Northern Illinois senior Aksel Bolin isn’t new to representing his home nation of Norway on the international stage.
In the past, he’s competed in the European National Championships, and he is playing for his home country at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Bolin had six points as Norway opened the tournament with a 94-71 loss to Lithuania on Sunday, and added another six in his team’s 106-74 win over China on Monday.
Norway continues tournament play Wednesday against Finland, and concludes the preliminary round by taking on Chile on Thursday and Brazil on Friday.
Bolin took some time to talk about about competing for his country at the tournament. The following is an edited transcript:
How did you end up getting a roster spot for Norway?
Bolin: The U23 national team is a team (with players) born between 1989 and 1991 and we have made big things happen with this squad through previous national teams in the U16, U18 and U20. We had around 20 to 25 guys at the first tryouts but narrowed it down to the guys that have been the biggest factors for our success during previous years and that know how to play together.
You’ve competed with the Norwegian national team before, at the European National Championships from 2007 through 2010. What has the experience been like?
I’ve played with the U16, U18, U20 and the senior team and it has always been a great experience coming into different tournaments being the underdog and beating bigger teams.
What does it mean to represent your country in an event like this? Norway is in a pool with Brazil, Chile, China, Finland and Lithuania. Where do you think your toughest competition will be?
It is huge to represent my country in Russia. This event is similar to the Olympics and everybody is looking up to you. We have around 100 athletes traveling from Norway and representing in different sports. It is a great honor playing with our country’s flag on our chests. The best teams in our group should be Lithuania, China and Brazil.
In international competition, are there any rule changes or differences from NCAA competition that you really have to get used to?
The main differences are that the shot clock is at 24 seconds and that there are four quarters instead of two halves.
Have you ever been to Russia before? Anything you’re looking forward to doing in Kazan during your down time?
I’ve never been to Russia before, so I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to going to watch a lot of different sports and playing some really high-level basketball.