saw?
My last movie was an old one with Heat and Al Pacino and Robert Di Nero. They are my favorite actors.
Thanks Tomas for the chat.