|Kathrin Ress is entering her self-proclaimed second phase with the national team, coming back into the fray following the birth of her son Sebastian|
By Mirco Melloni
For the first time, Ress will be one of Italy's veteran players, as only Raffaella Masciadri and Nnena Wabara are older. She can bring her experience in WNBA and FIBA Europe competitions (she played in two EuroBasket Women editions - 2007 and 2009; and won the EuroCup Women in 2008), and it will be a crucial presence, as Kathrin is one of Italy's few centers with international tenure.
Even though Roberto Ricchini's squad had an excellent EuroBasket Women Qualification Round, with seven wins out of eight games, the side needs to step up in order to compete at the final stage. And Kathrin Ress and Chiara Consolini's comebacks can provide major help.
EuroBasket Women in France (Italy will start in Group B in Vannes, against Spain, Russia and Sweden) was a major target for Kathrin, who needed a few months to get back into ideal shape. After beginning the season with Faenza, Ress later became a key player for Lucca, reaching both the Serie A1 and Italian Cup finals.
"I thank the Italian Federation and coach Ricchini, who has been waiting for my comeback since I was pregnant," said Ress. "I spent the season looking for the right condition, and I feel in good shape, [and will be] able to provide some help starting from day one."
"Our debut against Sweden will be very important, as we will face the main opponent for the third spot in Group B and qualification to the second round. I'm eager to see our worth in EuroBasket Women - we are young and only a few players have EuroBasket Women experience. But I like our upside, and I think that behind France and Russia there are many outsiders."
Ress knows her role will be very important, as Italy lack presence in the paint. "We need a balanced style of play, we will use dynamic inside players like me and Sabrina Cinili...we will be a quick team."
FAMILY PUTS CAREER INTO PERSPECTIVE
Kathrin's presence is marked by the family, too. Sebastian is her first and last thought of the day, and his presence is a positive influence for Ress' playing career. "After a long stop for pregnancy, I needed to find my shape and my shooting touch again. But mentally I feel better."
|Kathrin's brother Tomas has also pulled on the Azzurri singlet|
"I know all the basketball aspects are very important, but I found another perspective. I can divide my life into two spheres: my son and basketball. I can find my peace quickly."
Her family has a close relationship with basketball. Kathrin's older brother, Tomas, is chasing his sixth consecutive Italian title with Montepaschi Siena. But despite his skills and his experience, Tomas chose to end his national team career. "It's not easy to play with the national team after a 70-game season with the club, travelling twice a week - something he has done for the past five or six years," said Kathrin.
"I can understand Tomas very well, but for me it has been different. I've been with the Azzurre shirt since the youth teams, it has always been an honour and it gave me a chance to play on some important stages".
Ress played in the United States in the NCAA (she graduated in Boston College) and in the WNBA (Minnesota Lynx): "I learned a lot; in college there's big attention on the tactical part of the game. In WNBA I had fun, all the players are considered as stars, but I learned a lot also in Spain, with Gran Canaria, and in Schio".
"Basketball changed my life, as I left home at 11 years old, when I was recruited by Parma. Tomas also left home young, at 14, and then he went to the States for college basketball too. I give a lot of credit to my parents for letting us go."
Now as a parent, the shoe is on the other foot for Kathrin. "I just hope Sebastian will find his way in anything he does. I hope he will do it with passion."
"At the same time, I hope I will be able to tell him big things about EuroBasket Women 2013. I'm eager to be back on such an important stage."