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Matjaz Smodis, Slovenia
From FibaEurope.com: There are not many National Teams who can say that they have a veteran of four EuroLeague Final Fours (two of which ended in championships) on their roster but Slovenia is one of them. Because of injury, Smodis has only represented Slovenia in two EuroBaskets - 1999 in France and 2001 in Turkey - and even though he had some problems with his back last season, both Slovenian fans and National Team coach Aleš Pipan hope that he will be at his best at in Spain.
For more than a decade, Smodiš has proved to be one of the best power forwards in Europe.
Smodiš started his professional career at Krka Novo Mesto, during the 1994-95 season and stayed there until the 1999-2000 season. At the time, Union Olimpija Ljubljana, filled with stars like Šarunas Jasikevičius and Marko Milič, seemed to be unbeatable in Slovenia, but in the semifinals of the National League, Krka, led by Smodiš, produced the biggest upset in the history of Slovenian club basketball. Krka won their first of two titles behind Smodis and his performances did not go unnoticed. On the strength of these performances one of the best European coaches Ettore Messina, invited "Rocky" – his nickname in Slovenia because of his uncompromising fighting spirit – to Virtus Bologna. To quote Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca it was "the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
In the first year at Bologna (2000-01), the team managed to win both the Euroleague title and the Lega. After three years at Virtus, Smodiš stayed in Bologna but moved to Fortitudo where he returned to the EuroLeague Final Four but this time around, he was less successful as Fortitudo lost by 44 points to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final. Though Smodis established himself as a very prominent player in Bologna, he felt that it was time for a new challenge as Messina invited him to come on board his project with CSKA Moscow where the duo managed to repeat the trick they pulled off in Italy. At the 2006 final in Prague, Somdis got his revenge as CSKA defeated Maccabi 73-69.
Though CSKA did not manage to retain their Euroleague crown last season, it was very successful for Smodiš personally. On the path to the final, Smodiš was instrumental for CSKA and was named the 2006-07 Euroleague MVP in February. Clearly the 27-year-old is the most important player for Slovenia at EuroBasket 2007, assuming his back is healthy.
Name: Matjaz Smodis
Born: December 13, 1979
Origin: Trbovlje, Slovenia
Height: 6-9/205 cm
Weight: 265lbs/120.2 kg
Languages: Slovenian, English
Teams (jersey): Slovenian National Team, Krka (1994-2000), Virtus Bologna (2000-03), Fortitudo Bologna (2003-05), CSKA Moscow (2005-07)
|Matjaz Smodis Links From our forum: Slovenian National Team Articles and other resources: Smodis Weighs His NBA Chances (Fiba 2005)|