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Hanga hopes to inspire Hungary this summer
BUDAPEST (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers) – Adam Hanga is the brightest star of contemporary Hungarian basketball and has tasted big success abroad, but still has unfinished business on the international stage.
Like all Hungarian players of his generation, Hanga has never tasted the special atmosphere of a major tournament with the national team, as the central-European nation last played at the Final Round of a FIBA EuroBasket in 1999.
I am looking forward to helping the national team after having missed out on the previous two campaigns - Adam Hanga
The explosive 27-year-old winger hopes that will change this summer, because Hungary can draw on two sources of inspiration prior to entering the qualifying race in FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers Group G, where they will go up against Great Britain, Luxembourg and MKD.
The first is Hanga's willingness to return to the national team this summer and strengthen its qualification bid, hot on the heels of a fantastic individual season at Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The high-flying Hungarian helped the Vitoria side reach the semi-finals of both the Euroleague and the Spanish Liga Endesa.
The Hungarian football team's great performances at UEFA Euro 2016 can serve as an example to us - Adam Hanga
"I will not play in the NBA summer league this year, I feel healthy and I am looking forward to helping the national team after missing out on the previous two campaigns," Hanga said at the press conference for his summer camp for children in his hometown.
"My game underwent a big change this year, before I was primarily a scorer but I learned to pay more attention on defence, on small details, I became a more balanced player. The more games [Baskonia] won, the more appetite it brought us for the next victory."
Quite fittingly, Baskonia's last victory of the season, in the play-off series against FC Barcelona Lassa, came about after Hanga produced arguably the in-bound pass of the year with 0.8 second left on the clock for Greek international Giannis Bourousis to score the winning basket.
Hanga found another source of inspiration this June as, just like his Hungary team-mates and the entire nation, he watched the football national team reach the last-16 of the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, in France. "The football team's great performances can serve as an example to us. If we [the basketball team] stay united and are as well-organised as them, we can also achieve good results," the winger said.
Hungary had played without Hanga in the FIBA EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round and while coach Sztojan Ivkovics's side registered a 4-2 record, they lost the ticket to the big event on points differential.
The Hungarians will commence preparations on 20 July and will play their first warm-up game against Montenegro, on 5 August. Hungary will also take part in a tournament organised by FIBA EuroBasket 2017 co-hosts Romania from 8 to 12 August and then take on Portugal on 20 August. Coach Ivkovics's opener in the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers is at home on 31 August, against Great Britain.