PILSEN (FIBA U17 World Championship for Women) - One of a number of exciting young Slovak Republic players who have emerged in recent years, Veronika Remenarova is showing her qualities as her nation debuts at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women.
The rising star took time out from her schedule in Pilsen to talk to FIBA.com about her progress treading the boards, her team-mates and what she gets up to away from the court.
FIBA.com: What are your emotions after the first two days?
Remenarova: I think winning the first game against Mexico was necessary, although it wasn't easy because it was our very first game at this event. We started a little bit nervously and impatiently, but then after half-time, we tried to find our rhythm on offence and also in defence. We laughed at a journalist saying 'Slovakia threw a defensive blanket on their opponent' and I can truly agree since our defence and rebounding was quite good. With due respect, we expected Australia would be a stronger team than they were. During the whole match we played a tight game and while we lost, our performance on court was the best since we have played together.
FIBA.com: This next game against Japan always looked on paper as the most important of the group stage?
Remenarova: Definitely, because if we win, we can take second place in the group. It's hard to say what we expect. Playing against Japan you have to expect anything. They have a unique style of basketball and I think their main motto could be 'run and shoot - again and again!' I hope we will be able to prevent them from taking too many three-point shots. I think our main keys will be rebounding, discipline in our offense and good transition defense, because they run forward really quickly.
FIBA.com: Congratulations on your first full senior season with MBK Ruzomberok playing in EuroCup Women. What did you learn from this experience and especially playing Dynamo Kursk?
Remenarova: Thanks! I learned so many things I could tell you all about them all night long! I learned to solve situations differently and that sometimes playing fearlessly is the best you can do. In that game (against Kursk) my hands were shaking from the start, but when I came onto the court it all disappeared. I hit my first three-pointer and felt a lot more comfortable. Even though we lost, it was an honour to play against players like Candice Dupree, Seimone Augustus and Natalia Vodopyanova. Off the court I learned that being the youngest member of team is not easy. But my team-mates were nice to me, so I didn't feel the age difference among us too much and they tried helping me on court. I had so many great memories from this past season, it's hard to tell you all the best ones!
FIBA.com: What parts of your game are your working on?
Remenarova: This summer I really want to improve my shooting percentage, solve pick and roll situations, finish my lay-ups and improve my ball-handling. Sometimes I am a little afraid of dribbling full-court, because I'm not such a good ball handler and I don't like so much pressure on my personality while playing with ball. I can do a lot better than I do now though.
FIBA.com: You were the youngest player called into senior Slovakia national team by Maros Kovacik recently. What was your reaction and maybe you can follow the likes of fellow teenagers Barbora Balintova and Zofia Hruscakova?
Remenarova: This was the surprise of the season for me. I arrived at the locker room and my team-mates said: "Where is the cake?" I didn't understand as it wasn't my birthday. Then they told me I had been called up. I was like "you have to be kidding me?". It got me thinking that one day I will be very proud to be a senior team player. Both are really talented and hard-working girls, especially Zofia, who is only 19, but already one of the best shooters in our senior national team. I think young players like them are the future.
FIBA.com: Tell us about you away from the court.
Remenarova: I relax at home, go to the spa or swim. I like books, films, shopping and regular activities. My perfect weekend would be cheering at a football game with my friends and then at some party or gig on the Saturday night time. I would chill with my family on Sunday, maybe visit my grandparents. My secret talent (which is not secret anymore) is that I can forget anything, anywhere! Trust me - my purse at a railway station or shoes on a bus. I have good sense of humour, although probably use too much bad language, I am very conscientious regarding school but also a rebel and I don't like rules. I fall in love easily and my room is messy 24/7. Food is also number one in my life - no I'm joking about that last one!
FIBA.com: Finally, tell us about you and your team-mates in Pilsen!
Remenarova: The loudest? Every day it is a different person. One day it can be me, then Lucia Striesova or Ema Mihaljevicova who is definitely the craziest of the team!! You just look at her crazy face and you have to laugh. I think we all have good music taste, because we made our own playlist composed of songs which we all like. The best fashion sense probably has to be our captain Laura Horvathova. We also have a cool team motto - "Do we love a dessert? Yes, we do!"
photo Getty Images