Hard work continues to pay for Big V star Platenik

There’s a good chance that, unless you’re a part of the ever-growing Big V basketball community, you probably haven’t heard of Waverley Falcons power forward Ivan Platenik.

If you’re a Big V fan, player, coach or manager, it’s almost certain that you would have.

The 6 foot 7 veteran has consistently been in league MVP and All-Star Five conversations for over a decade, but it hasn’t always been that simple for the slimly built and unconventional Platenik.

"As a junior I was very small and never got picked for any teams, but when I was sixteen I grew about 30 centimetres in a year.

"I moved to Eltham and was given a chance to play in the ABA (what is now Big V), and then a year later I moved to Waverley.

"In one of the games at the pre-season tournament I got lucky, one of the guys got injured so I got subbed in and played really well.

"By the end of the season I was starting so everything went from there."

Since then, Platenik has made a name for himself by being a picture of consistency, with a 20+ point, 10+ rebound night all but a given every time he steps out on the floor.

His style has been described as unconventional, and his ability to draw fouls and continue to score in almost any situation has made him impossible to guard at times.

Over the years, and despite being humble and quiet off the court, his sustained success and style of play has seen him develop a reputation as a player who oppositions love to hate.

"I think I just work hard and have been pretty hard to stop, I guess, so maybe people don’t like me in that sense.

“Coaches have tried different things and when they don’t seem to work I guess they get upset, and obviously players get upset if you keep scoring on them.”

Credit: Big V Media

His success in Australia saw him head to US College, playing for Division Two side University of Alaska-Anchorage during the 2006-07 season, helping him further his development.

“The standard of coaching in college is a lot more intense than in Big V, it’s a lot tougher and in your face.”

Whilst starting 27 of a possible 28 games, Platenik averaged 8.9ppg and shot the ball at an impressive 54%, with a career-high of 23 points.

Platenik has also spent time in Croatia over the Australian summer between 2011 and 2014, most recently suiting up for Division One side KK Pozega in the 2013/14 European season.

“The European system is more structured and a lot more physical, and some of the top sides are really good.

“We had training every day, sometimes twice a day, making it much more intense and tougher when it’s opposed to twice a week over here.”

Now into his fourteenth season in Big V, Platenik has played more than 250 games and continues to be one of the premier stars in a league that doesn’t always garner the respect it deserves.

While SEABL continues to attract the bigger names and grab most of the headlines over winter in Victoria, the Big V State Championship competition has been steadily improving in quality and entertainment over the past few seasons.

In fact, many State Championship clubs in both the men’s and women’s divisions have mixed it with their SEABL counterparts over the 2015 pre-season in practice matches, showing the growth in quality and depth of the league.

A number of NBL and WNBL stars have graced the Big V hardwood in recent times, with the likes of Cam Tragardh, Daniel Johnson, Daryl Corletto, Tommy Greer, Rhys Carter, Adrien Sturt, Mike Rose, Brigitte Ardossi, Tegan Cunningham, Hannah Zavecz, Sharin Milner and Katrina Hibbert, among others, all plying their trade within the last decade.

However, when the big guns come to town, Platenik simply works even harder on his game, gets fitter and sees off the challengers.

When the Eltham Wildcats assembled a star-studded line-up that included Tragardh, Greer and Sturt for the 2011 season, it was Platenik who took it them, eventually leading his Falcons past their more fancied opponents in two games in the grand final series.

Coincidently, Platenik was crowned Finals MVP for his stellar performances in both games, which he capped with a dagger elbow jumper over hands in the final minute of game two to clinch the title.

“Winning that finals series against Eltham, when we were massive underdogs against all these top NBL players, was a really big achievement.

“Obviously getting the MVP for the finals series was also a massive achievement for me, but nothing beats winning a championship.”

Adding to his 2011 Finals MVP, Platenik was named the Big V Youth Player of the Year in 2004, and has claimed multiple Big V Scoring (2011, 2012, 2013) and Rebounding (2010, 2011, 2012) titles.

Last season, he received his first All-Star Five selection at the Forward position after coming so close on so many occasions previously.

“I’ve been sort of striving to be an All-Star for ten years, so that was a major highlight for me.”

Credit: Big V Media

Despite single seasons at Eltham (2002) and Diamond Valley (2006), Platenik has found a home at Waverley – a club that has been as loyal to him as he has been to them during his twelve seasons with the Falcons.

“The club means everything to me, I’ve been there for such a long time and have such a great relationship with everyone, especially Mike (Bullock, Waverley General Manager), who has been like a father to me really.

“I’d give anything for the club, and I’ve had offers elsewhere since I came back but I’m loyal to them now and I love playing for them.

“It’s my home now, and I’ll play there until I finish up.”

The Falcons, both in the men’s and women’s leagues, have been perennial forces in recent years and it seems they are in fantastic shape to give the competitions another shake this season.

“Obviously the women have recruited Carly (Mijovic) and Tegan (Cunningham) is still there, so I think they’ll be one of the top teams this season, they just have to get things right when it matters in the finals.

“It’s similar to us, we’ve wanted a five-man for the past five or six years and now we have that in Chris Cameron, and he brings leadership to the group as well which will help us out in the tough games.

“There’s us, Corio Bay and Ringwood and a couple of other teams that are coming up, so I think it comes down to who can get it done for the finals.

“I think we are close to the benchmark, we just need to play together and get it done.”

The Big V pre-season tournament will be held over the Labour Day Long Weekend at Dandenong Basketball Stadium, before the season proper kicks off a week later on March 14th.

To find your local club’s fixtures and results, and to keep up to date with all the league news and information over the season, head to www.bigv.com.au or click here.