Lelik: "We have to be One Team, this is the key"
SOPRON (FIBA U18 Women's European Championship 2016) - Reka Lelik's stellar performances have helped hosts Hungary reach the last eight in Sopron. But she knows that, to beat Russia in the Quarter-Final, she will need the full assistance of her team-mates.
Lelik is starting to show real star potential. The playmaker possesses great size for a point guard, enabling her to double up on the wing and make an impact on the glass.
She showcased her passing ability in the Round of 16 victory over Serbia, delivering 9 assists in the first half on the way to a double-double of 22 points and 11 dishes overall.
But if opposition coaches think that slowing her down will cut off Hungary’s supply line, think again. Talented big Dorka Juhasz scored 20 points in the second half of the last Group Phase match against Croatia, a game in which Agnes Torok notched a near triple-double with 10 points, 13 boards, 8 assists and 3 blocks.
Lelik finished with 13 points in the Croatia match, going a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line to offset a difficult shooting night and foul trouble. And she’s quick to defer credit when asked about being the team's leader: "Most of my team-mates are very talented - we have to be One Team, this is the key."
"I'm more confident now as I've got older - but really, it's not about how I play individually. We have to play well together, that's the most important thing," the star guard emphasises.
Lelik and her team-mates could receive no better inspiration from the bench, with coach Judit Balogh’s staff complemented by the addition of Hungarian national team legend Dalma Ivanyi.
Legendary Hungarian player Dalma Ivanyi has been able to offer guidance to Lelik
Ivanyi has been impressed by the progression of Lelik: "She is such a great talent, and her instincts are really good. She has that killer instinct, because she really steps up at the big moments in the big games, and I think if she continues working hard, she will be a really really good player."
Ivanyi is enjoying the chance to develop her coaching skills through her involvement with the team, and she was delighted to see the level of performance that the team produced in the vital match against Serbia.
"We were really happy that the team understood what it's all about - if we win this game, we're in the top eight. It was the most important game of the championship until now," Ivanyi said. "It was really nice to see that they were mature enough and concentrated enough to put out this kind of performance, which wasn't perfect, because there's no chance that you can be, but definitely we controlled the game… I think from the very beginning, we broke Serbia and we were so much better in every aspect of the game, offence, defence, hustling, thinking - so it was close to perfect."
Now Hungary face a Quarter-Final against the unbeaten Russian team. Taking down the Russians will be difficult but far from impossible, especially with the backing of the enthusiastic home crowd in Sopron.
"I think it's amazing that we are in the top eight in Europe," Lelik said. And with their One Team mentality, the possibility of a first trip to the Semi-Finals at U18 level since 2004 is on the cards.