Hello basketball fans!
My name is Heiko Schaffartzik and I truly hope that we will get to know each other really well this season. First I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I play guard for Alba Berlin, which is my hometown club. I also play for the German national team and spent much of the summer preparing for and playing at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania. I have a passion for the game of basketball and have been playing it since I was old enough to dribble. My goal is always to play at the highest level, which is why I am eager – as are my teammates – to qualify for the Euroleague this week by winning our tournament in Charleroi.
Before I look ahead to the new season, how can I not talk about the summer? The EuroBasket in Lithuania has two sides for me: it was very exciting and very disappointing. It was exciting to get a chance to play against Sarunas Jasikevicius in front of a crazy wall of loud, green fans, but it was disappointing to have been knocked out of the tournament and not make the quarterfinals. It was exciting to win some crucial games with my countrymen and to feel the togetherness of the national team, but it was disappointing to lose the decisive ones and to have to go home while the others were competing for the trophy. After we went home I barely watched the tournament – only highlights and the final game – as I was trying to get away from basketball during the short break I had.
I will admit though that it was fun watching Dirk's one-legged, fade-away, and-one jumpers in the post against three defenders, really unbelievable... Afterwards I was drained, both mentally and physically. And I still am a bit tired with my engine running on low, but I know that I will turn it up soon because the first big challenge of this season awaits: the Euroleague qualification tournament in Charleroi.
My team and I have a lot to win at this early stage of the season, and we are really looking forward to it. It will be tough, because there are so many good teams. I think there will be a lot of close games. Our first opponent is VEF Riga, and they are extremely dangerous with good shooters and a tough defense. We will have to come out focused and ready if we want to keep our chances alive.
While I was preparing for EuroBasket, my teammates had an interesting preseason experience. They did a two-week training camp in China. It sounded to me like a great opportunity to visit China, a place that I have never been to. I stayed in regular contact with my very good friend, Yassin Idbihi, who kept me updated. Even though the experiences of the players differed, they sure did come back ready to play. After seeing our team when I got back, I feel optimistic: we kept the core of last year's team together and strengthened ourselves with Torin Francis, Marko Simonovic, DaShaun Wood and Kyle Weaver. The competition level is very high in practice, and our new coach Gordon Herbert has a clear way of how he wants to go about winning this season. He is known for being successful, and we are happy to play for him.
For me personally it is a goal to play in the Euroleague and it has been now for quite some time, so I am really excited about this opportunity to get that level. At the same time, I have the feeling that all the players at Alba Berlin share that desire, so I guess we’re ready to go out and prove that we too belong there.
That’s it for now. Hopefully I'll check back in from Belgium with great news!
Heiko Schaffartzik - Berlin
Monday, September 26, 2011