|Ready for a birthday-clash: Kadidja Andersson|
This Thursday, it is difficult to think of a better birthday present for Kadidja Andersson than a victory for MBK Ruzomberok when they take on Kayseri Kaski spor on the first leg of their EuroCup Semi-final clash.
The Swedish international turns 33 on the day - a reminder of her seniority in a young Ruzomberok squad.
"Reaching the semi-finals in any big competition is always a good accomplishment, but to do it with such a young team is a really great achievement - although hopefully, the best is yet to come," the forward told FIBAEurope.com correspondent Paul Nilsen.
One of the keys to Ruzemberok's success this season - who have made the semi-finals despite not winning at home - has been the intimacy shown between the players on the court.
"Some of them [the youngsters on the Ruzemberok team] have played for Ruzomberok for several years and it's evident how much they grow each season," said Andersson, giving an insight into why the players know each other so well.
"Every day this team gets better and a lot of credit goes to our coaches for their patience, guidance and confidence in knowing we can, and will, get the job done."
Coming into the home-and-away semifinal series as the underdogs means Ruzomberok play the first leg at home, presenting the perfect opportunity for the Slovakians to finally break their home court hoodoo.
"You're playing in front of your home crowd, friends and family, and it's almost like we want it too much," says Andersson in an attempt to explain her team's home court issues, going on to add, "when we're on the road, we only have each other and it might be easier to focus on just playing basketball and not think or listen to anything else..."
Greek national team wing Zoi Dimitrakou and her Kayseri Kaski spor teammates rightfully carry the favoritism tag into this encounter, after returning from the dead in their quarter-final clash with Dynamo Kursk.
|Zoi Dimitrakou's fine display against Kursk underlines her status as a top-level player. |
Taking a 15-point lead into the return-leg in Russia, Kayseri appeared to have blown their advantage, before a late intervention from Dimitrakou pushed the game into overtime where the Turks safely navigated their way into the semis.
Despite playing the biggest role in keeping her team alive in EuroCup Women, Dimitrakou, is shying away from the spotlight.
"In this particular game, it was me that made the last basket in regulation time, but I guess next game, it will be somebody else.
"The only thing that matters is that we played well as a team to win."
One factor playing into Kayseri's hands coming into the opening leg is their strong away record and their hosts' abysmal home record - a record that Kayseri are aware of.
"Hopefully they [Ruzomberok] won't manage to get their first win at home against Kayseri," said Dimitrakou, smiling to Paul Nilsen.