Hallik, Lappeenranta Learn From EuroCup Hard Knocks

25.01.2008

Some players experience the thrill of winning a title but in a sporting competition, only one team can win it all.

That doesn't mean that basketball players on those sides that don't quite make it can't be sky high every once in a while.

Meet Estonian Reinar Hallik, a 24-year-old forward with Lappeenranta of Finland.

Hallik had one of the finest shooting performances of the season against PAOK BC in the EuroCup on December 17?

PAOK were getting blown out but reeled off 14 consecutive points to trail 55-48 with 4:21 to go in the third quarter when Hallik, the Finnish club's 2.08m forward, entered the game.

He immediately buried a three-ball.

After PAOK scored again, Hallik replied with another long-range shot for a 61-50 advantage.

PAOK continued to battle and closed the gap to eight with less than two minutes to go in the third, but Hallik responded with another three for a 65-54 advantage.

PAOK refused to quit, and consecutive jump shots from them made it 69-63 with 8:00 remaining.

Have no fear, Hallik is here.

He stepped up to nail his fourth straight three-pointer to take the lead back to nine and end the PAOK resistance.

Lappeenranta will not be advancing to the next stage of the EuroCup, but they will surely look back on the season with some good memories.

FIBA Europe caught up with Hallik this week.

FIBA Europe: Reinar, congratulations on a good performance in the EuroCup this year with Lappeenranta. The wins have been tough to come by of late, but how would you evaluate the club's performance, and yours overall?

Reinar Hallik: "Thank you. Yeah, it was a pretty good year for the team. Lappeenranta went to the top 16 and it is a big thing for Finnish basketball. Our team is pretty young and we don't have that much experience, yet. That's why I think we lost a few close games in the last minutes and that ended our chances of going to the top eight."  

FIBA Europe: How popular is basketball in Finland now and has there been a lot of interest in your club's games this season?

Reinar Hallik: "It's been my first year playing in Finland. Basketball is not as popular as in my home country, Estonia. Finland is more of an ice hockey country, but here in Lappeenranta, basketball is really big, because this is one of strongest teams in Finland and our games are always sold out. Finland television shows all our FIBA (EuroCup) games."

FIBA Europe: What has been the best moment that you can remember from the EuroCup in the 2007-08 campaign?

Reinar Hallik: "I think it was advancing to the top 16. After we beat Keravnos, we were so happy, because not a lot of people believed that we could beat them."

FIBA Europe: Reinar, Finland won promotion to EuroBasket Division A and will now attempt to qualify for EuroBasket 2009. How do you rate your country's chances of making it to the EuroBasket in Poland?

Reinar Hallik: "I think Finland have a pretty good team and they deserve to play in Division A. But if you ask about the Estonian national team, it's going to be hard for Estonia to make EuroBasket 2009. If (Martin) Müürsepp and (Gert) Kullamäe continue to play in the national team, then we have a chance."

FIBA Europe: Last question, Reinar. If you were not a professional basketball player, what in life would you like to do?

Reinar Hallik: "I really can't imagine my life without basketball, so I think I would be a basketball coach."

FIBA Europe: Thanks Reinar, and good luck with the rest of the season.


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