Out in Western Sydney almost two decades ago, a young Nic Pozoglou picked up a basketball in a town where rugby league was favoured.

The now 25-year-old has since gone on to travel all over Australia, joining the country’s top basketball league. Pozoglou’s 2021 season was spent with Perth’s Cockburn Cougars, where he was named the NBL1 West Defensive Player of the Year and also won the MVP award after averaging 17 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Since the agent ended in August, the young basketballer has become a free agent with his sights set on making it to Greece one day with his partner.

“I never expected to kind of have a girlfriend when I was, I think at the time I might have been 21 or 22. Being able to share the experience and share the stress, share the good times, the bad times with someone, I think that’s been a big thing that I’ve been thankful for. The relationship with my girlfriend is pretty special,” Pozoglou told Neos Kosmos.

As Pozoglou awaits to see where the new year will take him be it on or off the court, he knows his drive and determination will take him wherever he aspires to get to, despite the challenges in the Australian sports sphere.

“Being in professional sports, especially in Australia, it can be tough, especially within Australian basketball. There are not many teams, so there’s not many spots and it can become a bit of a political game rather than how good you are, so I guess that’s put a bit of a stain on how I see some things up, but I mean working hard is always the way through.”

His biggest obstacle standing in his way of playing over in his father’s motherland is just a lot of bureaucracy. As Pozoglou awaits all of the red tape to be sorted to get his very own Greek passport in his hands, he talks to us about leaving behind a positive legacy and his championship victory.

READ MORE: The North Star: Q&A with St Mary’s Erini Gikas

What drew you to basketball?

I grew up in Penrith so it was very much a rugby league base and that’s what I started playing. That was just the big sport in town. Then I used to play basketball during lunchtime at primary school and then a few of the basketball players asked me to come and try out and I did. Ever since then my love and the passion has just grown for it since then.

It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?

I used to really try and focus on getting in the zone, but then more often than not, I’d end up sabotaging myself because I just worry too much about what was going on. Now I just like to not really think about it. I just like to go about my day as usual and do more relaxing things and when it gets around to game time I’ll flip the switch on, but before that I just like to relax more than anything.

Top three training songs?

It changes so much. I’ll go with No Church in the Wild. I’d love to say the Zorba but no one else knows what I’m listening to if I put that on. Usually I like to go with something like Drake. I’ll go with Gods Plan by Drake and Jumpman. That’s always a good one for basketball.

What do you find most challenging about the game?

I mean it changes from game to game, but because it is a team sport, I guess the most challenging thing is just game after game, trying to grow as a team, trying to grow as a unit and getting everyone on the same page.

If everyone isn’t on the same page you don’t win and that’s kind of what you get out there on the court to do. You don’t go out there for individual success, you go out there for team success.

What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?

Probably winning the NBL Championship in 2020 just before COVID was hitting. It was weird winning the way that we did. We found out in one of the Wildcats training centre rooms over a zoom meeting that we’ve won rather than the buzzer going off and the elation and that kind of thing. It was weird to win like that, but at the end of the day, we still won, and having that ring and that championship is probably the highlight.

How has basketball impacted your life?

My life revolves around basketball. II moved out of home for the first time and I think I was about 20 and ever since then I’ve moved every six months whether it be Wollongong, Ballarat, Melbourne, Perth, Ballarat again, Melbourne again and then back to Perth. I’ve been all over the country and hopefully I’ll be in Greece one day very soon as soon as my passport comes through like I’ve been waiting to do for years.

I met my partner through basketball, I’ve met some of my best friends through basketball and some of the best life experiences I’ve had have come as a result of basketball as well.

What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?

That you can’t control much of what goes on in this life. I used to be a very controlling person. I wanted to control every situation I was in, but you can only train hard and play hard.

That’s pretty much all you can do and it’s the same in life. As long as you work hard and be a good person that’s all you can really do. You’re always going to have people that screw you over and people that you have to wait on (like the Greek consulate) and you can’t get too mad and too frustrated those things. It is what it is and you just have to take a chill pill and just ride the waves as they come.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

In about a year I hope to finish the university degree I’m currently doing online at the moment and then in the next year, I’d love to be able to say that I have my passport in hand and I’d be on the next plane over to Athens to play for a team in Greece and live out live out one of my biggest dreams or rather my biggest dream of playing in Europe.

What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?

Other than my last name, I think people are surprised when I tell them that I’m Greek. I don’t have the really olive skin, I don’t really have I guess the ‘Greek accent’ or the little cultural things and I’m a bit taller than most Greeks as well. I think my yiayia used to tell me when I was about 5 foot 7 that I was too tall and needed to stop growing.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

With a very large meal of some sort. Usually some kind of restaurant or takeaway meal, but I love a really good big meal and a dessert maybe. It depends, if the game is on a bit earlier I’d have it that day, otherwise I’ll save it for the next day. If we have a late day sometimes I don’t get home until around 11 o’clock and the only thing open then is McDonalds and I don’t want to waste my cheat meal on that.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

Getting out of COVID and being able to see everyone again, being able to see my family again and my partner’s family and being able to leave the country as well. My partner and I definitely have aspirations to go to Europe for at least a holiday together. Just being able to get everything back to normal.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

achievements might mean something to some people in the present, but it really leaves a stain, especially in a team sport, if people look back and think ‘oh yeah, he was a good player, but he was a bit of an a******’ and they didn’t really want to be around you. You’re very well respected if you’re a good person and people remember that over your individual or team achievements.