Slovenia look future proof with rising star Sivka
DEBRECEN (Slovenia) - It didn't take long for Slovenia to make a splash on their FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup debut and the centerpiece of a fairytale first win was the stellar talented Ajsa Sivka.
Expected to be one of the stars to watch in the tournament ahead of the curtain being raised in Sopron, Sivka met expectations by racking up 20 points in an incredibly exciting 87-80 overtime success against Australia.
"MY IDOLS ARE ZALA FRISKOVEC AND TEJA OBLAK. I THINK THEY ARE SUCH GOOD PLAYERS... I LOVE WATCHING THEM PLAY."
- Ajsa Sivka
Some eyebrows had been raised at Slovenia's sky-high top 6 spot in the pre-tournament Power Rankings and also because they are by far the lowest team in the FIBA World Ranking presented by NIKE for girls competing in the competition.
But they justified the pre-comp hype with their dazzling debut victory and Sivka was delighted that Slovenia showed the world they've got game.
"It's unbelievable to win because it was such a big game for us," she enthused.
"I think we did a very good job and we had a very good game. There were a lot of things on and off the court that helped us. We really have a lot of discipline and it just felt like it was always going to be our game to win."
Sivka added: "I think we are a very small country and other nations might not know who we are, but I think we will show them in this tournament what we are all about."
Slovenia being future proof with rising star ballers like Sivka matters. It matters a lot.
It's only during the last six years that Slovenia has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence. That came via their historic first FIBA Women's EuroBasket appearance in 2017 and then subsequent appearances during 2019 and 2021.
And, they will be co-hosts of the 2023 edition with Israel. So, being able to think about the current momentum continuing in the medium to long-term is super important.
"My idols are Zala Friskovec and Teja Oblak," smiled Sivka when asked about what she would like most about making the step up to that senior team.
"I think they are such good players and I love to play with them when I can and also love watching them play," she added.
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On this current form and trajectory, Sivka may just have an outside shot at calling them her FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 teammates next June.
And, by the time the big tip-off comes next year, Sivka will have had a season building her skills with EuroLeague Women side Beretta Famila Schio. The Italian giants recently swooped for her services, with the youngster having also spent some time with Tony Parker's LDLC ASVEL Feminin.
Now everyone can see why. And, Sivka and Slovenia have only just started rolling on this global adventure.