Quinn: "I Would Be Glad To Play For Bulgaria Again"

02.02.2009

Things didn't go according to plan for Bulgaria at the start of 2009, when they took part in the EuroBasket Women Additional Qualifying Round.

One victory from four games left Nikolay Boroukov's team third in Group A behind Ukraine and Germany and out of the Final Round which tips off this summer in Latvia.

"I know it was a mistake that we didn't have any friendly games before the Additional Qualification Round," Boroukov said.

"If we had, I think we could have won against Ukraine in the first game. Then it would be a very different situation in this group."

Bulgaria led by as many as 12 points in that game and were up by eight midway through the third quarter when they went off the rails.

Ukraine outscored Bulgaria 19-3 over the final 4:40 of the period for a 67-59 advantage and they stayed in front for the entire fourth quarter.

There was one very big positive about the Additional Qualifying Round for Bulgaria and she goes by the name of Noelle Quinn.

A native of Los Angeles who stayed in the city and played college basketball at UCLA, Quinn played in this season's EuroLeague Women with TEO Vilnius.

For Bulgaria, she averaged 18.3 points per game- impressive numbers when considering she buried 52.4 % (22 of 42) of her shots inside the arc and 50% (five of 10) from beyond it.

Quinn also led by example on defense, coming up with an average of 3.5 steals per contest.

Boroukov's coaching contract with Bulgaria has expired and he doesn't know if he'll apply for the job again, but one message he wants to deliver to the federation is that having Quinn on board was worth it.

"I am very pleased with Noelle Quinn," he said. "I know how hard it was to join unknown players in a unknown country, but she is a very nice and positive person."

So what about Quinn?

Here is an interview with the player that made headlines for the Bulgarians.

FIBA Europe: Noel, you had a great January with Bulgaria, although the team wasn't able to accomplish its mission of reaching the Final Round. Was this a one-and-done deal with the national team or can we expect to see you in the Bulgaria jersey again?

Noel: I would be glad to play for Bulgaria again.

FIBA Europe: How would you assess your time with the national team? Was it a challenge for you?

Noel: I think I did a good job here. It's a pity we didn't qualify for the EuroBasket Women but I think I was successful in jelling with the team and was able to help. We played better game after game. I think I showed what I am capable of. It was normal that we had some difficulties in the first game, but through the games we started to know each other better and better.

FIBA Europe: How did the Bulgarian players treat you?

Noel: Oh, it was great. Since the first day, when I came to Rousse, all the girls started to help me in everything - translating, ordering meals. Everyone wanted me to feel okay. I ate some national meals here - something with potatoes and meat, salads, it was interesting for me. I have learned some Bulgarian phrases, too. I had great fun.

FIBA Europe: Do you like Bulgaria?

Noel: I was in Sofia for a while and it was nice. There I met the American (Lottomatica Roma's Ibrahim Jaaber) who played for Bulgarian man team. I was in Rousse for a month. It is a small city and the winter is cold, but I like it. People are nice. I met in 2009 here with the club president of Dunav Ekont. I liked the way they danced and had fun.

FIBA Europe: Will you come back to the national team?

Noel: Everybody here told me to come back, they want me here. So I think I'll be back.

FIBA Europe: Tell us how it worked out that you were able to join the Bulgaria team.

Noel: I played for Spartak (MR) in Russia, but one day the president came and told me that if I wanted to stay in the club, I had to become Bulgarian, to have a passport, to play for the national team. So last year, I discussed this with my agent and decided. This summer I received the passport.

FIBA Europe: How did your family react to this?

Noel: I am very close with my mother. She always supports me, takes care of me. My agent told her that it would be good for me, that there is nothing dangerous. My relatives and friends asked me, "WOW! Where is this. What is this?" I didn't now anything about this country, not even where it is. So I started to read on the internet - history, geography.

FIBA Europe: So back to basketball. What position do you prefer - to be point guard or shooting guard?

Noel: I started at UCLA and played shooting guard. But when I went to the WNBA (1997 with Minnesota), they wanted me to play point guard. It was very hard for me to change my thinking, my position, but I did. I like passing, but shooting, too. Point guards are among the most important people in the team. But if I learn the system here, I think I will have no problems doing it.


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