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Exclusive Interview with Levell Sanders - Apr 29, 2009

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Recently completing his ninth season in the Mattoni NBL, veteran guard Levell Sanders (189-G-75, college: Seton Hall) of BK Synthesia Pardubice took some time to speak with me and go over the season, his views on basketball in the Czech Republic as well as what the future may hold. Levell recently had a relative pass away from cancer and we really appreciate his taking the time to answer a few questions. A very level-headed and down to earth guy, Sanders is not only an exceptional point guard, but a genuine person as well and we wish him all the best for his career.

Eurobasket: What kind of feeling was there on the team as you saw your spot in the playoffs slip away?

Levell: I mean, I never thought we wouldn't make the playoffs. I always felt like we were in.

It didn't really sink in until we lost to USK Praha (63-61 road loss on April 9). Then I was like damn we are not going to the playoffs.

Eurobasket: What do you think the main reasons were for the teams poor finish?

Levell: Well I think injuries were our problem all season and also at the end. We had a lot of guys playing hurt at the end of the season and its tough when guys are playing hurt and can't play to their capabilities.

Eurobasket: As one of the veteran star players was this tougher for you to deal with and how do you think your teammates handled the situation?

Levell: Yes I think it was tougher for me to deal with just because I am one of the leaders of the team and when things are going bad, so you are the one usually blamed. This is the nature of the sport, but its tough when you are losing! The other guys took it tough also. I was with those guys everyday in practice and I saw how hard it was for everybody!

Eurobasket: Back to your start, coming out of Seton Hall, you had a very productive career and unfortunately ran up against some of the best Big East talent of all time during your career or else you might have had better team success. After college you stayed in the USA for a year to play in the USBL and then left for Europe...why the wait? What direction did you think your career would go after college?

Levell: Well actually I didn't stay in the USA for a year. I played one game in the USBL and that was in May after my senior season. I left for Europe in August. Unfortunately when I came out of college in 98 the NBA had a lockout. My agent at the time, Andy Miller, asked me if I wanted to stay and wait or go to Europe so I said I wanted to go to Europe. I thought I would play a year in Europe and then get a shot in the NBA but it never worked out.

Eurobasket: So from the greater Metro area to the Czech Republic...what were your first thoughts when you heard about coming to CZ?

Levell: Well at first I went to the map to check out where the place was! I didn't really know what to expect but I knew I would be playing basketball which I love to do and I would get a chance to see another part of the world that I would probably never see if it wasn't for basketball.

Eurobasket: How would you describe the style of play in the Czech Republic? What aspects do you like, what do you think could be better?

Levell: I can't really describe the style of play in Czech; to me its just basketball. Basketball is the same wherever you go. The league is so much better from my first year in 1998. One thing I think that could improve is the referees. I know for sure they have a hard job, but I think the league should make these guys watch the games afterwards so they could review some of the mistakes they make and help correct them. Its just like after the games; most teams watch to see what they can improve or what they did right.
I think this would help the league to become even better.

Eurobasket: You've spent nearly your entire pro career in the Czech Republic, what has been the appeal that has kept you in the country for so long?

Levell: Well the one thing that has kept me here is that the people who I work for want me to be here. I have always had offers after the season was over. I have so many friends asking me why I am still playing in Czech. After every season I have agents that contact me and say they have some other foreign teams that are interested in me, but I see no reason to leave if I am wanted in Czech. When I am not wanted anymore then I will move on, but until that happens so I will probably be playing in Czech. Its a nice place to live and play. I know a lot of guys that left Czech and then you speak to them and they want to come back.

Eurobasket: After another successful year (personally), but not meeting team goals, what is your mindset as the off-season begins?

Levell: Well I want to forget this season as quick as possible cause it was really tough on everybody involved. My mind set is a little different right now because my uncle just died of cancer yesterday so it is really tough on me and my family. But once we get past this I will start to workout in the middle of May. That would give me like one month of rest which is needed and then I will start my off season workout program.

Eurobasket: What are your favorite things about the Czech Republic, personally? What is the toughest part about living here?

Levell: Czech is my second home. I just like the life style. The people really treat me like family. The food is excellent. I love the Babovka, it is something like pound cake. Prague is a beautiful city. The toughest thing about living in Czech is that I am not able to see my family and friends when I want.

Eurobasket: What are your plans for the summer back home and any thoughts about next season on where you will play?

Levell: I don't know what is going to happen next season. Im sure things will work out for the best. My plan for the summer is just to be with my family as much as possible and to let them know how much I love them. Losing my uncle yesterday makes me really appreciate the people that are still here and I want them to know I LOVE THEM!

** By Surujh Roopnarine for


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