Mikko Koivisto is a 29 year old 194cm shooting guard that currently is playing with the Finish national team. He started his basketball career with Rekolan Urheilijat Vantaa (1st Division) in 2003 before venturing to the States in 2004 where he played at Holy Cross Regional High School in Lynchburg, VA for two years and then played at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) from 2006-2010 playing a total of 118 NCAA games and as a senior played 29 games averaging 8.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 32.9%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 83.6%. He returned back to Europe in 2010 and played in his native Finland with Torpan Pojat Helsinki (Korisliiga) and Nilan Bisons Loimaa (Korisliiga) for the next four seasons. He also played briefly with Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-TBL). Two seasons ago he played with the Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-BBL): 15 games: 5.5ppg, 1.4rpg, FGP: 22.2%, 3PT: 38.1%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 2.7ppg, 1.2apg. Last season he played with the Bisons Loimaa (Korisliiga): VTB League: 16 games: 7.5ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 21.4%, 3PT: 39.3%; VTB United League: 16 games: 7.5ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.5apg, 2FGP: 21.4%, 3FGP: 39.3%; Finnish Korisliiga: 15 games: 6.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.9apg, 2FGP: 42.9%, 3FGP: 36.1%, FT: 66.7%, in Feb.’16 moved to Karhu Kauhajoki (Korisliiga): 12 games: 7.4ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 80.0%, 3PT: 46.7%. He spoke to German Hoops during the Super Cup weekend in Ulm.
Mikko thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. This will be your second time to Ulm. What do you remember most about your last time in the Ulm arena? The atmosphere of the crowd or the Fraport Skyliners win and Danilo Barthel 15 point 10 rebound explosion?
Hello! For sure I remember the atmosphere in the arena. It was loud in there. We came up with a really good road win. Also it was one of the games I played with a broken thumb so pretty painful memory also.
What will be the first thing that you will ask ex teammate Johannes Voigtmann when you see him again on the court in Ulm? Possibly why he can´t grow a beard like German national teammate Danilo Barthel of FC Bayern Munich?
I saw Big Jo and Danilo in Finland couple weeks ago. It was great to see them again. On the court I just need to make sure they don’t score against me. In Finland I got switched into guarding Jo but luckily he missed his shot! I made sure to let him know that it was because of my defense.
Finland doesn´t have the pressure of having to perform at the 2016 European qualifying because it is together with Turkey, Israel and Romania one of the host countries for the Euro 2017. With what kind of an approach is the team going into the exhibition games this summer?
Everything we do this summer is to prepare us for the Euro2017. We want to use this as an opportunity to get better. We have some new young guys coming into the team and this allows us to get them caught up with everything.
Finland has interesting opponents at the Super Cup in Ulm with Germany, Russia and Poland. Is Finland at a point now where they can beat every country on a good day?
We feel like we can play against anybody. Our approach to every game is to win it. I really feel like when we have our full team we can do that.
Finland beat Germany recently in an exhibition game in Finland. The Dirk Nowitzki era is over and Dennis Schroeder is missing. But Germany still has talented guys with NBA players Tibor Pleiss and Paul Zipser as well as many other players. With Dennis Schroeder on board and team chemistry clicking, is Germany a country that could not only annoy some big countries at the Euro 2017, but contend for a medal?
Germany has a lot of talent on the team. They’re also a big team. Who knows how good they’re going to be next summer especially with the addition of Schroeder. I believe they have a chance to beat some really good teams. I wouldn’t necessarily even consider it a surprise if they did.
You played against Paul Zipser with the Fraport Skyliners and saw him recently again with team Germany. He was recently drafted by the Chicago Bulls. What about his game do you feel got him drafted?
He is a really good sized guard with some long arms. His size with his wingspan causes a lot of problems to smaller guards. He’s also a good athlete and great shooter.
Finland has a good mix of older players, younger guys having had some years of experience and then more younger guys that are getting their feet wet in international play. Finland is built around ex NBA player Erik Murphy and Petteri Koponen who was drafted by the 76ers in 2007 and has 66 Euroleague games under his belt. With another year of development what do you see Finland doing at Euro 2017?
I think we have a chance to surprise some people. It’s our home tournament so with the help of our home crowd we can hopefully get some good wins under our belt. This could be the year where we have our best Eurobasket yet.
The current biggest Finish talent is 19 year old 213cm big man Lauri Markkanen who will be play at Arizona(NCAA) this season. He dominated the recent U-20 European championships with 24/8 stats. Many are predicting that he will be an NBA Draft pick. How raw of a talent is he and does he have the mental toughness to make an impact right away in the NCAA?
Lauri is one of the best players especially his size Ive seen. I believe he will have an immediate impact in Arizona. He’s already shown in couple of the men’s NT games and practices that he’s not afraid of challenges. He has a great future ahead of him and he will be a big part of our team.
In a team that has a lot of scoring talent what exactly is your role that head coach Henrik Dettmann has for you? Are you more than that shooting threat from the bench?
I’m a guy that gives some rest minutes to Salin and other guards. My role is to shoot the ball when open and play smart basketball. I am one of our more experienced guys on our team and try to use that to our advantage by helping the younger guys out while on the court.
Was your 16 point effort in 21 minutes in the 92-76 win over Slovenia at the Euro 2013 that was stacked with so much NBA talent one of your best games in the national colors of Finland?
That is probably one of my best games. I have some good memories from playing here in Germany also. Exhibition games vs Turkey in Bamberg and vs Germany in Hagen. There are also good games where I haven’t scored as many points.
You played part of two seasons with Jacob Burtschi with the Fraport Skyliners and Bisons Loimaa (Korisliiga). He is still looking for a team, but if he doesn´t find the right situation, he will most likely retire. What would be the perfect persuasion to get Jacob Burtschi back on the court no matter what if money wasn´t an option?
Lol – Haha Jacob is a good friend of mine. He’s a great teammate on and off the court. I have some ideas but its probably better not to publish them.
Your season with the Fraport Skyliners was a season to forget as you battled injuries and not dressing for games. Despite all this what positive memories do you still have of your Germany experience today when you look back on that season?
It was a tough season for me. After a good start to the season I started battling with different injuries. That was the first time in my career I went through something like that. Despite that I have good memories from Frankfurt. I loved the city and the organization was really professional. We had some really good players on that team. They were all also really good people. I still keep in touch with many of them. It is unfortunate how the season ended for me. I would’ve loved to play longer in Germany.
You are still unsigned. Where will the future basketball journey of Mikko Koivisto go? Will you remain in Finland or go to another country?
We will see. Everything is still up in the air. I’d love to play outside of Finland but staying in Finland is also an option.
At NC-Greensboro you played together with two future Euroleague winners with Kyle Hines who won it with two different teams Olympiakos and CSKA Moscow and Ricky Hickman with Maccabi Tel Aviv. How vital was this unending consistent work ethic that Kyle Hines had day in and day out that made him a 3 time Euroleague winner?
Kyle is maybe the most dominant player I’ve seen in a certain league. The way he dominated in college was something different. He always played hard and seemed to out work his opponents. I’ve had the pleasure to play against him as a pro also in the VTB United league and his work ethic has not changed. Both Ricky and Kyle are good examples of where hard work and determination can take you.
When all is said and done where will Kyle Hines rank as most successful American to ever have played in Europe?
He has to be in my top-3. What he has achieved so far he’s standing on the #1 spot.
How did Mike Dement groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at NC-Greensboro?
I think mental toughness was one of the biggest things I learned while in the US. Working hard and not getting down after small setbacks.
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title home, where does this further ring put him in the debate against Michael Jordan as the all-time best ever?
I have to admit I’m not the biggest NBA guy but in my mind MJ is still the greatest. Kobe and Lebron are definitely in the debates but that’s my opinion.
If you had to construct an NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you choose?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Lebron James
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Mikko for the chat.