One of the most exciting young players in the British game, 24-year-old sharpshooter Gabby Nikitinaite is back in Great Britain blue this week as she joins Coach Chema Buceta’s Women’s EuroBasket training camp in Manchester ahead of a busy month for the team.
The 5ft 11 shooting guard has had a stellar rookie season out in Switzerland, leading to her call-up for the National Team this month, and we sat down with Gabby on camp to discuss her thoughts and emotions on the opportunity she has had to join Coach Buceta’s camp.
“I’ve been looking forward to this a lot. I’ve been to two senior training camps in the past with Savannah before we went to College, just to get a taste of it, but now to finally be here and in consideration for the final 12 for EuroBasket, it is very exciting.
“It feels like it has been a long time coming because I’ve wanted to be here for so long, but obviously College and things made that challenging. It has been really cool to see so many familiar faces though, and I’m excited for camp to get to on the court with everybody and build over the next few weeks.
“It has meant a lot to see the reaction to me getting a call-up, because this is such an important camp with every single player being really talented, and I’m very grateful to be here and for everybody’s support.”
After an impressive debut campaign for Fribourg, both in the Swiss league and in EuroCup action, it’s safe to say Nikitinaite has taken to professional life just as well as she’s done with every other new challenge in her basketball journey to date.
The 24-year-old will now be part of the training camp roster for GB ahead of EuroBasket, with 15 players selected for a preparation programme that includes four friendlies – double-headers against Czech Republic and France – before the roster is cut down to 12 for the final group who will travel to Slovenia.
“I had a very good, fun first year as a pro.” Nikitinaite said. “I’m ready for the next challenge that is coming this summer, as well as whatever comes next year.
“Being in a professional environment this past year has made me feel as ready as I can for this camp, and the next few weeks will be an exciting challenge.
“Just to be here is an achievement for all of us in itself. You look at the list of 15 in training camp and every single player makes you think ‘wow, they’re so talented’, so to be here is definitely a privilege and an opportunity I am very grateful to have.”
Once training camp concludes, it’s straight to Slovenia for Coach Buceta’s side, where a group including France, Germany and Slovenia stands in between GB and a place in the knockout stages.
A challenging group of teams for GB to have to contend with, Nikitinaite speaks of how excited the team should be for the opportunity and the challenge, and insists they won’t be daunted by the challenge.
“The exposure for Great Britain at EuroBasket is a huge opportunity for us to grow the game in this country. To share the court with other great teams is a great opportunity for us and we’re excited for a big atmosphere against really good teams.
“We know how good France, Germany and Slovenia are and that it is going to be really tough for us, but it’s an exciting ‘tough’ rather than something to be scared of. We’re not going to shy away from the challenge, we’re ready for it and whatever is ahead for us.
“We have to embrace the opportunity we have and I guarantee if you speak to any of the players and staff, we’re all in the same mindset and ready for whatever lays ahead of us in the next few weeks.”
Further information on where you can tune in to watch Great Britain in action at Women’s EuroBasket 2023 will be shared in due course, as well as any watch information for the friendly fixtures against Czech Republic and France on June 1, 2, 9 and 10 respectively.