|Polish international Magdalena Zietara will return to EuroLeague Women this season with Good Angels Kosice|
By Paul Nilsen
Preparing to celebrate a landmark 21st birthday next week, Zietara can not wait to pick up her career in the tournament again, having made quite an impact as a teenager whilst in Gdynia.
THIRD TIME LUCKY
"I think all players dream about playing in EuroLeague Women and for me it will be my third season," explained Zietara.
"My time with Gdynia was a very helpful experience since I not only played inEuroLeague Women, but also worked with great coaches like Javier Fort and George Dikeoulakos.
"During my second EuroLeague Women season, coach Fort gave me a lot of chances to be on the court and I was trying to do what he wanted and expected from me.
"Because of this experience, I will now feel more comfortable on the court and I will do my best to help the team [in Kosice].
"It will be great if we can repeat the result from last year or do even more. And if we talk about my individual expectation, after this year I just want to be a more experienced player and I will still work on my individual skills."
She continued, "We have a young team, but our pre-season games have shown that the young players have a lot of potential.
"Of course there are a lot of ups and downs like with all young players, so we just need more time because the level of our game won't be the same during the whole season.
"However, I still believe that we can make a lot of surprises and we have high expectations to win every game."
JABLONSKA FACTOR, NATIONAL TEAM DREAMS
Whilst Zietara quickly praises the influence of Fort and Dikeoulakos, she holds a special place for another play-caller whom she insists has had the biggest influence on her fledgling career.
She recalled, "I think that the most important moment for me was changing club from my hometown to Poznan.
Jablonska has played a significant role in the maturing of Zietara's game, also working with her at youth level with Poland in a relationship which delivered unexpected podium success.
"Our best moment was for sure during the summer of 2011 at the U20 European Championship Women in Novi Sad" reminisced Zietara.
|In 2011, Magdalena Zietara and Poland surprised everybody - including themselves - by finishing on the podium at the U20 European Championship Women|
"Our bronze medal was huge surprise not only for us but for everybody."
Her final year at youth level in 2012 was hugely frustrating due to the team being affected by illness and despite producing some typically scintillating individual contributions, it was not to be.
"I still believe that we had chance to be in the best four in Europe" she mused.
"But, we didn't have enough energy and we became tired, so we ended up fighting for the lower places."
This summer witnessed her dipping a toe into the water of the senior national team and playing a part in Poland not only trying to qualify for EuroBasketWomen 2015, but also pen a chapter in the history of Polish basketball in the post-Kobryn, Bibrzycka era.
"It will be hard to put someone else in the place of 'Biba' and 'Ewka' because they were our main national team players," agreed Zietara.
"To build a new team, I think that we need even more young players.
"We should make something new and then we can start thinking about some achievement in Europe or even in the world.
"If of course the coach still wants me in the national team, I think that I can be an important part for the few next years."
TIME FOR A CONFESSION
One aspect of Zietara which is particularly refreshing is her candidness.
Asked to reveal something about herself, she described how she initially wanted to be a football player, but then decided upon basketball - a decision she quickly underlined was a particularly good choice.
She also confessed to things with a smile, reiterating her instinct to have fun as well as working hard on the court.
"When I have day off, I can spend this entire day only lying in bed, so people sometimes say that I'm lazy," laughed Zietara.
"I can't live without my iPhone, but I think that's normal for my age.
"I also have three tattoos and one of them says one the most important things for me - family and friends."
The other important thing in her life of course is her love of the game and a desire to deliver success.
Now, if she takes to EuroLeague Women like she initially did with Gdyina, then she may prove to be a very Good Angel indeed.