Youth Croatian champion Nina Novak makes dreams come true

Gepubliceerd op 22 september 2023 om 08:00

It was a really special summer for the 18-year-old basketball player Nina Novak. She is playing basketball at ZKK Tresnjevka 2009 in Zagreb, and last summer she reached the gold medal with the national under 18 team of Croatia the championship at the FIBA European Tournament in de B division. She was the captain of the team. It was a summer she will never forget! Photo: FIBA Europe

“I definitely can’t live without basketball”

It is all basketball now for Nina. She can’t imagine something else. “Before I started playing basketball, I used to do some other sports,” Nina explains. “I started to love basketball because of the teammates that have become great friends of me. I definitely can’t live without basketball; I just love it! During my vacation it kind of start to feel empty by not playing basketball.”

Her biggest idols

There are some people that are pretty important to Nina. Those are Former basketball players, but also people close to her. “Kobe Bryant is my biggest idol! I have always loved to see him work hard when I was younger, and I still admire his mentality of becoming one of the best basketball players. I keep on going because of my family and friends, because they all support me. That is also really important to me.”

An amazing time at Tresnjevka

Nina is playing basketball in Zagreb for a while now. The team made it pretty far last season. “Tresnjevka has amazing conditions! It is a good club, because we can practice a lot and make use of all the gym facilities. I have two practices every day, also individual practices. Maintaining my school life and my basketball life is quite a challenge, but a great way to gain more experience. Tresnjevka helps me a lot, and I am so grateful to be part of it!”

Nina is really enthusiastic about her club. It really feels like home to her. She can remember great times! “We were first on the ranking in the competition. After the competition we competed in the play-offs against Ragusa from Dubrovnik, but we lost and ended second on the league. Throughout the season we played multiple times against them. We won a few times, but in the play-offs we lost our captain. The most important thing is the atmosphere and the friendship in the club. I mean, we have a very young team, so it was really amazing that we ended up second. What I think is that we have to gain more experience to reach that kind of stage. It is definitely not impossible!”

Being a Croatian international

Nina is a youth international of Croatia for quite a while now. She has kept growing, also as an international. “In 2019 I was selected in the national team under 14. We played the Slovenia Ball tournament, on unofficially FIBA tournament. We won that tournament, and two years later we went to Spain for the under 16 European Challengers. It was the Challengers because of covid-19, but nevertheless it was amazing! When you play for your country, it feels like a big honor. We are a pretty small nation, so competing at a big tournament is really special: hearing the national anthem and representing your country. That is not something you just do.”

Winning a gold medal

This summer was very special for her and the team. It was great to see them shining and winning the gold medal! “We came to Bulgaria, with the main goal to be the best. That was also our goal the summer before, but last year ended up pretty weird. We lost in the beginning, and our chemistry wasn’t that good. We had a better chemistry, and we knew we could be the best. We worked the whole season long, and we play together more often. That made it feel more comfortable either. We played a strong game against Luxembourg in the finals. I ended up with 21 points, but we made it that far as a team!”

Nothing more than happiness! There is every reason for that! Photos: FIBA Europe

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