Marija Nikolov has shown a lot of basketball potential this summer

Gepubliceerd op 16 juli 2023 om 12:00

During the FIBA Basketball Women’s Under 18 European Championship, the 18-year-old Marija Nikolov came out for the national team of North Macedonia. It was not the first time that she came in action for the national team. The way she scores and put in her effort is amazing, and a really big help for every possible basketball club! Marija has shown a lot of talent in the past couple of years, and knows what it is to work hard and reach a championship stage! Photo: FIBA Europe

Team chemistry, one of the important things of basketball

Basketball runs into her family. Marija’s dad played basketball when she was young. “He played all around North Macedonia, and he is the chairman of a basketball club in my hometown,” Marija says. “That club is established when I was born, 18 years ago. I started playing there, and later on I moved on to play professionally.”

Marija understands what one of the most important element is in basketball: playing as a team, work hard as a team and win as a team. “Basketball is a team sport. You don’t think about yourself, or let me say: there is no I in the word ‘team’. Though you can play a strong game, you have chances to win and to makes special moments possible only as a team. That is one of the reasons that I love basketball a lot. Besides, you have chances to go abroad and meet new people from other countries and you can see more of the world.”

She knows what it is to get better

Marija is an amazing basketball talent of North Macedonia. Her basketball skills are very useful for every team she is part of. “I am a pretty good scorer, not really a shooter but a good driver. I can also feel great about giving a nice assist or stop my opponent by working really hard in defense.”

“I have spent a lot of hours in the gym and during practices”

Her talent has grown in the past few years. She made that happen, on a very beautiful way. “One of the benefits that I have is that I ran a lot when I was young. That is for me a big benefit in defense. Furthermore, I trained and worked hard. I have spent a lot of hours in the gym and during practices. Those are important things if you want to get better, and be better every day.”

Talking about getting better every day; Marija looks up to some basketball players. They also know what it is to reach different kinds of special stages. “From the women’s competition, I really look up to Julie Vanloo. She is really nice, and I love her passion and how she plays basketball with her heart. In the men’s competition I really like to see Vasilije Micić playing. He played five years for Anadolu Efes in Istanbul, and will join the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA.”

Being a champion

Badel 1862 was the first club where Marija got minutes in the senior league. She also won the under 18 title, and became the MVP. “I was only 15 years old,” Marija remembers. “I was one of the best times as well, with my teammates and the coaches.”

In the past two seasons, Marija has built up an amazing basketball career. She has been making memories she will never forget. “I felt really honored, that the coach has seen some potential in me,” Marija explains when she thinks about the time she played at her KAM Basket for the first time (two years ago). “He gave me minutes in the senior league, and I really excited about that. I showed my qualities as good as I could, and it has been worked out successful. With KAM Basket we won a lot of different prices. Two seasons ago we won the cup, and last season we won the Super Cup and the championship. It was great, especially last season. I played the most minutes in the league, and I felt like I was contributing something to the team. Besides, we also won the championship with the under 18 of KAM Basket. I was the MVP in that competition. It has been a really nice feeling!”

Playing as an international

Since 2021 Marija has been playing a FIBA tournament for the national team of North Macedonia. A first time or moment is always a special one. “It is a very big honor to play for your country. You have to use your brain, and need to know how you are supposed to play against other countries in Europe.”

FIBA Women’s Under 16 Challengers

Marija had good times with the under 16 team of North Macedonia in 2021. Those are times she will never forget about. “That was when the coronavirus was still a big problem in the world. We were only in our rooms, go out and play basketball and sleep after that; those were the only thing we did. We won with North Macedonia the championship of the challengers, and that was wonderful! We had a very good chemistry, and we play like one, and I think that’s why we won.”

Photo: FIBA Europe

Under 18 this year; with a win against Norway

Also this summer she came out for the national team. Her input is very important for the team. “I fought hard during every game; it doesn’t matter if that is at the national team or at KAM Basket. We won one game during this year’s under 18 tournament, and that was amazing! I twisted my ankle during the game against Croatia, so I couldn’t play against Denmark. The next game, I begged my coach to get back on the court again. It felt so special to win against Norway. We made our country proud with our win!”

Whatever Marija wants to accomplish during her career, she will be successful in every possible way. She has so many talent and opportunities, and her potential could lead her wherever she wants! Photo: FIBA Europe

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