”Basketen har definierat mitt liv”

”Basketen har definierat mitt liv”

Hon har spelat ungdomslandslaget för sitt land, och har, genom basketsporten, getts möjligheter som annars inte hade varit inom räckhåll. På frågan om vad basket betyder för henne är svaret att sporten bokstavligen har ”definierat hennes liv”. Möt Valeria ”Valle” Sella – Akropols grekiska guard.

Det är säkert ingen nyhet för någon att Akropol från början var en grekisk idrottsförening, även om klubben sedan dess har utvecklats till något mycket större. Att ett av Akropols nyförvärv inför den här säsongen kommer just från Grekland är därför lite extra speciellt för många i klubben. Notera att intervjun är på engelska.

Describe what basketball means to you…
– Basketball for me is everything. It has literally defined my life. I´ve played 15 years now, five of them professionally and it has been my ticket to a better life since my family was always struggling to keep ends meet. It made it possible for me to live independently since 18 years old without their help. All of my travels, most of the closest people in my life and even my education (scholarship in high school) I owe it to basketball.

This is your first season in Akropol – why did you choose to join the club?
– I was in discussions with Solna when I had a talk with coach Fotis about Akropol. He convinced me to practice with the team before I make a decision. It was a tough call for me because I liked Solna too, but all these people around the team (especially the Greek ones haha) , coach Johny and also my teammates, made me feel like home and made my decision easier.

What are your personal ambitions for this season?
– Only to get better every day and adapt to the playing style of Swedish league and our team in specific so that I can help better. I’ve come to learn that any other higher ambitions will only come through team success and teamwork.

What is your strength as a player?
– I cannot say I’m the player that will be exceptional in one thing because I always work and try to get good at all things so that I can contribute at any circumstances in any position I am asked to. But if I had to choose I would say defence and my shooting have always been my biggest strengths.

What would you like to improve?
– My point guard skills and to have quicker feet for defence. And I have to thank our physiotherapist George Mitsakis at Metropolitan Rehab for helping me with that through our personal trainings!

Who is your role model in life and as a player?
– Nikos Zisis, the captain of our national team. He has been the most humble, hard working and devoted player I’ve seen, putting the team above everything at all times. He has been playing around Europe for over 10 years but he never forgot where he started. I went to the same athletic high school as he did and I will never forget when he was playing in CSKA, he had a break for a few days, came back to Thesaloniki and he came to the school to do his personal shooting training. He is an example for me both as a character and as a player.

Why did you want to play in Sweden?
– Sweden is the third country i’ve played abroad and so far it’s my favorite one. I really like the quality of life here and the mentality in general in many things. Swedish league is developing and and getting stronger which is very important factor for me. I owe a special thanks to Jesper Wikström and Joannis and Sotiris Danos for helping me come here? They were the owners of Athinaikos during the season I played there at 2014 and they are the ones who suggested and helped me come here.

Which team-mate is the toughest during practice?
– Hard to say, each one is the toughest for different reasons! For example Maria Melkon is so fast it’s so hard to keep up with her in defence and protect the ball from her in offence! But I would say Jovana Ciric because she has big experience and plays very smart so it’s very challenging for me both to guard her and score against her.

Name the best player you have encountered (or played with)
– Definitely Jackie Jemelos when she was playing for Panathinaikos and I was in Athinaikos in Greece. She played in WNBA this season for Chicago Sky, very talented scorer.

Name your best memory from a game
– Three years ago with the university team at the European Championship. We were losing by 22 points from Holland at half time and we managed to turn the game around and win by five. I was playing with sprained ankle from the game the day before against France but managed to play 40 minutes and did my best game at the championship, so it was double sweet victory!