Kristinn Palsson never thought he would be on the court playing against superstar talents the likes of Luka Doncic, Rodions Kurucs and Stephane Gombauld at an event as prestigious as the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT finals. Not when he was growing up in the small town of Njarovik in Iceland. But the 1.97-meter guard more than held his own for Stellazzurra Basketball Academy Rome at the ANGT. And the 17-year-old is in the process of giving Icelandic basketball fans another exciting name to follow for the future.
Palsson was Stellazzurra’s top scorer with 11.3 points per game at the ANGT Finals in Madrid. He also led the team in average performance index rating (8) and steals (2 spg.) and ranked second in assists (2.7 apg.). Before that, Palsson helped Stellazzurra clinch a ticket to Madrid with 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 3.3 steals as his side won the Rome qualifying tournament.
Although Palsson has proven that he belongs on the court with the best of his age group in Europe, he still cannot believe it sometimes. “It’s a pretty amazing experience. I thought I would never be here, coming from a small country. It’s good to compare against the best placers in Europe,” Palsson said. “And these are really the best players in Europe. This is the best thing that could have happened. It’s amazing.”
Even though Palsson comes from a small town, he was able to shoot hoops from a young age. “I started at 6 years old because in my town they play a lot of basketball. It became a trend, so I started to play.”
He said his parents played basketball and his father, Pall Kristinsson, played for the Icelandic national team for a number of years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Palsson always looked up to a former national teammate friend of his father, Jon Stefansson, who currently plays at Unicaja Malaga and has played in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and Eurocup. “He’s always been one of my role models. I always wanted to go play professionally,” Palsson said. “So he’s been a role [model] for me.”
Palsson is one of a handful of up-and-coming players for an up-and-coming Icelandic squad. The Stellazzurra guard believes Iceland should now be considered among the top teams in Scandinavia. “I think we are one of the top teams and we can really fight against the others and really beat them. We just have to believe it.”
Palsson’s senior team compatriots have qualified for EuroBasket 2015 and will play against great teams like Spain, Serbia, Turkey, Italy and Germany in their group. “Now we have to see how good we are compared to the good teams,” Palsson said.
H will absolutely be rooting for the senior national team this summer and hopes to get his chance to suit up alongside those stars in years to come. Because the Stellazzurra guard has already proven that even if you are from Iceland, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream big in basketball.