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June 2017
3 Teja OBLAK (Slovenia)
01/02/2017
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Oblak has the ideal brother in arms

KOSICE (FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017) - When Teja Oblak takes an historical first step at the FIBA EuroBasket Women Final Round, you can expect her biggest fan to understand the pressure an elite level athlete faces and the desire to represent Slovenia with pride and distinction.

PUTTING SLOVENIA ON THE SPORTING MAP
Flying the flag for her country is important to Oblak and she's not the only member of her family whose sporting prowess is putting her nation on the radar.

Her younger brother Jan is a goalkeeper at Spanish soccer juggernauts Atletico Madrid. In fact, he was voted the best goalkeeper in La Liga for 2015-16 and the duo are certainly both making a name for themselves in their respective sporting fields.

Contento por el premio. Gracias a mis compañeros,sin ellos no sería posible. @atleticodemadrid

A photo posted by Jan Oblak (@oblakjan) on


It is something that only strengthens their bond further claims Teja.

"We have very good relationship and I'm very happy that our parents did a great job with our education.

"We always support each other, I'm always watching his games when I have time, and he also accompanies me.

"We haven't played one-on-one against each other for such a long time – but when we were younger, we played a lot of basketball and soccer against each other.


"However, because we both had a winning mentality, a lot of times we didn't finish our games as we ended up fighting.

"But when we played together, we were so strong," smiled the Kranj native, as she now looks to log another exciting chapter in the Oblak family album.

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
It hasn't all been smooth for Oblak though. Rewind to 2012 and it was a painful time as her dreams of reaching a EuroBasket Women Final Round went up in smoke.

Instead of looking forward to competing at FIBA EuroBasket Women 2013 in France, she was left nursing a serious injury which sidelined her in the middle of qualification and knocked Slovenia out of their stride.

Fast forward to 2017 and Oblak has not only developed into a leading European playmaker, but can now look forward to her dreams coming true as she contemplates an historic Final Round appearance with Slovenia.

That is if she can stop pinching herself in disbelief at what happened in Celje last November when they punched their ticket.

"Oh my god, it was an amazing evening and night - I can't even describe all the emotions that went through my mind [when we qualified]." 

Slovenijaaaaaa🇸🇮🇸🇮🇸🇮#eurobasketwomen2017

A photo posted by Teja Oblak (@tejaoblak3) on


"It was really an unbelievable happiness and especially for our veterans Maja Erkic and Sandra Pirsic who had been waiting for it to happen for such a long time.

"It's great that they can now say they have finally reached a EuroBasket Women tournament after all those years of hard work.

"It's true that we had such bad luck in past. We were 4-0 at the beginning of qualification [in 2012] and then I tore my ACL," continued Oblak.

"What happened, happened and I couldn't change it. A lot of times in life you can say 'what if it hadn't happened', but I it's never worth thinking this way.

"It's sport, so it's a component part of it. In the end, it made me stronger, so this is the positive way to think about it.

"And eventually, we did make history for Slovenian basketball by qualifying for the first time and I think our younger teams will also be very thankful for that."

Zmagaaaaa! Sanje so uresničene, Slovenija je uvrščena na evropsko prvenstvo! 😎🎉👍🇸🇮❤️

A photo posted by Košarkarska zveza Slovenije🏀🇸🇮 (@kzs_si) on



DESTINATION PRAGUE
While Oblak and her colleagues are bracing themselves for a Final Round baptism of fire after drawing reigning champions Serbia and 2015 runners-up France - along with Greece, the confidence is clearly still flowing from their successful qualification campaign.

She said: "Sure, I think our group is very hard. We have drawn the last champion and vice-champions, while Greece also have some very experienced players.

"But, we don't have anything to lose, so we will be relaxed and will try to do our best.

"My wish is to advance to the next phase and as we have a good chemistry in the team, anything is possible, so we just have to believe in ourselves."

ON THE RISE WITH KOSICE
Oblak has not just emerged as a great leader for her country, but also at club level, where she has been a driving force behind Good Angels Kosice landing in the EuroCup Women Round of 8.

Although it has been a roller-coaster at times, the 26-year-old is relieved to have dumped out French League leaders Flammes Carolo Basket in dramatic circumstances.

Glad that we did it💪,round of 8 here we are #eurocupwomen #goodangles#bigstep#teamwork 😇

A photo posted by Teja Oblak (@tejaoblak3) on


"After the first leg at home when we won by 19 points, we all knew that it was not going to be easy to hold the result in France.

"We went into the game only thinking about winning it and at the end, we were happy even though we lost [by 14 points] – advancing to the Round of 8 was all that mattered.

"EuroCup Women really means a lot for us, because the Slovak League is not very strong and so we're super happy to be continuing."

Oblak will step out in the EuroCup Women Round of 8 against VBW CEKK Cegled, with the first leg n Kosice on Thursday 09 February and the return game a week later.

FIBA