Patrick Samoura (198-F-00, college: Cochise CC) is a 20 year old 198cm forward currently with the Czech Republic national team that will be playing at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan. He has played his whole career with USK Praha (NBL) and last season played 16 games averaging 13.0ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.8apg, Steals-5 (1.7spg), FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 26.9%, FT: 72.7%. He also played two seasons with Cochise College (JUCO) playing 30 games averaging 7.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 77.7% and 8.8ppg, 9.1rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 76.5%. He also has played at the U-16 and U-18 European Championships. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the Czech Republic qualified for the 2021 Summer Olympics.
Patrick thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on reaching the 2021 Olympics. Did Victoria get to know what it is like when very happy Czech men party?
I wouldn’t say party, but we had our little gathering to celebrate this huge achievement.
What was going through your head when the siren sounded to end the game against Greece?
That I cannot believe this. This is my first year with the men’s national team and in it we make it to the Olympics games which is one of my dreams. Also, that our little country is making this happen. We are almost every time the underdogs and not many people believe in us. However, we have our quality and team chemistry.
Were the last minutes the longest of your life?
Not really, because we were up by 30 points and the game prior to against Greece was against Canada where we were up by 10 points with 52 seconds left in the 4th quarter. Those were the longest seconds of my life and imagine going to overtime after that.
One has to realize what the Czech national team achieved in the last week. Not only did the club reach the Olympics but beat Canada and Greece back to back with in 24 hours. Is this the biggest achievement in Czech basketball history?
I would say this is the biggest achievement in modern history. The last time Czechs went to Olympics games was 40 years ago and this was a huge achievement too. However, in modern history I would say this is the biggest. I would like to think that it also surpasses the 6th place in the World Cup that was in China in 2019.
Let’s begin with the Canada win. How key was the 80-79 win over Uruguay on Friday? Did this put the team in a little different mind set going into the Canada game raising the confidence even more?
For us this game was do-or-die. Without it we would just go home. I don’t want to say that it raised our confidence because we had to win it to get to the semifinals. However, it helped us. We go into each and every game with the winning mentality even though our opponent may be more talented, we are competitors.
The Czech Republic had a nice lead at the end but they stormed back. How were you guys holding up mentally leading up to the Tomas Satoransky game winner?
It was out of this world. We lost the 10 point lead in 52 seconds. Of course it was mentally tough but we believed in ourselves and made it through the storm.
Tomas Satoransky won the game with dazzling 1-1 play and nailed the shot with a bank shot? Did you know that the ball was going in?
I was hoping I did not see it in a good angle, so I had to guess. However, the shot was incredible. Especially against one of the best defenders in the world Luguentz Dort who plays for the Thundes. After that it was just euphoria.
Ondrej Balvin had a monster game as did Blake Schilb. I remember Schilb being very far from a monster in Hamburg at the Super Cup. Was he saving his best for last?
Ondej had a big game with 19 boards which helped tremendously, also his passes, size and vision made it possible for us to win because Canada played small-ball. Blake erupted in that game. Perhaps, he was saving his best for this game but I think in our team anybody can score high numbers, but it depends on the game. In that one it was Blake.
What kind of an experience was it playing against these very talented Canadian players with loads of NBA experience? Which player stood out most to you?
It was amazing. I saw how NBA players play and carry themselves. I saw the physicality and aggressiveness with which they play and also the high IQ. Who most stood out for me from Canada would be Nickeil Alexander-Walker. He was great his finishing around the rim, shooting and the one on one stood out for me.
Against Greece you led 81-53 after three quarters. You had absolutely no mercy. What did you learn about the team’s offense on this weekend that you didn’t know about before?
That we have more offensive potential than we realize which for us is an advantage that we have to utilize in upcoming Olympics.
When you look back over the Olympic qualifying weekend what was the biggest quality of the team. Obviously every team wanted to reach the Olympics, but would it be fair to say that deep down the Czech republic wanted it more?
Our biggest quality is team chemistry and because of that no matter the situation we stick together until the vey end. Everybody wanted to go to Tokyo that is undeniable. However, we managed of all teams to show it and execute it on the court.
The Czech Republic didn’t look so good in Hamburg, but you guys sure did work on everything after leading up to the qualifying tournament. How are you a different team now then when you left Hamburg at both ends of the court?
It is safe to say that in Hamburg we were not ready to compete against those teams. Nevertheless, it was a learning experience where we saw how the basketball is supposed to be played. As we completed our roster, we competed at each and every practice and it brought us fruit.
What kind of special words did head coach Ronin Ginzburg find for the club after the Greece win?
Let’s win this freaking game!
Does it feel like you’re a small kid in a candy store when thinking about playing against USA? Is this like a triple dream come true?
I really never thought about it but now as it is coming closer, I am getting more and more excited. I will be playing against the best players in the NBA which for me is something spectacular.
Which USA player are you looking most forward to playing against?
Probably Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum.
The Czech Republic have a tough group with USA, France and Iran. What will you have to do as a team to advance?
Our mindset is that everybody is beatable, and anybody can be beaten and with that we have to go into each game whether it is USA, Iran or France.
On what things are you most looking forward to at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics? Are there any athletes that you really want to meet?
I cannot wait to see how Japan or rather Tokyo looks. The culture, people, food everything is superb for me.
Until now I did not think about meeting any particular athlete. I will see who I meet when we get there.
What was the last movie that you saw?
It was a movie Gangs of New York.
Thanks Patrick for the chat.