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EuroLeague Women is the future for Croatian diamond Muhl
UDINE (FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2018) – Nika Muhl is a name on everybody’s lips at the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2018. That is without her having even hit top gear for Croatia.
Spend a few minutes watching the playmaker at work and you will find yourself turning to the person next to you and giving an approving nod of the head. No more words necessary.
For those who didn’t see her at U16 last summer or tear it up in the WABA league last season, they’re realizing Croatia have a true diamond in their hands and that Muhl is a future EuroLeague and FIBA Women's EuroBasket star in the making.
A love of EuroLeague Women; Inspiration from Moore
As with many of the best players of every generation, Muhl is going to have an array of offers from both sides of the Atlantic.Whether she opts to go straight into the pro-game or make an NCAA detour, it is EuroLeague Women which will be her ultimate destination.
“Honestly? I like watching EuroLeague Women more than the men’s EuroLeague,” revealed Muhl.
“I love watching the best players trying to out-perform each other and this is still my biggest dream. Maya Moore is the one that I really adore, since she makes all the complicated things look so easy.”
While the likes of reigning EuroLeague Women champion Maya Moore are an inspiration, Muhl can also draw on some expert advice in her quest to tread the FIBA Women's EuroBasket boards too.
Learning from a Croatian legend
Her pending transition to the senior national team ranks would see her handed an opportunity by play-caller Anda Jelavic – a legend of Croatian women’s basketball.
She certainly knows a thing or two about orchestrating the plays in EuroLeague Women and on the international stage.
"Having a national team coach with so much playing experience at the guard position is a very special thing," enthused Muhl.
"Every player has a dream to play for the national team and mine is no different. I will keep working hard and wait for this dream to come alive."
Weight of expectation and overriding desire to compete
As she finds herself at the center of the radar tracking European rising stars, Muhl is going to have to get used to dealing with an ever-growing weight of anticipation.
👀👀👀Seriously....Nika Muhl what a talent and @fiba rising star! 🇭🇷— Paul Nilsen (@basketmedia365) February 18, 2018
QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE in 17 minutes 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
10 points, 10 steals, 10 rebounds and 1⃣7⃣ assists in an U17 game in Croatia. Wow. pic.twitter.com/RqLsZF1OpC
Although this is nothing particularly new, since she has already had plenty of plaudits due to some seriously crazy numbers last season.
"At the end of the day, I love to see so many positive reactions from people and it is a big indicator for me that I’m on the right track," stated the guard.
"It makes me happy and proud of the work I put in, but I’m also very aware of how much more energy and work I still need to put in. I am never really fully satisfied with my play and that is also something that pushes me forward."
Many observers of Muhl have been impressed with the fact that while she can score, she is most definitely a pass-first player who loves assists and steals. She is also eager to win the mental and physical challenge, which is driven from her intense passion for the sport.
She revealed: "I played lots of other sports before I went to my first basketball practice and I fell in love with it immediately. My parents both played basketball and that helped a bit too.
"I kept playing it because it became the most enjoyable part of my life. I have been playing point guard for the last three years, and I think I have definitely found my character in this position, by being able to control the game and passing the ball around.
"In fact, I don't know if I could really be the person who I am without basketball," added Muhl.
"It means so much to me because I can express my own character on the court and learn the good and bad things about myself – as well as trying to improve as a player, and as a person. I really do love competing a lot."
Basketball is certainly in the DNA of the Muhl family, since Nika has her younger sister Hana on her tail and looking to emulate her accomplishments.
"The best way to describe our on-court relationship is with a cat and dog analogy," smiled the playmaker.
"We haven't spent much time on the court together, but I can say we are totally different characters and players. Her shooting form is much better than mine already and I love giving her advice on how to improve her game.
"I can't tell you how it will be when we play 1v1 with each other when we are both adults, since I think she is so scared of playing against me! I am just kidding and I’m sure she will be great contender in a couple of years," laughed Muhl.
"What is important is that off the court, we are best friends and I love to be a sister that she can look up to, she can count on, and one that will always take care of her."
Time to deliver in Udine
As for her current assignment in Udine, there is plenty of work still to be done.
"We have worked very hard this summer, and my hopes are big towards our team, since I think we have something special in this generation. Positive energy both on and off the court and a great team spirit can take us to a high place. But, we have to be fully concentrated and give our maximum in every second of the game.
"Both the coaches and players are very committed to this and we all have just two goals: to proudly represent our country and give 100 percent in each game. We will see at the end how far this will take us, and my only individual goal is to make my team better in every aspect of the game."
Yes, words already spoken like a veteran floor general and yet more evidence of why Muhl can become the jewel in Croatia's crown for many years to come.