Two weeks ago the FIBA 3X3 Europe Cup 2017 took place in Amsterdam. We Are Basket went to this event to look for fascinating stories. When I watched the games, one person stood out from the rest. This player was Nauris Miezis, a player I had never heard of until now. It was one of the Latvian players who led his team to a surprising gold medal at the 3X3 Europe Cup. I had to ask him a few questions. Not only me but all of our readers could learn a bit more about this Latvian star and the basketball culture of Latvia.
1. How did you get into playing basketball?
When I was seven years old, I moved from Riga to Kekava, where I started to play basketball. My first coach was Andris Eglitis. From the very beginning, Andris let me play with guys who were two years older. After a couple of years, he sent me to Riga – VEF, where I had to prove myself all over again. I sat on the bench and I had to fight for a chance to play in the starting five, and I did.
2. What was it like to play basketball in Latvia as a kid?
Well, it is interesting, we have a very developed system. We have many tournaments for young basketball players. I remember
when I was a young kid, I could play game after game, tournament after tournament and I didn’t get tired, but now we need rest days.
3. Is basketball a big sport in Latvia?
Yes, basketball is the second largest sport in Latvia. We have many leagues. We have two professional leagues and a lot of amateur leagues.
4. Do you see a great future for Latvian basketball now with the Kristaps Porzingis hype in the NBA?
I think Kristaps Porzingis is doing a great job, with his achievements he shows the young Latvian basketball players that they can also do great things and dream big. Nothing is impossible if you commit yourself a 100 percent and work really hard.
5. You played for the national youth teams, what was your experience?
Yes, I played for the national team when I was 18, U-18. It was a great experience to play against basketball players from other countries; it gave me the opportunity to compete against some of the toughest competitors from my age group.
6. Do you have ambitions to play for popular teams in the Euroleague or even the NBA?
When I was a kid, my dream was NBA like every kid’s dream. But now I just want to play and feel the game; it is better to play with a lower level team and play a lot then playing for a popular team sitting on the bench.
7. What made you decide to play for the national 3×3 team?
I have played 3×3 basketball for six years now. This year they asked me for the national team, and they offered me a starting place, and I agreed.
8. What is the biggest skill needed in 3X3?
The biggest skill required in 3×3 basketball is motivation, to be strong, not letting emotions crush you after failure and of course in 3×3 basketball individual skills play a prominent role.
9. If you had to choose between playing for the national 3×3 team or 5×5 team, what would you choose and why?
It is always an honor to represent your country; it doesn’t matter if it is 5×5 or 3×3.
10. How did it feel to not only upset the other countries and win gold, but also win MVP of the Europe Cup 3×3?
Those emotions are indescribable; they are even following me today. We didn’t expect to win 1st place, but now we are champions. Just amazing.