Matjaz Smodis: “I am not finished yet”

2012-03-01T14:08:26+00:00 2016-02-14T22:52:48+00:00.

Aris Barkas

01/Mar/12 14:08

The Slovenian legend talks to about his passion. Too old for basketball in the age of 32? Think again Europe. After a cup in Croatia with unsung Cedevita, Smodis believes that he still has gas in the tank and still shows it in the court

By Lefteris Moutis

The Croatian cup final reminded that the last’s decade best power forward in Europe is still in action. Matjaz Smodis still suffers with back problems and with the control of his weight and still spends more time with his physiotherapist than with his coach. But he is still a star, a player for “cup games”.

During last eleven years Smodis used to be a top level player, with Bologna (Virtus and Climamio) and CSKA. After his first title in his homeland, with Krka in 2000, he won 15 trophies, but the one he is most proud of is last year’s Croatian Cup, with Cedevita… Not because he played better than any other game or because the glory of this title was bigger than every other title.

The only reason for keeping this moment, above all, is he achieved to play as the great power forward he was, before injuries (in back and feet), 2 1/2 years ago. And remind to everyone in Europe he remains a winner. He scored 27 points in cup final against Zagreb, won the MVP title and quoted to “I had the opportunity to show again to everybody I haven’t finished yet. I still have big motivation. I am the living proof that if you work hard and continue to believe in yourself, you will succeed”.

That’s why Cedevita decided to create the core of the team around him. “He isn’t at the level we all remember him in CSKA and Bologna, but he is by far the best and most famous foreign player in the history of Croatian basketball” says Toma Dragicevic, reporter from Zagreb.

Despite his professionalism and passion to play, Smodis is not able to participate at every practice of Cedevita due to his injuries -he has continued relapses. Only few moments after his great performance, he said “unfortunately, it’s difficult to leave out of this vicious circle of injuries”. He has physiotherapies after almost every game and his demanding coach, Drazen Anzulovic accepts -without hesitation or question- his absences from practices.

Problems are not something new for the 32-year old Slovene, who insists on working hard to reach his full strength from 2009. First he chose physiotherapies -for his back problem- over surgery which he couldn’t avoid, after all. And when he understood he couldn’t get back at is best shape, he decided to start… kick boxing, that helped him a lot, during the summer time, to be at his best physical condition.

At the same time, he was in search for a new team. Many clubs knocked at his door (such as Panathinaikos which Smodis had to reject cause “it’s a compliment to every player an offer from Panathinaikos, but I wasn’t ready to play there”) and because he couldn’t find what he was looking for, at the end of August he signed with Cedevita.

Exept for the obvious reasons, the most important one was his love for his family.

How hard is to stand off the lights so quickly? If you have being overfilled by the feelings of success for over a decade, its easier to choose to live close to your loved ones than to be away hunting one more success. You see, Zagreb is so close to his hometown that he is able to sleep in his own bed, almost every day.

“For 11 years I was on the road. So, it was time to get some rest. I haven’t had any vacations for many many years and it’s very difficult for me get back at top level”. Does this mean he is close to retirement? “Maybe this season is my last year in action. I will think about it very soon, but I haven’t decided yet”, he explains two months later from his 32nd birthday…