|27 May 2014|
EUROBASKET 2015 2ND QR
|This summer Nicolai Iversen will not pull on a Danish national team vest for the first time in 12 year|
Denmark will enter the battle of EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round Group D in August with a more than notable absence in their line-up, one of considerable significance both on the court and in psychological terms.
Bakken Bears veteran big man Nicolai Iversen, the linchpin of the Danish frontcourt during the past 12 years, will this time around watch the national team from the sidelines.
"I feel that my body needs a summer without the same level of activity as I had last year," Iversen told Stiftstidende, an Aarhus daily, announcing his decision to put his national team career on pause.
"Training by yourself in the off-season is something entirely different to being with the national team throughout the summer, it's not as stressful for the body."
Iversen, who turned 34 last January, has clarified that he is not bidding yet farewell to the national team that he has served so loyally during his entire adult life.
Rather, he will move to capital Copenhagen during the summer to train with former Bakken Bears player Martin Hermansen.
The big man will put in the extra effort in the gym in order to prolong his professional career and help Bakken return stronger to the EuroChallenge next year.
"Our physical trainer Line Hovgaard has made a comprehensive program that will give us a good starting point and make us even stronger than we were last season, when we did not have any significant injuries," Iversen explained.
"This year the club was much wiser and gave rest to some of the players at the right time."
The Bears, who recently defended their Danish league title, reached the Last 16 of the European competition this season, thanks in great part to the fact that Iversen and fellow veteran big Dane, Chris Christoffersen, remained healthy and made big contributions.
"We were given some breaks and there has been more focus on when to undergo physical training and when to undergo tactical basketball training," Iversen said.
"Basically, it's not about lifting weights of 100 kilos, it's about training physically so you get even better at basketball."
Denmark will now need to turn to younger players to fill that hole in the middle if they are to compete in a Group D that also includes Belgium, F.Y.R. of Macedonia and Belarus.
Iversen cannot get any younger, but he can certainly spur Bakken to another successful EuroChallenge campaign if his summer conditioning programme produces the desired results.
"We'll see if it can make me better," the veteran said.
"What I will work on [during the summer] also depends on my role in the team in the upcoming season and what specific things will be demanded of me."