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27 November 2018 | in FISU Athletes, 3x3 Basketball, University World Cup 3x3

Maja Jakobcic - tall baller with high ideals

She’s nearly 6 feet 2 inches tall, loves shopping and never rests on her laurels.


“I just want to be better than I was yesterday,” says a smiling Maja Jakobcic. “And that is what is pushing me forward in basketball and in life.”


Meet this pharmacy student from Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana who also happens to be a basketball player par excellence. Along with her three teammates, Jakobcic finished 4th at the recently concluded 3x3 FISU World University League 2018 Finals held in Xiamen, China. The tournament brought together the world’s best university 3x3 teams for an intense four days of competition. For Jakobcic though, missing out on the podium was a disappointment as her team lost out to Chinese Culture University of Taipei in the bronze medal match.  

 “We were a little bit disappointed because we knew we could have done better,” she says ruefully. “If Ela (Stergar) hadn’t got injured maybe the result would have been different. But we gave our best on the court and for that, I am really proud of my teammates.”


There was a silver lining for Jakobcic though, as she won the hugely popular women’s shootout contest hands down, with a total of 14 points, scoring all three money-balls worth 2 points each in the end. That was just one point short of the all-time record. She’d have taken a team medal over it any day, but laughs as she describes how surprised she was to have won the shootout.


“Honestly, I wasn't expecting to do nearly as well as I did, but now I'm quite proud of my result!”


Not a bad result indeed for someone who just happened to stroll onto the basketball court as a child, without any specific plans to do so. Things just happened to her and fell into place, she says.


“I started playing basketball at the age of six only because my older brother Rok was playing it and he was always a role model for me. Competitive basketball began a bit later when my coaches saw I was a little bit better than other girls my age.”


Playing ball hasn’t always been easy either. With only three universities in all of Slovenia and a really tough schedule as a pharmacy student, playing university basketball is a constant challenge.


“It is very difficult to manage both, my studies and basketball,” she admits. “I can only miss one lesson per subject per semester, so this can be really difficult to manage sometimes. It takes a lot of planning and time management from me to able to do it. and.Also, my basketball club makes a few adjustments for me otherwise I just wouldn’t be able to.”


It’s much the same for the entire quartet, in fact, with 3 out of 4 young women studying for demanding degrees in science. 


“Yes, we are a 75% science team,” she laughs. “Sara studies medicine, Ela studies microbiology, Eva studies sport and I study pharmacy.”


The 3x3 FISU World University League 2018 Finals were a real treat for them, then. The opportunity to travel, play against the best teams in the world and learn about other cultures was one they all relished.


“I think the tournament was organised at the highest level possible and all the teams playing showed us some high-quality basketball,” Jakobcic tells FISU.


“The atmosphere is electric and I think Chinese people really know how to encourage all teams, not just the home ones.”


Her only grouse? “I found it really difficult to change Euros to Yuan,” she exclaims. “It took us 45 minutes at the bank to go through the process.”


Back home in Slovenia now, Maja Jakobcic plans to continue playing ball, finish school and go for long walks with her dog Neli. There is a relaxed vibe about her and her approach to life that is unmissable.


“I don’t have any particular plans in basketball, just to play it for as long as I can,” she says. “I just want to have my loved ones by my side forever and to be healthy and happy.”


Tall girl, high ideals.