By Paul Nilsen
|Karolina Puss is looking to take over a good club season the the Polish U20 team|
After being part of a glorious and historic season for CCC Polkowice, Polish guard Karolina Puss is hoping the experience can inspire a strong performance at the U20 European Championship Women in Samsun.
Both Puss and her team-mate Dominika Owczarzak can reflect on wonderful memories of domestic dominance and silverware, in addition to a first ever trip to the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
"It was an amazing season, not only for our club and for Polish basketball, but especially for the young players" agreed Puss.
"We didn't necessarily play a lot of minutes, but we got to be with great players who taught us many things.
"The experience gave us a lot, whilst at the same time, it also showed us how much time and work we need to be as good as they are."
Owczarzak in particular has really made a noise lately, even playing confidently during limited minutes at the Final Eight in Ekaterinburg.
She has even impressed enough to have been handed a senior national team debut by Jacek Winnicki, with her appearance in the EuroBasket Women 2015 1st Qualification Round not exactly coming as a surprise to her friend and colleague.
"She laughs a lot, she's helpful and she just enjoys every moment" said Puss.
"He then gave her a few chances and she used them.
"For her it was a great season, because she proved that she can play in a EuroLeague Women team and she can be very useful even at her young age.
"So now I hope that she helps us in Samsum" added the teenager.
She also found time to recall the joy of working alongside Spanish national team veteran Palau, a huge character who has since decided to move on after one terrific season.
"You just can't be sad when she's around" smiled Puss.
|"Mom" Laia Palau will leave CCC Polkowice, but left a mark with the young players|
"For us young players she was like a mom and a friend in the same time because she took care of us and spent a lot of time with us.
"You could laugh with her, but if you needed her help during practice or even afterwards, she would always help you."
In contrast to the highs of a wonderful club season, the stinging pain of being relegated to Division B at the U18 European Championship last year continues to linger.
"It's hard to say what happened" confessed Puss.
"I think our group was tough and we knew from the beginning that the game against Sweden would be the most important one and so when we lost, we just stopped believing in ourselves.
"It shouldn't be like this because we are playing for our country so in every game, we have to leave our hearts on the court.
"Maybe we just didn't support each other enough. But now we know that this kind of situation can't happen again, so it was another lesson for us."
With the underwhelming displays in Bucharest still a frustration, Puss is hoping this summer will be vastly different.
"I always have big dreams so I want come back to Poland with medal - but, it's a long way ahead of us" she stressed.
"In every game we have to prove that we deserve to be one of the top teams in Europe.
"I think we have the chance to win our games. It won't be easy because every team has great players, but I believe in my teammates.
Poland will play in Group B against Greece, Slovak Republic and Spain.