Born and raised in Singkawang, Julia said that her brother, Lukas Tan, passed away while he was in high school. He used to play basketball at school and often told her that he wanted to become a professional athlete, she recalled.
"He was my role model. He was the first one who introduced and motivated me to engage in basketball. Now, I feel like I should continue his efforts and dreams and be grateful to join the PON basketball team," she told ANTARA.
She said her brother had coached her and had never stopped encouraging her to play. He had trained her hard and motivated her to give her best to the team, she added. Julia said she often remembers him now.
"With persistent training, I have collected a number of achievements since I was in school until university," Julia said.
She says that the memory of Lukas always motivates her to do the best for her team and her city.
She also revealed several challenges that she had to overcome to play basketball professionally. The sport requires athletes to build extraordinary perseverance during practice because the techniques and the rules of basketball are quite complicated, Julia said adding, their uniqueness made her become more interested in the game.
"Basketball has a variety of techniques to be explored, so it does not make you bored. Sometimes there is a certain satisfaction if you succeed in making points. Most importantly, from basketball, we can get to know a lot of friends," she remarked.
Speaking on preparations for Papua PON, Julia admitted that 90 percent of her team is currently focusing on shooting accuracy, pattern strengthening, and cohesiveness through scrimmage games with other basketball clubs in West Kalimantan.
She said she and her colleagues practice regularly at the Perbasi Sports Center every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and take a break from practice on Wednesday and Sunday.
"To keep our stamina on the best performance, of course, we have to exercise every day. In addition, eating patterns and sleeping patterns must also be regulated, such as taking vitamins and getting enough sleep. We also consume vegetables and fruits regularly," she informed.
With all the preparations they have made, she said she and her team members are optimistic that they will qualify for the preliminary round. They also hope to reach the semifinals, and even, the final, she said.
"We will absolutely give the maximum performance and bring home a medal for West Kalimantan," Julia said.
She also talked about the growing development of basketball in West Kalimantan, especially in Pontianak, the provincial capital. The development can be seen from the frequent matches between clubs, Julia said.
"Clubs in Pontianak are also active until now. So far, we can count on the regeneration. However, in my opinion, they need to improve and continue inter-club matches to make basketball players in the area have more motivation for training," she suggested.
"Perhaps licensed basketball coaches can build a basketball academy for young players in West Kalimantan. Hopefully, they can be trained from an early age," she added.
The 23-year-old athlete said she is confident of competing in the Papua PON given her previous experience in several championships. She said she had participated in the 3x3 Pre-PON Women's Basketball event, which made her eligible for competing in the 3x3 women's basketball competition at the XX Papua PON.
Julia further informed that her team won the 3x3 women's open tournament at the 2018 Sumpah Pemuda Cup, came second place in the 3x3 women's open tournament at the 2019 Sumpah Pemuda Cup, finished as runners up at the 3x3 women's basketball in the 2018 JCM , won the first place in the 3x3 women's tournament at the 2020 KFC, was chosen as DBL West Kalimantan's first team in 2014, finished as runners up at the 3x3 2019 Fistcup, emerged as champions at the BPJ 3X3 College 2019, and won the first place in the 3x3 Saint Alfonsus Cup 2019.
She said she was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the 3x3 women's basketball event in the 2018 JCM.
The XX Papua PON is scheduled to start on October 2 and end on October 15, 2021. The slogan for PON this year is 'Torang Bisa!' or 'We can do it!' Athletes from 37 sport branches will compete in Papua PON this year, while 10 exhibition sport branches will be introduced for the 2024 Aceh and North Sumatra PON, officials said.
The multisport event will take place across 49 venues in four districts and cities: Jayapura city, Jayapura district, Mimika district, and Merauke district. The Lukas Enembe Stadium in Jayapura will serve as the main venue for the PON.
Jayapura city will host events from 16 sport branches at 16 venues, Jayapura district will host competitions from 14 sport branches at 14 venues, Mimika district will host events from 8 sport branches at 9 venues, while Merauke district will host competitions from 6 sport branches at 5 venues.
Several matches are scheduled to take place before the opening ceremony next week, including the men's softball, water polo, baseball, paragliding, and wushu.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision on the entry of spectators is still on hold. Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said that a decision will be taken at the cabinet meeting with President Joko Widodo this week. While making the decision, vaccination coverage in the four XX Papua PON clusters will be taken into account, he informed.
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