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English Macedonian

An Interview with Rok Stipčević, A Basketball Player

Hi everyone. Today, I am pleased to present Rok Stipčević, a Croatian basketball player currently playing for KK Krka from Slovenia and the National Team of Croatia.

Rok started his basketball career in 2003 in KK Zadar and played there for seven years. During that period, he was on loan in the season 2005/06 in KK Sonik Puntamika. After that, he transferred to KK Cibona and stayed there for only one season.

Moreover, after his journey in the domestic league, he continued on an international level. His first international club was Pallacanestro Varese, and since then, he has had great success and played for many clubs, including Olimpia Milano, U.S. Victoria Libertas Pallacanestro, Tofaş S.K. Furthermore, he joined Virtus Roma, Dinamo Sassari, BC Rytas Vilnius, Fortitudo Bologna, and KK Krka.

During his successful career, he won twice the Croatian League and Cup and also the Lithuanian and Slovenian Cup. Recently, Rok had an amazing performance for Krka in which he scored nine three-pointers out of ten shots. Therefore, with this incredible game, he set the record of the third-best 3-point scoring achievement by any player in the league’s history in an AdmiralBet ABA League game.

Rok Stipčević has a very dynamic and exciting career, so I’m sure you can’t wait to hear it. Let’s jump on this interview.

    Tose Zafirov

    Mr. Olympia Representative

    Hi everyone. Today, I am pleased to present Rok Stipčević, a Croatian basketball player currently playing for KK Krka from Slovenia and the National Team of Croatia.

    Rok started his basketball career in 2003 in KK Zadar and played there for seven years. During that period, he was on loan in the season 2005/06 in KK Sonik Puntamika. After that, he transferred to KK Cibona and stayed there for only one season.

    Moreover, after his journey in the domestic league, he continued on an international level. His first international club was Pallacanestro Varese, and since then, he has had great success and played for many clubs, including Olimpia Milano, U.S. Victoria Libertas Pallacanestro, Tofaş S.K. Furthermore, he joined Virtus Roma, Dinamo Sassari, BC Rytas Vilnius, Fortitudo Bologna, and KK Krka.

    During his successful career, he won twice the Croatian League and Cup and also the Lithuanian and Slovenian Cup. Recently, Rok had an amazing performance for Krka in which he scored nine three-pointers out of ten shots. Therefore, with this incredible game, he set the record of the third-best 3-point scoring achievement by any player in the league’s history in an AdmiralBet ABA League game.

    Rok Stipčević has a very dynamic and exciting career, so I’m sure you can’t wait to hear it. Let’s jump on this interview.

    Tose Zafirov:

    Can you briefly introduce yourself to the audience? Furthermore, what inspired you to seek a professional career in this sport, and how did you fall in love with it?

    Rok Stipčević:

    Hello, I’m Rok Stipčević, a professional basketball player and national team player of Croatia for 19 years. I started my career in the basketball club Zadar in Croatia. Later, I played for many European clubs, and now I play in Slovenia. For most of my career, I played in Italy. Therefore, I have nine professional seasons in Italy, one in Turkey, one in Lithuania, seven in Croatia, and this is my second one in Slovenia.

    I discovered my love for this sport in my hometown. There was a war at the time in ex-Yugoslavia, and the closest thing I had next to my house was a basketball court. Therefore, I played basketball there to avoid going far away from home. Also, my city is very famous for basketball, and all of my friends were playing basketball at that time, so I discovered a love for this game very early, at seven years old. Moreover, I was also practicing singing, football, and tennis, but the only thing that remained was the real love I felt for basketball.

    At the same time, Jordan was in his prime time, and I really admired him, which made my love for basketball even stronger. During that time, I became one of the best in my hometown and found an individual basketball coach. So, I invested in myself, and my only goal was to play in the basketball club Zadar. At the age of 17, I reached that goal, but then I had another one, and that was to play for the national team. After that, I also reached my second goal and continued to move forward.

    Tose Zafirov:

    How do you get ready for a match? Furthermore, do you practice any particular rituals, and if so, why?

    Rok Stipčević:

    When I was young and I had a game, I was quiet the whole day, and I didn’t want anyone to disturb me. To make that happen, I distanced myself from everyone, maybe because I wasn’t ready to confront a stressful situation. Nowadays, I’m more experienced and prepared for practice because, for me, practice is just as important as the game.

    However, there is no big difference between practice and a game, and I don’t have any special rituals except coffee and espresso.

    Tose Zafirov:

    Do you follow a particular exercise and nutrition plan? Additionally, do you usually go to the gym before a game?

    Rok Stipčević:

    Yes, actually, I became a vegetarian two years ago, and I take care of my nutrition a lot. I’m trying to give my body everything it needs, and I’m starting to see the benefits more and more. When it comes to nutrition, you should be consistent and take time because there isn’t a thing that will work in a day, week, or month.

    On the subject of fitness, I did fitness when I was young, right before the game, exercises like push press, bench, and squats. Nowadays I do it a little bit less, usually around three times a week, in order to stay in shape and to be ready to do any task the club gives me.

    Tose Zafirov:

    Your career is very successful and exciting. You’ve participated in several national championships, including those in Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Lithuania, and Slovenia right now. So, which league do you like most, and is the most competitive?

    Rok Stipčević:

    I would say that each competition is different and competitive because there is no player in the world that plays to lose. Therefore, every player is playing for the win. Maybe it’s a different approach, but I can say that Italian basketball is more dynamic and athletic, and there is more running.

    Furthermore, Lithuanian basketball is more physical and static. On the other hand, Turkish basketball is a lot more about running. Additionally, Croatian basketball is an intelligent game; like playing a game of chess, you need to think about what you’re doing. I will compare Slovenia with Croatia, but if I have to mark one, I will say that for me, the best time was in Italy, and I mostly enjoyed my time there.

    Tose Zafirov:

    We both realize that every sport has its own ups and downs. Therefore, how can you maintain motivation after a game you lose? Also, how can you control your anger when the referee’s decision doesn’t go your way?

    Rok Stipčević:

    Losing is part of the game. The day after the loss, I say to myself that the previous day is in the past. Therefore, I don’t focus too much on the past; instead, I focus on the future. I just want to be the best I can be and be in the best possible shape.

    Furthermore, you must be relaxed because when you’re experiencing too much stress, you cannot give your best. You need to give it your best until the game comes, and when the game comes, you have to enjoy it. The decisions of the referee are also a part of the game. Sometimes it’s on our side; sometimes, it’s against us.

    Moreover, I don’t allow them to disturb my focus and my concentration because they cannot change the call, so I just speak to them but calmly. I don’t want them to mess with my head because when someone disturbs me, I’m not in my zone anymore.

    Tose Zafirov:

    You have been a member of the national team for almost ten years. Therefore, you participated in both the World Championship and EuroBasket. How does it feel to make your country proud?

    Rok Stipčević:

    Yes, I played in the world championship in Turkey. Additionally, I played two times in EuroBasket and in the Rio Olympic games. I think that the Olympic games are the best part of my career, something that is sacred and different. Therefore, that can not compare with the World Championship, EuroBasket, or any Championship, because it’s something crazy and different, and I will remember it for life.

    Every time I play for the national team, I’m proud because I’ve reached the goal that I had for myself when I was young. Representing your country to the world is something special and something that you live for; it’s a big responsibility. At the same time, you are proud because you see the flag, you hear the national anthem, you know the people that are behind you, and you have to give your best to make them proud.

    Tose Zafirov:

    What was the most important game you ever played, and why? Moreover, what have you learned from basketball?

    Rok Stipčević:

    There were a lot of games, I cannot mention only one, but I can mention a couple of them. For example, one of the most important games was winning the Championship in 2008 and going to the main square where 40.000 people were waiting for us and celebrating. Another important game was winning the Cup in Lithuania in 2018 when I played the last 4-5 minutes against Zalgiris, who was among the top 14 in Europe at the time. In addition, we were playing in front of 17.000 people in the arena.

    Sports taught me everything. It taught me how to work with my teammates, how to behave among others, how to manage my ego and character among other players and teams, and how to behave in different cultures and countries. Also, I traveled to a lot of countries; I met a lot of new people, and I made a lot of friendships. As a result, the message that I’m taking away is that you always have to try because if you don’t try, you have no idea what could happen. That’s a sport.

    If you shoot the ball, you have two things that can happen – you could either score or miss. But if you don’t shoot the ball, you never know if the ball will go in or out. It’s the same in life; you have to try to see the result. A lot of people are scared to try, but once you try, you get out of your comfort zone.

    Tose Zafirov:

    You competed in the ABA League and Euroleague. What makes these two championships different from one another?

    Rok Stipčević:

    I would say that the Euroleague is the highest competition after NBA since the physical approach is much tougher than in any other league.

    Adriatic (ABA) league is also great, there are a lot of young players, and I think that people from ex-Yugoslavia are very talented and very smart, and there are a lot of good players, not just in basketball but in every single field. We are very talented, and we don’t have to underestimate ourselves; we have to respect ourselves more than we do and work hard.

    Tose Zafirov:

    You played a lot of games in your career and have a lot of experience under your belt. How do you handle the pressure of performing in front of a crowd?

    Rok Stipčević:

    I don’t think much about the crowd. Sometimes I feel bad for them when we lose a game, but at the end of the day, it’s my burden to carry and not theirs because they are going to forget about it in a week or two, and I’m going to have to carry it myself forever.

    Maybe it’s selfish, but players have to put themselves in front of the crowd and everyone else, and they have to think about their teammates, coaches, and staff. Then, the most important part is families and after that is the crowd. I respect and love them, but there is a hierarchy, and you need to know where your place is.

    Tose Zafirov:

    What is your motto and your message for the world, especially for young basketball players?

    Rok Stipčević:

    Never listen to others who are telling you that you cannot do it because they are watching everything from their perspective. Therefore, if you want to reach something, you are going to reach it. Never ever give up, keep pushing, keep working, be smart, and always have a smile.

    Final Words

    Rok, thank you for your time. I wish you success in the future, and I hope that we will have a chance to talk again soon.

    If you want to find more details about Rok’s life, check out his official Wikipedia page.

    For more inspiring stories, feel free to check the Interviews page.

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