By Niki Bakouli/ email@example.com
When you’re a professional, you have to always choose what you thinκ best for yourself. Of course if you want to be consistent (at least with anything you want), a key requirement is to make a … dip into yourself, to acknowledge your advantages, but also accept your weaknesses. And then, you walk accordingly. Make the choice, taking into consideration all the responsibilities. Sophocles Schortsanitis if anything, has proven he knows how to master the “waves” of his life. Now, he’s about to tame all of those who question the “materials” he’s made of.
For the record, the first time that Panathinaikos was focused on him (actually it was Zeljko Obradovic) was in 2003, during the Junior Mundobasket in Thessaloniki. But, Shortsanitis chose Aris. Seven years later, Zoc paid him with the same coin, as it’s said in Greece, by choosing Aleks Maric instead of Big Sofo.
It was the summer of 2010, when Schortsanitis’ turbulent cooperation with Olympiacos was over and when he decided to give a shot to the NBA (he participated at the summer league with the Clippers, the franchise which had his rights in the NBA). But, it didn’t take him long to realize that … Europe suits him best. He returned, he was informed for the green interest (Pana bosses showed their love to him) and begun negotiations. He was 25 and at last feeling ready, having faced all his personal Furies, to work with one of the most demanding coaches in Europe.
Being sure that he has worked – finally – all the problems with himself and being in a very good life period (prior to endoscopy and endless hours of work in gyms and courts), wanted more than anything else to pass through all the demanding tests to prove (to himself and to the world) that the mistakes of the past, had become very valuable lessons.
That’s why it was he who suggested to include in his contract terms for everything that had troubled him in the past (from weight to curfew issues). And, despite he has verbally agreed, Obradovic finally felt more secure with the choice of Aleks Maric to replace Nikola Pekovic, hence Panathinaikos signed the Serbian rooted Australian.
All this happened somewhere in July of that year. Maccabi have entered the race for Sofo’s signature much earlier. They did not stop to court him even during the time that media were writing about Panathinaikos and the club showed, in every available manner, that he was necessary for their plan.
Schortsanitis said “yes” from the first minute he set his foot in Tel Aviv (where home crowd waited to welcome him with slogans and preface the worship that would follow the next two years ). He realized that this, Maccabi, was the best option for him. Everybody else understood it after watching his achievements in Israeli league and in Euroleague. A knee problem did not allow him to thrive during his second season there, which started spectacularly, but it ended much less than perfect. At first Maccabi wanted him to sign an extension, but a few months later they made use of the option to let him go (for 100,000 dollars). And he, in order to be ready for the next stop of his career on 28/5 he underwent arthroscopic surgery and … calmed down completely. There was another reason that didn’t let him be devoted completely to his team: his child.
In the summer of 2011, while being in the national team’s camp, preparing for Eurobasket in Lithuania, his companion, Irene informed him that there were complications in her pregnancy. With no second thoughts, he left everything to be next to her, despite Irene’s remarks to him to do the opposite. However, as he had stated, he felt that she deserved at least to have him by her side at that difficult time, as she was the one who stood by him in all his difficult times. All went well and four months ago, Maximus-Constantine came into the world. Sofo felt … almost complete. One more thing had to be done: return to homeland …
Even before Maccabi released him, Sofo was already aware that Obradovic was interested to take him in Panathinaikos. Since then however, there were many … momentous changes (like Zoc farewell), while other offers emerged. He had to wait for Panathinaikos, which was his first choice as he would have the opportunity to be close to his family without affecting its other members. It is obvious that he was mainly interested in being one of the foundations upon which the new Panathinaikos will be built.
On this he was assured by Dimitris Giannakopoulos, the new boss in a private conversation. When Sofo heard also by coach Argyris Pedoulaki what’s the new team reality, he hadn’t have to think anything else. He took the pen and signed. Now, he can devote himself to the preparations of his wedding in August, at Corfu and then take over his new responsibility and do whatever it takes, until he proves that ,yes, Panathinaikos can rely on him.