|Armands Skele's incredible shot against Tarvas left basketball fans worldwide in awe|
By Dimitris Kontos
A once-in-many-lifetimes play by Latvian guard Armands Skele became an instant hit on YouTube in the Baltics last April.
It soon went viral and, in December, FIBA Europe Facebook fans voted it as the best basketball moment of 2012.
The Kalev/Cramo player made a now famous behind-the-back shot while chasing the ball in front of the scorers' table in an Estonian league play-off game against Tarvas, that left in awe his team-mates, their opponents, and thousands of fans around Europe - and beyond.
"I even had some calls and emails from places like Australia or Brazil asking how I did that," Skele told FIBAEurope.com.
"Well at least it helped make my team a little bit famous," he laughed.
So how does one pull something like that off?
"It's unbelievable, I don't know how it happened," he tries his best to explain.
"I just wanted to throw the ball in the general direction of the basket because we had some guys down there but when I threw it, it felt so easy, like someone helped me.
"It was really so easy at that moment.
"The next day I tried it again a few times and I could not even make the ball hit the board."
His team-mates and, who knows, maybe even some Tarvas players, also gave it a try or two the following day and, as expected, the outcome did not even come close.
"It was fun then, but [at the end of the day it] was just part of the game, nothing changed," he said.
Indeed, despite its uniqueness, for Skele that basket is not the most memorable moment of his career, or even of 2012.
THE REALLY HARD PART
In the summer, the 29-year-old Latvian international was struck down with meningitis, for the third time in his life.
He was hospitalised and underwent a second operation to remove the virus from his brain and spinal cord.
"I was 19 when I first got it, and it was different because I was younger," he explains.
"But now it was the second time in the last three years.
"It's hard, but I don't give up [my career], because I still have plenty of time left to play basketball."
Skele could not help the national team in the EuroBasket Qualification Round and only returned to Kalev's squad to play his first game this season in December.
"I am feeling much better now, it is unlucky for me but I am well, I am back in shape and I can play again.
"Kalev has given me a chance and I try to take it.
"In the beginning, it is very hard to get fit again.
"You are in the hospital for months, you cannot move, it's really hard both mentally and physically.
"I just hope it doesn't come back in the future."
|Skele would love to celebrate his next birthday with his Latvian team-mates in Slovenia|
EUROBASKET BIRTHDAY CAKE
Speaking of the future, Skele will turn 30 on 4 September. He doesn't need to be reminded which big event tips-off in Slovenia on that same day.
"It's always on my birthday, every September, in the last ten years my birthday is always a game day," he laughs.
"I always want to play for the national team when the situation allows it," he says swiftly.
"I want to play at the EuroBasket, I practised with the team last summer but then I got sick and didn't get to play."
He watched the team in the Qualification Round though and as a player who made his international debut at the age of 16, he noticed a thing or two.
"Latvia has talent but not too much experience because we are a very young team," he admitted.
"We need to play in a different style than before (with the previous generation), but I think if we have the same roster like in the summer we can surprise many teams.
"We can play aggressive defence, we're good on the fast-break and we have lots of good shooters.
"It's not good for us to play half-court basketball because in this group there are good teams with big guys, and big names even."
"It is always hard to play against Serbia and the other teams from the former Yugoslavia because they know how to play good basketball," Skele offers.
"But we will try our best against all of them."
However, the match-up that has caught the eye of any Latvian anywhere is that of day three, against neighbours Lithuania.
"Lithuania is always a big team and we always have a good fight," the guard says.
"We never make it easy for them, and we even beat them - sometimes!
"When you play against big teams, you play with full concentration as a professional.
"If you go to the EuroBasket you prepare for it a long time and you want to play against the best."
Relive Skele's amazing shot that marked the calendar year 2012: