Basketball NI YF Guest Star: Evanthia Maltsi

On Tuesday 23rd May the Basketball NI Youth Forum had the honour of having former Greek professional basketball player Evanthia ‘Evina’ Maltsi join them to talk about her past career, her future and her expertises within the sport.

In 2007, Evina played for Connecticut Sun in the WNBA, appearing in 29 games, 26 in the regular season (7 as a starter) and 3 in the playoffs. A three time Euroleague All-Star (2007–2009), Evina has a long career in European club basketball, having played in Spain, France, Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey besides her native Greece.

Evina is the captain of Greece women’s national basketball team, having represented her country in several Eurobasket Women, the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2010 FIBA World Championship. She led the Greek national team to the fifth place in 2009 FIBA Eurobasket earning the EuroBasket MVP award, a remarkable feat considering that Evina was voted MVP despite the fact that Greece didn’t enter the semi-finals. She was also the FIBA EuroBasket 2009 Top Scorer and steals leader, averaging 22.6 points and 3.1 steals per game. She has been elected to the All-EuroBasket Team two times, the first in 2009 and the second in Eurobasket 2017 in Czech Republic where she led Greece to the semi-finals and the fourth place in the tournament, their best ever Eurobasket performance.

Following her retirement from the sport in 2019 she is now studying at university in Greece and currently head coach of AntetokounBros Academy. The academy was founded by NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brothers in order to create a program to help boys and girls (aged 10-16) and aspiring coaches (aged 18-25) from vulnerable social groups become fully ware of their sporting potential, gain life skills and become better citizens. The mission of this program in Greece is to provide access to sport, inspiration through education, and scholarships to open pathways in life.

We couldn’t think of a more inspiring sports women to speak to our young group on our Youth Forum. We would to thank our Vice Chair Marc Mulholland who through his experience at the FIBA Time Out programme had connected with Evina and was able to ask who he calls his ‘Greek sister’ to speak with us.

Evina started the session with explaining her past career in basketball, how the sport was her life from a young age and she was told by her coach “if you worked hard you could really do it”. She began playing in a ‘small’ club and at age 14 she was told to start working if she really wanted it and she did. She spent around 6 hours a day in the gym pushing herself to achieve her dream if reaching the WNBA.

She expressed the passion she felt captaining her Nation in the 2004 Olympic Games. She described the sheer emotion that she feels even mentioning it as “every heartbeat was for the opportunity to play in the Games”. Although we weren’t meeting in person you could feel her passion through the screen.

Evina was keen to answer various questions from the YF team covering areas such as the challenges of leaving home and playing in USA, how she uses her career to shape her coaching style and how she is constantly striving to develop herself through her personal development plan. We could have listened to Evina all night but we wrapped up a very worthwhile discussion with Evina offering her support to any of the team on the call.

We would like to thank Evina for taking the time out of her evening (late evening as she is 2 hours ahead of us in Greece!) and passing on her words of wisdom to the future of Basketball NI. Evina stated “we all do what we do because of our love of the game” and the “basketball community is a family”. We would like to echo her message as we believe there is no better way to describe our sport. We hope this is the start of a great partnership.

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