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Surrey Heat basketball player Caylin Raftopoulos on his perfect Surrey weekend

PUBLISHED: 13:13 15 March 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 15 March 2013

Caylin Raftopoulos can usually be found in the thick of the action at a Surrey Heat basketball match

Caylin Raftopoulos can usually be found in the thick of the action at a Surrey Heat basketball match

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At five foot eight, Caylin Raftopoulos, the 20-year-old son of Surrey Heat’s head coach, may look dwarfed by the other basketball players on court, but his speed and accuracy have made him a firm favourite. This is his first season as a player for the British Basketball League (BBL) team, and he is certainly one to watch for the future...

I live in Deepcut with my mum, dad and 10-year-old brother, having returned from the USA where I went to High School and combined my focus on education with a huge amount of training and practice in basketball.

It’s great being in Surrey – it’s normally easy to get around without being stuck in traffic and it feels quite laid-back. During the week, I train three times with my Surrey Heat teammates at ACS Cobham and I also go to Surrey Sports Park in Guildford three times a week to work out in the gym with personal trainers and focus on my strength and conditioning.

Our home games at Surrey Sports Park are normally on Sunday afternoons, which means that I have to use the weekends to focus and prepare myself for the challenge ahead. After training on Friday evening, I have a good meal at home, usually rice or pasta. I spend Saturday relaxing at home, to get my mind and body ready for the following day. I relax by watching sport on TV – basketball, if it’s on, or football, as I’m a huge Manchester United fan. I also enjoy playing FIFA 13 on Xbox.

If there is any video footage available of the team who we will be playing the following day, I watch that too, so that I can learn as much about them and their style of play as possible. I’m always in bed by around 10pm and wake up at about 9am the following morning to have a big breakfast. I don’t like eating much before a game so breakfast is key on game day.

The Heat is on…

I head to Surrey Sports Park at around 1pm and warm up with the other players. Tip off is at 3pm, and although there’s a lot of entertainment happening on the court during the game – such as amazing dancing from Heat Street 13 and larking around from the team’s mascot, Scorcher – I don’t pay attention to that part. I keep my focus on the game.

This is the first professional club I’ve played for and I’m really loving my time on court – the home crowd gives us so much support. My biggest achievement so far for the Heat has been playing for a 20-minute period during the game against Leicester Riders, who were undefeated at that point. Despite the fact that two of the key Heat players were injured, we broke Leicester’s unbeaten record and I played a key role by scoring nine points in a relatively short period of time.

After a game, I go out for a meal in Guildford or Woking with some of the Heat players – hopefully to celebrate a win. We all like going to Nandos or TGIs. We certainly attract attention when we are out together – normally because I’m with quite a few guys who are over six foot tall. I always get asked, “Aren’t you a bit short to play basketball?” I may be five foot eight, but I am very nimble. I think of it as an advantage – opponents often underestimate me and then are surprised by how fast I can be.

When we don’t have a home game, I often do basketball coaching and have recently been coaching five to seven-year-olds at Woking Leisure Centre. I started playing basketball from the age of six and I hope to inspire other youngsters. I think it’s also good for them to realise that you don’t need to be tall to succeed in basketball. You need to practise a lot, keep fit – and love the game!

For further details about the Surrey Heat and their list of fixtures, visit surreyheat.com

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