Palusna Upbeat Following Return To Court
Sunday's 77-55 triumph over Ukraine on the opening day of the EuroBasket Women in Latvia was cause for a double celebration for Slovakia's Regina Palusna.
The 20-year-old center completed her return from a serious knee injury when making her debut in the competition in Liepaja.
Signed by EuroLeague Women giants Ros Casares last summer, Palusna got hurt soon after and had a frustrating year.
Palusna played 10 minutes against Ukraine and then spoke to FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Congratulations, Regina. Six years have passed since we saw Slovakia take part in the Final Round of the EuroBasket Women. Your team made a stunning debut in Latvia. Give us your thoughts.
Palusna: "It was great to come out of our first game with a win. This was my first appearance in a EuroBasket for the senior team and I'm delighted. We are all very happy to be here. We played a very good game, we were strong on defence and great on fast breaks. This win will give us a boost in confidence for our next games."
FIBA Europe: This game had a particular significance for you considering you were coming back from a long injury lay-off having undergone cross-ligament knee surgery last year?
Palusna: "It was my first game after 11 months away from the court. I was really nervous but everything went well. I am really happy that I played and that we won. My recovery is complete but I'm a little bit scared of contact. I need to play more games and I think it will gradually get better because I am worried about hurting my knee again. This is normal but probably the next game will be better."
FIBA Europe: It's early days but how far can Slovakia go in this tournament?
Palusna: "We want to take it one game at a time and enjoy the experience. The important thing as our coach (Pokey Chatman) always says is to play good defense and that is what we have to do in every game. We need to keep our focus and think positive."
FIBA Europe: What does Pokey bring to the team and how have you benefitted as an individual?
Palusna: "Everyone here loves our coach because she understands us, understands everything about the game. She is very supportive and enthusiastic. It's great for the team that she is with us. It also helps that she is a woman and that she is a former player and a great coach."