Jekabasone-Zogota Proud For Latvia

13 February 2008

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota is sky high.

The Latvian superstar has been ever since she discovered she'd been voted as the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year.

As explosive a scorer as there is in the game, Jekabsone-Zogota's dynamic play helped win over all neutrals to Latvia's side at last year's EuroBasket Women.

She spoke to FIBA Europe to talk about the award and her current EuroLeague Women campaign .

FIBA Europe: Anete, congratulations on winning this prestigious award. Tell us your thoughts on this achievement.

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "I only found out about it last Thursday when we were in Poland. My husband

Latvia Down-Hearted
Latvia had a great run at EuroBasket Women 2007 but were kept off the podium by Belarus.
called me, shared the news and congratulated me. At first I could not believe it. I am very humble and it was a great surprise to me. It makes me feel good, though, that a panel of experts gave me this award - it really means a lot to me. But I feel great now. I'm not sure how I'll feel on March 13 during the award ceremony. I know, though, I won't change as a player or as a person. "

FIBA Europe: What was the best moment for you last year on the court?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "Beating France in the EuroBasket quarter-final. We had tears in our eyes. We could not believe what we had done."

FIBA Europe: How did last year compare to other years? For example, was it a hard season for you, or was it typical?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "Every year, everything is different. Last year was the best in my career; I feel I am still growing as a player. But it was not any more difficult."

FIBA Europe: What does it mean for you to represent Latvia?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "I love my country. It is very small and I feel great when I can do some good things for it, like putting its name in the headlines by getting the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year Award. I am a patriot and love it when the national anthem is played before our games."

FIBA Europe: Your personal circumstances changed in that you got married. How did this impact you as a player?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "It did not really affect me as a player, just gave me more confidence. My husband supports me at home and he also `coaches' me, helping become a better player."                                                  

FIBA Europe: Latvia players were extremely close last year and there was a great atmosphere in the team. Your play as a team really won over the hearts of fans. Will that continue to be the case with Latvia?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "I think it will. We are a very friendly team; we've been playing together for a long time now and we've also had great fans. All that explains the chemistry, which helped us do so well last summer. I just wish we had come third at the EuroBasket and not fourth. I think we really deserved to be third, but my injury and my teammate's (Gunta Basko) injury held us back. And now I am sure we will have a lot more fun in Madrid during the Olympic Qualifier. I know people are already starting to book hotel rooms for the event."

FIBA Europe: Speaking of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. What will this challenge be

It will start right after the season and we won't be rested. We will only have three weeks to prepare for it, so hopefully everybody will be in shape and ready.
Zogota on Latvia's chances
in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament
like for you and your teammates?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "It will be difficult, that's for sure. It will start right after the season and we won't be rested. We will only have three weeks to prepare for it, so hopefully everybody will be in shape and ready. We'll be playing against Japan and Senegal. I think both these teams are quick and can shoot. But this is Latvia's dream and a chance and I'll be hoping for the best."

FIBA Europe: If you could play at the Olympics, what would that mean for you?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "Words can't describe this. I probably would cry. The entire country would love us!"

FIBA Europe: You carried Dynamo Moscow into the EuroLeague Women Quarter-finals. How do you see the rest of the season playing out?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "We have Spartak Moscow Region next. They are a great team with great players. Perhaps the best players in the world are there. But if we don't make it to the EuroLeague Final Four, we have to have a good finish to the Russian League. I think we have to prepare for Spartak extremely well to have any chances. We should be in shape to be able to stop their key players: Lauren Jackson, Diana Taurasi, Tina Thompson, and Tatiana Shchegoleva ."

FIBA Europe: What can you tell us about your coach Ainars Zvirgzdins, who is also the coach of the Latvia national team?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "I like my coach. He's very smart. He teaches me a lot of things nobody ever taught me before, especially on defense. For him, basketball is all about defense and that's where we'll need to do well to beat Spartak. He is also a big reason I received the Player of the Year Award."

FIBA Europe: Overall, Anete, if you could achieve one thing in your career, what would that be?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "At first, get to the Olympic Games and then I'll see."

FIBA Europe: Anete, there are a lot of young girls across Europe who will now be following you closely. What do those girls, if they aspire to be basketball players, have to do to reach the same level of success that you have?

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota: "Once you start practicing, you have to listen to your coach. Work hard, never give up and listen to your coach. Do what he says and don't try to be smarter. Try to take something out of each practice. Don't just go there to run around the gym."

FIBA Europe: Congratulations from all of us.

We get personal with the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year in 24 Seconds with Anete Jekabsone-Zogota.



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