29 July, 2017
06 August
15 Jakub Kadasi (SVK)
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Kadasi savoring opportunity to play in Division A in front of home crowd

BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017) - Slovak Republic are truly savoring their moments at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 in Bratislava, with their Division A debut attracting a handsome following at the Hant Arena in the country’s capital and beyond.

For team captain Jakub Kadasi and three more 1999-born players, who laid the groundwork for this to happen by earning qualification at last year's Division B tournament, the occasion is even more special.

"It is a great feeling to play in front of the fans and it is really nice to play in Division  A after proving that we belong here and not in Division B."Jakub KadasiJakub Kadasi

"It is a very big moment for Slovak Republic. I was a part of last year's team that clinched promotion and it means a lot to me to have the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd, in front of our beautiful fans and beautiful country," said the 18-year-old forward.

"I feel butterflies in my stomach. It is a great feeling to play in front of the fans and it is really nice to play in Division A after proving that we belong here and not in Division B."

It would have been hard to imagine a more dramatic way to earn promotion than the route Slovak Republic took last year, when they snatched the ticket to Division A right out of Hungarian hands in the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016, Division B bronze-medal game with a game-winning three-pointer off the glass with just a couple of seconds to spare.

"I remember that game very well. My ex-teammate, Samir Hebibi, he hit the game-winner against Hungary and we won by one point. It is the first time in Slovak basketball history that we got promoted from Division B to Division A. It really was a historic moment," Kadasi recalled.

The only previous time Slovak Republic competed in the top-flight in a youth event came in 1994 at the then European Championship for Men '22 and Under' where they placed last.

However, their short experience at the FIBA U18 European Championship has not got off to the best of starts. In spite of being competitive in Group D, the Slovaks were handed a 78-61 defeat by Latvia in the opening fixture before ultimately falling short 73-68 against Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

"I hope that we are going to improve our game step by step, getting better and better with every game. In the game against Latvia, we did not have game luck; the Latvian team scored a lot of threes and we did not. That’s what we lacked in the game," the always fired-up captain of the team explained.

"Against Bosnia and Herzegovina, our opponents shot 50 percent from the three-point line and we were just at 32 percent, so maybe these little things decided the games. But it is what it is – that’s the game of basketball."

After collecting 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the contest against Latvia, Kadasi was not the best version of himself the following day against Bosnia and Herzegovina but still played with a chip on his shoulder and was the vocal leader of the team on the court.

"I think that’s just my character. I just love basketball and all emotions about the game. It’s just me and everything happening around me on the court," said the player who has linked his future with German Bundesliga club Science City Jena.

"I just want to improve my game every day, step by step. I work hard every day, focusing on my game. The goal is to compete in a European competition one day, but that is far away. I just need to work hard and remain focused."

However, Kadasi and his teammates are now focused solely on goals at the FIBA U18 European Championship, where Slovak Republic have one more game left in the Group Phase against France before the decisive Round of 16 battle for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

"We are going into every game at 100 percent, focusing on little things, every next possession on defense and offense, making good use of the home crowd. I hope they will be there to support us. We’ll just try to do our best and advance to the Quarter-Finals," he looked ahead, hoping for supporters of the national team to fill up the Hant Arena in Bratislava.