Predrag Samardziski: "I'm a fighter and a leader"
I read your father was a star in Macedonia. How good was he?
Predrag Samardziski: He was very good. He was a star in Macedonia, but he didn't have the right chance to have a great career. In Macedonia, teams are not really very good, so it was harder to shine in that situation.
Are you similar to your father as a player?
PS: I can't remember very well the time when my father played. I was 3 when he stopped playing. I remember a little bit of his last season, but he was old then.
Which player was your idol growing up?
Divac is the president of your club. Have you spoken with him lately?
PS: I have spoken with him. I was thrilled when he told me he wanted me to play for this team. That was a great feeling.
When did you start playing basketball?
PS: Officially, when I was 8. But I kind of started playing when I was 2. I went to my father's practices and I played there. They always tell me that while my father was practicing with his team, I was in a corner of the court dribbling the ball – even though I was not much bigger than the ball (laughs).
And when did you first thought you could make a living playing basketball?
PS: Maybe when I came to Partizan. But to tell you the truth, I'm still looking at basketball as having fun. Playing basketball makes me feel good. That's something I love to do. I don't look at it as a job. I look at it as fun. I have a lot of fun playing.
When did you move to Belgrade from Macedonia?
PS: Well, this is my third season here.
Did you move because of Partizan wanted you in Belgrade or was there any other thing?
PS: Nah, it was only because Partizan wanted me.
Was it tough moving to a new country?
PS: No, it was not tough. People told me that it would be hard, but it has not been that hard. It was a great opportunity for me. It gives me the best chance to develop myself as a basketball player. You know, Serbia-Montenegro is a basketball country. They have a lot of great players. They are the world champions. My father told me that it was the best thing for me. They have great programs for young players. We practice a lot and every day here.
You still don't play with the senior team. Why?
PS: I don't know. I'm playing with the junior team. Maybe they think I'm not ready yet. In Partizan, they have a plan for every young player. The programs are very good for young players. In my case, maybe they don't think I'm ready to play with the seniors yet.
What kind of competition are you facing now? Is it good competition?
PS: It's good, it's very good. Maybe it's not like first division-level, but probably like second or third. It's very good competition. We get a lot of experience there because we play a lot of games and we learn a lot.
Do you follow the NBA much?
What team do you like more? Most players from where you are love the Kings.
PS: Yeah, I like the Kings. They have a good basketball team and they play really well. But I like other teams, too. I like the Lakers, Minnesota... I like any team that plays good basketball, that plays fast – all of those teams.
What do you think about all those European players going to the NBA very early in their careers – like Milicic?
PS: I don't know. If they think they are ready to go to the NBA and the NBA teams think they are ready... It's their choice. They have the right to decide what they think it's best for them.
Would you do something like that – going to the NBA that young?
PS: First thing, I'd like to make it here. I know I have a good chance to develop my skills here. Like I said, they have very good programs for young players. Besides, NBA scouts tell me that if I wait, I could go to the NBA next year.
So is there any chance that you could declare for the draft this season?
PS: We'll see. I'm still not thinking about that. I'm thinking about this season. When the season comes to an end, I'll sit with my father and the manager to see what plans they have for me and we will decide what we are going to do.
Which areas of your game do you think you have to work on the most right now?
PS: Being young, I have to work on everything. But specifically, I think I have to work on my post game the most. I'm playing power forward here, but when I was in Macedonia my coach wanted me to play point guard sometimes. I think I was the tallest player playing the point! But here I play the power forward spot and I love it. In this position you can play inside, but you can step out and play outside, too. But I have to work on getting stronger physically and in my defense.
If you have to describe yourself in a few words for those who haven't seen you play, what would you say?
PS: A fighter. I'm a fighter. I would describe myself as someone who doesn't want to lose, who does everything to win. And as a leader.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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