Looking at the roster for the U18 Get Better Academy Prague, one name stands out. Marek Welsch comes from a major basketball family in the Czech Republic, and that connection helped GBA to its first win at the EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Qualifying Tournament Marko Ivkovic Belgrade.
Welsch collected 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals as GBA beat U18 Spars Sarajevo 54-46 in its debut game in the competition.
"This means so much for our academy," Welsch said. "This is a huge tournament, but we came here not to just show ourselves, but to win the whole thing."
The 1.80-meter point guard, who will turn 18 years old in late October, said the victory also means a lot because Spars is a team that reached the final at ANGT Belgrade last season and twice has played at the ANGT Finals.
"It's going to help us because Spars is a great team, a finalist from last year," he said. "So we beat a great team and we have a lot of confidence right now for the coming games."
Welsch is one the main leaders of the GBA team as the only player with more than 30 minutes against Spars. And there is a rich history of basketball running through his blood.
His father Petr Welsch played professionally for years, mainly in the Czech Republic and Poland. He said his father retired due to injury when Marek was 10 years old. And Marek's uncle is Jiri Welsch, who played in the EuroLeague with Union Olimpija Ljubljana and Unicaja Malaga. Jiri, who is still playing, also competed for four NBA teams between 2002 and 2006. When he gets the chance, Marek still watches his uncle play for Czech giant CEZ Nymburk.
"Basketball is basically the only sport in our family," Welsch said. "Everyone has been through it. I want to keep grinding and become a pro and then pass the torch to another generation."
The sport gives Marek a strong bond with his father.
"We talk about basketball 24/7. He helps me a lot with my game. After my game is finished, I go home and watch it again with my dad. We analyse it and talk about my weaknesses so I can work on them," said the younger Welsch.
"My uncle doesn't have as much time because he's still playing, but when we meet we also talk basketball."
That love for the game has carried the Welsch family to big success and Marek Welsch hopes to keep it going. He has already helped GBA write history at the ANGT Belgrade!