Derek Raivio (Playing for Sasa Obradovic Made Me A Better Person And Player)

Derek Raivio is a 31 year old 190cm combo guard who is in his ninth professional season and started the season with Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA). He averaged 10,3ppg, 1,5rpg and 5,0apg in the France pro A. He played at Gonzaga from 2003-2007. In his senior year, he played 34 games averaging 18.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.3%, 3Pts: 40.9%, FT: 96.1%. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006. He started his professional basketball career in 2007 with the Cologne 99ers averaging 8.0ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.2apg, 2FGP: 41.2%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT-3(91.7%). He then played for TBB Trier from 2008-2010. In the 2010-2011 season he played for Erie Bay Hawks (D-League): 25 games: 4.9ppg, 1.0rpg, 2.8apg, in March’11 moved to Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League): 13 games: 7.7ppg, 1.8rpg, 4.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 40.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 75.0%. In the 2011-2012 season he played for Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (Japan-BJ League, starting five): 46 games: 18.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT-2(87.4%). He then played two seasons for Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-Ethias League). Last season he played for CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL): VTB United League: 28 games: 6.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 90.0%; Czech Rep. NBL: 25 games: 8.0ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 42.5%, FT: 74.4%; Eurocup: 14 games: 6.2ppg, 1.6apg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 44.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

Derek thanks for talking to German Hoops. You last played for a German team TBB Trier in the 2009-2010 season and since then in countries near Germany like Belgium, Czeck republic and now France. How often have you visited Germany in your free time and was Cologne one of the destinations?

My wife and I really enjoy visiting Germany. We’ve visited Germany many times in our travels. Two of our favorite cities are Munich and Cologne. We like the food and way of life.

At almost age 31 is it not soon time to remain with one team until you end your playing days or do you still like that basketball nomad life well into your 30s?

I’m only 30 at the moment, and turn 31 in a couple of days. My wife and I enjoy the different cultures and nuances of different countries. However, what I´ve learned over my career is if you find a niche you’ve got to stay there and take advantage of it. It can be difficult to find that, so when you do you must not take it for granted.

The season with Sluc Nancy Basket Pro has been tough so far as the team has combined a 1-9 record, 0-6 in the France Pro A and 1-3 in Eurocup. Why has the team started off so slow?

For the most part we are a totally new team. All of our losses have been by a few points. We’re right there, just need a couple breaks to go our way.

The club really has very talented players and a fine mix of young and old. Is the chemistry still lagging behind a bit?

As I mentioned, we are a new group. We are still trying to find what works best for us.

The club seems to have a limited roster as well as you play with a 8 man rotation so far in the France pro A. Is depth missing?

I’m not sure about that. That is a possibility, Even with what we have we’ve shown we have the potential. We just need to put a full game together.

The club can put up points with 83 per game in the France pro A, but is giving up 90 points on defense. Is the effort to defend lacking at the moment?

We as players stress to each other that this is a place we need to improve. Its a long season and we will continually work on that aspect.

What exactly is your role with Nancy and what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away?

My role is to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. To make plays for my teammates and myself. I think I’m a better passer then given credit for. When I was in Belgium I was the leading scorer and top in assists both years. Before I got injured I was top 2 in assists in the French league.

What part of your game do you feel has grown the most over the past 5 years? Something you actually do better now than then.

My decision making, patience, and make plays for others.

Last season you won your first league title as a professional with Nymburk. What made this team so special and was the pressure to have to win as big as you have ever felt as a professional?

We had a good group of guys. National team players and foreigners. No this wasn’t the most pressure I felt. We were expected to win though.

You played two seasons with Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-Ethias League) winning a Super Cup title. You have played with many characters in your career, but how did John Tofi enrich your life on and off the court?

John Tofi is one of the best teammates I’ve played with. He’s always positive and encouraging. Also one of the funniest people I know. My first year in Aalst was the closest team I’ve been a part of in my European career. Which is a pre cursor to success. Myself, Ryan Thompson, Jason Clark, Larry Anderson and Tofi are still in contact to this day. That was a special year.

You had your D-League experience playing with the Erie Bay Hawks and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League). What did you like about the D-League and what really turned you off from this experience?

I liked the competition. I didn’t like the travel, and lack of NBA involvement.

You played two seasons with Chris Copeland with TBB Trier. Two years later he reached the NBA. Did you ever have a thought in your two years there that he might reach the NBA so late in his professional career?

I wasn’t surprised. He always had an urge to learn and improve. He was prepared for his opportunity and earned it.

As a rookie you played with Cologne with so many amazing players. When you look back now and remember with whom you played with what kind of a feeling do you get? Is there a player that you especially still have in your thoughts who helped you get a feel of everything on and off the court?

Yes we were loaded. Still to this day that was the most talented team I’ve played with in Europe. We had a load of good players come through there. It wasn’t a player who helped me or taught me the most, it was the coach; Sasa Obradovic. I was a rookie and new to European basketball. It took me some time to adjust to basketball and living in Europe. Playing for Sasa made me a better person and player. He knows how to push the players buttons and get the most out of them. There were may times were I was angry/ frustrated; however, looking back those were valuable learning lessons I still carry. He was very demanding, and we practiced very hard. He taught me a lot.

Stephan Baeck predicted very early that Tibor Pleiss would go places. But what was your overall impression of the tall lanky player who was an 18 year old kid when you were his teammate. Could you ever have imagined that he would be in the NBA now?

Yes, it’s not a surprise to me. He was young then, but you could see the talent and fire to get better.

You won the WCC Tournament each year with Gonzaga. Which one meant the most to you?

My senior year.

Who won a one on one at Gonzaga you or Jeremy Pargo?

lol. We haven’t played for a while maybe a couple summers ago. It goes back and forth.

Does Alando Tucker ever break out some NBA stories or does he entertain you in other ways?

Alando is a character, and a great guy. He’s got a lot of stories, he’s always keeping the mood light.

Who wins a one on one in practice you or Moris Curry?

I’ve never played Mo 1 V 1. He’s a good player.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Everest.

Thanks Derek for the chat.

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