Basketball is most certainly not the most popular sport in Australia. In fact, it is so far behind that it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it an afterthought even for most hardcore sports fans here. Still, there are some popular athletes that have made it to the big leagues of the NBA. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be too difficult for anyone talented and devoted enough to the sport to make their way to the boomers (Australia’s National Basketball Team) and play next to some greats such as Ben Simmons or Matthew Dellavedova.

But that doesn’t seem to be the way 16-year-old Paul Tsapatolis wants to go about things. Having already played at the under-16 level in Australia, Paul says that he would like to try his luck at a higher level.

“I was going to play for Greece, I got asked by the coach, but I had already been selected by Australia so I wasn’t able to. But I love Greece, I’m absolutely in love with it, the culture, everything. So I’m looking forward to playing with Greece in the next age group,” said the young athlete whose skills have already been recognised by Basketball Victoria through the “Junior Athlete of the Year” award.

He was also on the receiving end of another invitation, this time from one of the most important clubs in Greece: “I had kept contact with an agent called Tasos. I knew him through a mutual friend. And he told me that Olympiacos were interested in me and that they would give me a call to organise the flights, etc.But on the day they were about to book the flight, I broke my foot so I wasn’t able to go. And since then I’ve been busy with the Victoria team, national performance programs and I haven’t been able to go back over,” Tsapatolis said, adding that he plans to try again this Easter.

Paul Tsapatolis began his basketball career at the young age of seven at his local club in Werribee, the Hoppers, before making the move to the Melbourne Tigers, where he remains until today.

He joined Australia’s efforts at last year’s U16 Asia Championship where they won the trophy, defeating China 91-67 in the final.

Tsapatolis, who plays as a centre, averaged 1.3 points and 0.5 assists for while playing 7.5 minutes per game.

But he claims to be more of a follower of European basketball, as he prefers the more technical way the game is played there: “I love the Euroleague. I follow it more than the NBA. I hope that one day I can play next to some legends like Spanoulis,” he said.

Proud of his Greek heritage, Tsapatolis spends most of his free time in Oakleigh with friends where he was recently converted into a tennis fan.
“I went to his (Tsitsipas) game against a Serbian player (Troicki) with my cousin. We got interviewed by Eurosport.

They asked us “what do you think about Greece and the culture?” and I said to them that all of our passion comes from our history, since we’ve got so much of it as a country and no matter where you look at it from, when one person does well the others will rush to support him no matter what”.

Additionally, Tsapatolis claims to have been inspired by Tsitsipas in the way he remains humble despite his success.

Whether Paul Tsapatolis does go on to become successful in Europe with Olympiacos and the Greek national team or continues to reach greater heights in Australia, it’s always great to see young Greek athletes such as him and Tsitsipas make their way to success.