Czech ace Sipova points to team work
PRAGUE (2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship) - While Veronika Sipova led her nation to a historic first title at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship last year, she has insisted it's the team ethic which will carry Czech Republic in Zaragoza.
Sipova was unfortunate to be edged out of the MVP running in Matosinhos, having topped both the scoring and rebounding chart for her country. Yet reflecting on a landmark success, there was nothing that could take the shine off a super achievement.
"My favourite memory was that moment - at the end of the Final, when we had won the game an also the title for the first time," she recalled. "I remember everyone was just so happy from my team-mates, the coaches - absolutely everybody was smiling when we got our hands on the trophy."
Sipova and the Czech Republic team will never forget the moment when they lifted the coveted silverware in Matosinhos last year
"But our success was firstly about team work. We fought together in all of the games and we went step by step. We wanted to be among the eight best teams and when we did that, our goals went higher and higher, before we eventually won!"
With cherished memories of a magical tournament behind her, Sipova is now pumped for her global debut, now that the FIBA U17 Women's World Championship is less than two weeks away.
"I am really looking forward to atmosphere and to all games," said the 17-year-old. "I am wondering how much of a gauge it will be for me and what it means for me in terms of my future career. It will be a tough group with USA, Italy and Korea, but everything is possible.
"We can't go to Zaragoza with only thoughts about how tough it will be to play against USA and that we also lost last year against Italy in the group stage. We have to do everything to do our best on court."
It promises to be an exciting time for Sipova and for Czech basketball.
She doesn't only have Zaragoza to look forward to, but also former EuroLeague Women champions ZVVZ USK Prague vowing to give the teenager and her fellow prospects even more opportunities to gain experience next season, after the powerhouse changed its structure to benefit rising stars.
Opportunity certainly knocks for Sipova and she is trying to use two Czech Republic legends for added inspiration.
"I really liked Eva Viteckova when she played and especially how she controlled her shooting technique," explained Sipova. "And also Hana Horakova because of her point guard skills and how she made any of her teams [into a team] and also enjoyed the game so much."
Finally, there is also another serious major event which every Czech baller is enthused about - including Sipova.
"EuroBasket Women 2017 will be exciting and I'm looking forward to the games and having all the best European stars here in the Czech Republic," she smiled. "I will be there watching on the fans' tribune, for sure."
For now though, it's Sipova's turn to have people watching and admiring her burgeoning skills, when the action gets underway in Spain.