Marko Tomas: "The NBA is not my first option"
You played with the Croatian National Team last summer in the European Championship. Tell me a little bit about your experience there.
Marko Tomas: It was good. I didn't play a lot of minutes the first few games, but I had a chance to play a lot in the quarter finals. And, you know, we had very bad luck there. Very bad luck (laughs). It was a big loss for us, but it was also a very good experience for me.
That must have been sad for you because of the way it ended. You played well and then you had that strange game vs. Spain in the quarter finals... Do you still think the referees played a big role in your defeat?
MT: Yes, yes, of course. But I watched the game again when I returned home, and had I scored one the free throws, there was nothing the referees could have done. Now you can't say anything about it. Just forget it and move on.
Did you lose sleep over that game?
MT: Yes, of course. Nobody could sleep after that game.
How are you adjusting to life in Spain?
MT: At the beginning, it was very difficult because this is my first time out of home. I was coming to a big team being still very young... Besides, I didn't speak Spanish. But coach Maljkovic has helped me. He has spent a lot of time with me and now I feel good and I hope I will play well.
Is this what you were expecting or were you expecting to play a bigger role on the offensive end?
MT: When I came here, the thing that I cared is to see if I played. That was the most important thing for me. Once I realized I was going to play, I was happy. Now I prefer to play more defense.
Does it feel strange not having your brother Ivan on your team for the first time in many years?
MT: It was strange. When we played together in Zagreb, he was the point guard there and he was always looking to find me. Here is a very different situation, but I have to get used to it. It doesn't matter.
You had the chance to join another Spanish team, Tau Ceramica, last year. Why Real Madrid and not Tau?
MT: They made an offer for me, but the officials in my club in Zagreb turned it down. I would have liked to play for Tau Ceramica because it's a great team too, but I'm more happy with Real Madrid now.
You signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid last summer. Why such a long contract?
MT: I don't know. For now, you know, the NBA is not my first option. Real Madrid is the biggest club in Europe, the biggest institution. And I'm happy with the five-year contract.
So you will forget about the NBA for the next five years. No chance you go there.
MT: Not yet. For now, not yet. But you never know. Maybe for two years. But I have to get experience here in Europe and, if I'm good enough, I would like to go to the NBA then.
You declared for the draft the last two years. Were you serious about staying in the draft?
MT: The last year was different. Last year, I pulled out of the draft, but it was because of a complicated situation. There was this big buyout in my club and, you know, because of that some teams wouldn't select me. They can only pay $350,000 for the buyout. In my club, they told me, "If you go to the NBA, the buyout is double the money compared to the buyout if you go to Madrid." I strongly consider staying, but anyway it's no big deal.
Larry Bird was disappointed that you pulled out. Did you know that?
MT: Yeah, I know that. But I can do nothing now (laughs).
Any time a young Croatian player excels, they say he's the next Drazen Petrovic on the next Toni Kukoc. Do you have anything in common with any of those?
MT: That's a big problem. To me, that's bullshit because no one can compare to Drazen Petrovic. Nobody can be like him, so that's it.
Would you compare yourself with any NBA player in particular because of the way you play?
MT: I don't know because I don't watch NBA games now. For me, Scottie Pippen was my idol. Michael Jordan was everybody's idol. But for me, Pippen was an idol. Right now, I can't compare myself with any NBA player really.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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