It has been a long time since the glory days and big success of Greek Women’s Basketball. Our National Team clinched fifth place at the European Championship. This achievement grants us free entrance to the World Championship of 2010 as well as European Championship of 2011. As a result, we can relax and take a moment to explain some of the facts that got us where we are today. Without doubt a good team consist of many good players. Each player is special and has a specific role on the court but let it be known that the lead scorer will be the player that steps up the level of the team. In a tournament in Italy, before the Eurobasket of 2009, the head coach of Serbia said to me, “it is unbelievable the way some of your players perform when they play with the National team, not only do they play better but they play 500% better…you have this player Maltsi who for me is the Michael Jordan of European Women’s Basketball…”. Although I smiled respectfully and have great respect for Coach Antonic as a coach and a person, a friendship of many many years, his statement at the time seemed exaggerated and tortured my mind. However, today, I can say Coach Antonic was right! Evina Maltsi’s achievements can remind us of none other than the legend Michael Jordan. Back in the day, Jordan was the NBA’s leading scorer exactly as Evina is in our league today. Again like Michael, Evina succeeds as the leading scorer without pursuing it and never bringing anything bad to her team. Back in the day the American superstar took his team by the hand and captured titles, much like Evina’s ability to lead our National team to capture the title of 5th place at this years Championship, making the rest of his non-famous teammates perform 500% better than their abilities--Does this remind you of someone? At the same time Michael Jordan was voted best defender of the NBA. I must say I am so proud of our team and our defense. Our team worked excellent together and stats show our National Team as the best defensive team in the European championship, however I can not personally vote any one player as the best defender. But these same stats show Evina Maltsi as leading in steals as well!!! I consider this a unique and unbelievable thing. The fact that a player can be the leading scorer and first in steels in a big tournament, is what I consider the best athlete and player. Jordan was the NBA’s most valuable player as was Maltsi . All journalists voted her this title except one, I want to find this guy and ask him why and decertify his sports license.
People know a lot about Maltsi based on what they read but the most inspiring character traits about Evina you can not read about. Many people say “basketball MAKES character” I believe it not only makes character but REVEALS character. Basketball is a place where you can see the difference between a coward and someone who is mentally strong, has heart, never gives up, and is a true leader. I’m unsure if Evina’s character was built over the years but for sure through basketball she reveals confidence. She has extreme confidence on and off the court. She is a fighter in basketball and in life. Let us not forget when she was young she left her home in Goumenissa and now she is a European superstar. The best thing about Evina is she listens to her coach, always wanting and willing to learn, and observes what you say to her including body language and tone of voice. This makes her a great guard and serves as only a small example of her ability and determination to observe everything going on around her with the intent to learn from it. She is a true leader that vitalizes the spirit of the team and transfers her experience to other players. She is simply a girl that clamps her rules with her personality. Evina’s law on her team is that everybody must give their best and contribute in scoring. Evina’s law to her opponents is to require the whole defense to be centered around guarding her. Evina’s law outside of basketball is to have fun and make everyone’s life around her more beautiful. Evina’s law after a big win is to dance Sirtaki with her teammates at the center of the court. Evina’s law is to promote Greece through her basketball career. Evina’s law was to make the opening ceremony at Euro basket 2009 more “alive”. Evina’s law is fatigue starts in the mind and she will not allow her mind to beat her body. She thinks it is extremely important to encourage her teammates to understand this concept and control their minds as well. Evina’s law says that you must be passionate about everything you do no matter what you do! After a bad game the law of Evina and her teammate Toula Kalentzou (also a great person) is to post their stats outside their door “the room off 3/20 3 point shots”. She has gained the right to put her law everywhere. It is welcome by everybody because she has earned this right based on her personality and value as a player.
In closing, I would like to clarify my intention is not to glorify Maltsi as much as it is to explain the traits that make a great athlete. It just so happens that Evina Maltsi fits this description exactly, it's the perfect example of showing the meaning of the player's personality and character to the road of his progress, and showing how important is to us (as coaches and as parents) to work on it also. The development of player's personality has the same value as the his/her fuel of desire, willingness to progress, an inner fight, and also the ability of knowing who is he as a player and as a person. I have began to see these same traits in Stella Kaltsidou. Stella is the next big hope of another European superstar from Greece. I have slowly began to see these traits in other players of this generation as well.
I know Evina Maltsi very well and I am sure parallelism to Michael Jordan, though flattering, will not make her feel comfortable. I think her law includes making her own name for herself. I think her law makes us looking at her as not anyone other than EVINA MALTSI FROM GREECE.