Tomorrow clash between Sweden and Germany has a hidden match up
NCAA teammates, Anna Heise and Mikaela Gustafsson have just completed their Freshman year at Maine University.
Hosts Turkey handed Sweden their first loss on the opening day of the u20 European Championship, however today they bounced back with a comfortable win over Lithuania 69-47. Germany gave us a nail biter the first day just beating Lithuania 86-85, however today they were unable to compete with Turkey and lost 48-72.
Given that Lithuania have lost two games and have also lost to both Sweden and Germany, progression to the 2nd round is not in question for either team, however bragging rights for the whole of next year when they each return to Maine will surely be on the back of their minds.
Heise the 6’3 German and Gustafsson the 6’2 Swede have never played against each other for their respective nations before tomorrows fixture, for sure they have exchanged some ‘ruff and tuff’ play in training scrimmages in Bangor, Maine this year, but that was for playing minutes tomorrow will be for National pride.
Heise suffered an injury during her freshman year limiting her contribution to the team for the second half of the season but started 10 of those first 12 games , Mikaela played in 25 of 28 games last season at Maine. Both talk very favourably of their freshman year. “I learned to work my butt off! I am convinced that without the help of my coaches in America I wouldn’t be where I am right now.” Commented Heise. Gustafsson talking about the differences in style of play from Europe to America “It is more physical and tougher kind of basketball in America. I also think it’s a lot more 1-1 and attacking then I have experienced playing in Sweden and in Europe. I was more used to depending on my team mates to hand me the ball rather than having to be the one to create my own shots so I have definitely learned a lot.” Both student athletes chose Maine based on the vision of head Coach Barron who visited each girl in their home towns.
When asked what would they advise any other European player considering the NCAA route, each replied “just do it!” “a once in a life time opportunity” When both players saw the draw for the European Championships months ago, much banter has been flying around the gym in Bangor. Pressing team mates to pick which Nation they think will prosper, one will return victor the other, subject to teasing, head held in shame the only saving grace in September they will be reunited and focussed on bringing victory together for Maine.
The game tips at 18.00 Hours in Samsun Turkey