EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Luxembourg respect every team and will try to show them that they deserve their respect too, Lena Hetto says of her nation's EuroBasket Women Qualification Round campaign |
By Paul Nilsen
They may be the smallest nation to participate in the EuroBasket Women Qualification Round and have a very young team, but teenage talent Lena Hetto and her Luxembourg team-mates wouldn't swap one of the biggest challenges in modern day basketball for anything.
The prospect of the minnows stepping up from Division B appears to be a sıgnıfıcantly daunting one and arguably the most difficult task any basketball nation will experience this year.
For it was only recently that Luxembourg even managed to claim victories in Division B, the second natıonal team tier, with a double success against Albania.
However, don't expect Luxembourg to necessarily show any fear when they step out this summer and mark a new dawn in their history.
Hetto has already shown she can make a transition to the senior team after some excellent performances last year in Division B and now she can't wait to step out and meet head on what will be a sizeable challenge.
"First of all, I have to say that we have a very young team," she admitted.
"But we are proud to now play against teams like these. We have to try our best and we need to be well prepared as a team to play together, to respect these teams and also not to fear anybody.
"I don't think that there is one group which could have been better for us. All these countries are bigger and have stronger national teams.
"Like I said, we respect them but will try our best to show them that they also have to respect us.
"I'm looking forward to get a chance to play against countries like Italy, Latvia, Greece and Finland.
|Nadia Mossong (pictured) and Tessy Hetting are the first Luxembourgian players to turn pro and others, including Hetto, could soon be following suit|
"Everybody knows how small Luxembourg is but we can use it as an advantage and practice more often," Hetto offers.
The timing of the forthcoming schedule couldn't be any better for the 19-year-old since she has just brought her very productive and impressive youth career to a close.
Luxembourg are focusing on their U16 and U18 women's teams at present.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this senior team. I have worked very hard all these previous years in the youth teams to be able to say that I achieved one of my basketball goals," the young player says.
"There is a big difference between the youth teams and the senior women's team since basketball is played in a different way.
"I am very proud to have had the opportunity to show myself out there. But, I'm not sure about being one of the leaders of the team. I'm young and I don't have much experience except the youth tournaments I had.
"I would rather say that nobody knew me before, because last year was my first year in the women's team. I tried my best and it worked.
"So this year, I'll try also my best, work hard and have fun with my team-mates on and off the court."
While making the step up, Hetto admitted not going to a youth tournament this summer will represent something of a void.
"Yes, off course I will miss these tournaments this summer," she admits.
These tournaments are great opportunities to make contacts, to showcase yourself out there and to grow together as a team.
"I have learned how it is to be away for 14 days with the team and stuff. How it is to manage things if not everything goes right.
"It's also an opportunity you get to manage the hard times on and off court but also to have fun and to show that you're proud to play for your country.
"These tournaments are physically tough but together you can make it."
"I don't really have plans for the future," she adds.
"For the coming season I will stay in my hometown.
"I will stay next year here in Luxembourg and finish my school here.
"For 2014 I'll see where I want go to University, or where I want to play basketball.
"I guess nobody knows yet what the future will bring!"
The emergence of players like Hetto represents a steep evolution in the development of the women's game during the past few years in Luxembourg.
The conditions for athletes and especially basketball players have improved considerably.
With the instalment of the first National sports elite high school, youngsters are given the opportunity to pursue their ambitions as student athletes.
On top of that, the country has witnessed the rise of their first female professional basketball players, Tessy Hetting and Nadia Mossong.
Liz Schmitz will follow in their footsteps and turn pro soon and even more girls are likely to do the same in the future - possibly including Hetto.
Head coach Hermann Paar will have an initial group of 19 players to choose from.
The roster is as follows: Nadia Mossong (OKE Panthers), Tessy Hetting (Point Chaud Sprimont), Léonie de Jonge (Cornell College), Jil Haentges (Point Loma Nazarene University), Liz Schmitz (Jeugd Gentson), Anouk Wagener ( T71 Dudelange), Kim Brück (T71 Dudelange), Jill Bausch (Résidence Walferdange), Michèle Orban (Résidence Walferdange), Lena Hetto (US Heffingen), Nadia Marcus (US Heffingen), Lynn Kauffmann (AB Contern), Julie Zovilé (AB Contern), Cathy Schmit (Musel Pikes), Laure Diederich (Musel Pikes), Magaly Meynadier (Musel Pikes), Lisy Hetting (Etzella Ettelbrück), Jo Schreiner (Etzella Ettelbrück), Lynn Schreiner (Etzella Ettelbrück).