July 24, 2012
Senior Danielle Hamilton-Carter, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, spent most of the summer playing with the Swedish national team in EuroBasket 2013 qualifying. The team won group D, which included heavy favorite Spain, and will play in EuroBasket 2013 next summer in France. Hamilton-Carter wrote a recap of her time in Europe for RamblinWreck.com.
After six weeks, playing 13 games in five different countries, and adding countless practices, we made history with the Swedish national team, securing our advancement to the European Championship for the first time since 1984.
It all started after three weeks of intense workouts and classes when I came back to Sweden on June 2. This was my first time being home since last summer, but only two days later I was on a plane headed to Kaunas, Lithuania, for the first preparation tournament with the national team.
Our team had one clear goal for this summer: to qualify for the 2013 European Championship in France. However, our journey together did not start with the pre-tournament in Lithuania, it sparked off over five years ago.
In 2007, I was a part of the team that made history as we became the first Swedish team to ever compete in the Under-19 World Championship and we shocked the basketball world as we made it all the way to the championship game. Now five years later we were all back together, playing on a senior level, facing our toughest challenge yet.
The tournament in Lithuania proved to be good practice as we played against strong teams such as Latvia and Spain, who we would also face in the qualification, and lastly the hosting nation, Lithuania.
After the five tournament games we had two days to spend with our families back in Sweden, but again it was a quick turnaround as our first game was away against Romania, outside the capital of Sofia. Romania came out strong and the opening game would be our first loss in the tournament. A loss in the opening game can be a big setback since only two of the six teams in each group will be able to advance to the 2013 European Championship in France. However, the loss against Romania was a great motivator as we returned to Sweden for our home opener against Spain.
Spain was without a doubt the favorite to win our group as they are fifth on FIBA’s world ranking. This highly-experienced team was going to be our toughest challenge, but we didn’t allow anything to intimidate us and we proved that rankings have no meaning. In front of friends and family in Södertälje, Sweden, we took down one of the greatest basketball nations with a nine point win. Our first win in the tournament was described as “the greatest win in Swedish basketball history.”
From then on we let nothing stop us from achieving our goal as we continued our journey together. There is no greater feeling than when you reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in. That feeling overwhelmed us as we once again stood as the winners after a rematch against Spain on its home court in Alcobendas. We returned home to Sweden to secure our place in the 2013 European Championship with a 20-point win against Bulgaria.
Now, just days after the final game in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, it has finally set in that my summer with the national team has come to an end. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to play both with and against some of the best players in Europe. Writing this, I am only a few hours away from making my long journey from Stockholm back to Atlanta and Georgia Tech. I couldn’t be more excited and motivated to come back and reunite with my teammates, preparing for what’s going to be another great season with the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team.
Hope to see you all November 11th at the brand new McCamish Pavilion against Tennessee!!
Dani Hamilton Carter