Penn will be present at FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2021 in the form of Nikola Kovacikova, who will be competing for the Slovakian women’s national team.
Kovacikova is a rising senior on Penn women’s basketball, though she has yet to play a single game as a Quaker. Her freshman and sophomore years were spent playing for Georgetown and she then transferred to Penn. Upon her arrival, though, the 2020-21 season was canceled, so in the one year she could have played for Penn, she was unable to.
While at Georgetown, the Krskany, Slovakia native won the team’s Newcomer of the Year Award during her freshman year and was the third-leading scorer on the team during her sophomore season, averaging 7.9 points per game.
When her transfer to Penn was announced, Penn women’s basketball coach Mike McLaughlin had nothing but praise to offer up about Kovacikova.
"Our coaching staff knew within minutes of the recruiting process that Nikola was a perfect fit for Penn," he said via Penn Athletics. "She is a well-rounded student-athlete who is the ultimate competitor and exhibits a strong love and passion for the game of basketball. Niki is an extremely tough player and phenomenal teammate who gives us a lot of flexibility at the guard position. With the high level of experience she has, both at the collegiate level and internationally, Niki brings the maturity and leadership skills to make an immediate impact on our program."
Kovacikova has experience playing on the international stage as she previously competed for the Slovakian Senior National Team at the 2018 EuroBasket, where they finished in eighth place. Additionally, Kovacikova has been a part of the national team pool for several years and won a silver medal at the European U-20 Championship.
She also comes in with family ties to the Slovakian women’s basketball program. Kovacikova’s mother Viera competed for Slovakia in the 1990s and won a silver medal with the team at the 1997 EuroBasket. That tournament happens to be the last time that Slovakia earned a medal at a FIBA event.
Kovacikova, who plays guard for Penn, will be a point guard for Slovakia. Of the 12 members of the team, she is the second youngest at 22 years old and is four years younger than the team average of 26. In regards to height, the team average is 6’0”, and Kovacikova sits just under that at 5’11”.
Slovakia will begin the tournament in Group A alongside Spain, Sweden, and Belarus, which means they’ll play each of those teams once. Their first game is against Sweden on Thursday, June 17 at 6:00 a.m. ET.