Sophomore forward and center for the Montclair State University men’s basketball team Peter Obertan Jr. did not have the start he hoped for in his college basketball career. Coming off a freshman year missed due to injury, Obertan had to work extra hard to get back into the game once he was cleared.
The exercise science major from Iselin, New Jersey, suffered from a super-ventricular tachycardia in his heart, which caused it to beat too fast while exercising. Due to this, Obertan was not cleared to play once the basketball season rolled around.
Despite his troubles and the entire season he had to take off, Obertan found a way to bounce back and continue his college basketball career for his sophomore season.
“It was extremely tough taking a year off due to injury because I couldn’t be out there getting better with my teammates,” Obertan said. “As a competitor and a lover of the sport, not being able to play basketball for an extended period of time was really hard because I spent [the] majority of my days doing that and it was taken away from me. All I could do is trust the process and get better day by day in the summer.”
Obertan started building his basketball skills early, playing on his first team in the sixth grade. His tall and broad appearance gave him the perfect body shape that a basketball player needs.
His skills only grew as he continued to play the sport all throughout middle school, high school and now into college.
“I think my size and mobility give me an edge when it comes to basketball,” Obertan said. “I can spread the court with my shooting, and I can move well for my height and position.”
Standing at 6 foot 8 inches tall, it seems like Obertan was born to play basketball. Although he does not have a lot of stats due to his injury, it is still easy to tell that Obertan makes an impact on the court.
He helped bring the Red Hawks to a win against City College of New York in the Ollie Gelston Classic with a three-point play late in the second half of the game, giving Montclair State a 99-72 lead.
Only playing in three games so far this season, Obertan took advantage of the opportunities he received.
“Personally, I’m still coming back from my injury and working hard to get back to where I was prior to taking the year off,” Obertan said. “My overall goal is to go in and make an impact wherever needed and however possible.”
Proof that Obertan makes an impact both on and off the court comes from teammate and friend Joseph Radi, a sophomore forward from Monsey, New York. As a close friend of Obertan’s, Radi knows first-hand the impact Obertan makes.
“Obertan is a great teammate. He knows the game and he brings a sense of humor to the team and is a great locker room guy as well,” Radi said. “He works and plays very hard. He is the definition of a tough player.”
The time off last season gave Obertan the opportunity to really understand his strengths and weaknesses when it comes to basketball. Being able to pinpoint what you are good at and what needs work is key in becoming a versatile player. He talked about how shooting and rebounding are at top notch right now, while his speed and agility need some work.
Another factor in Obertan’s success when it comes to basketball comes from good morals and being inspired by his parents. Having a good head on your shoulders is essential for being a successful student-athlete.
With Obertan coming from a family whose parents immigrated from Slovakia as well as being born there, he sees how hard work and persistence help you reach your goals in life.
“My parents inspire me when it comes to basketball because ever since they came to America, they’ve been working extremely hard to achieve the goals they set for themselves and their family,” Obertan said. “Seeing that growing up inspired me to go after what I really wanted and that was to play basketball at a high level.”
Being able to balance your goals and personal life is especially important for student-athletes. Obertan has a variety of goals, both on and off the court. He stressed that his focus remains on being a student first, while still working hard on the basketball court and taking some time for himself to be adventurous.
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Obertan even wants to take his basketball skills to the next level by wanting to pursue playing the sport overseas.
“I want to continue on and play overseas since I already have a European passport and love Europe in general,” Obertan said. “Outside of basketball, my goal is to become a podiatrist or a physical therapist.”
Obertan uses basketball to fulfill his dreams as well as reach his goals. Keeping basketball and school separate is good at times, but there are many aspects of the game that help Obertan to work toward his goals.
“Basketball is helping me reach my goals because it instills hard work, responsibility and discipline into my daily life,” Obertan said. “That helps me work hard off the court and make sure I’m getting everything done to the best of my ability.”
Overall, Obertan has had a great experience being on the Montclair State men’s basketball team. Team chemistry is key for having a successful team and that aspect is present with this team.
“Being on the basketball team is an amazing experience because of all the great people I met because of it,” Obertan said. “They have truly turned into my family away from home.”
The team is now 8-2 this season and will get the chance to continue their great start during break on Dec. 30 against Williams College and Dec. 31 against Virginia Wesleyan University. Obertan is excited to keep his sophomore season going strong and looks to help the team out as much as he can.
“I’m feeling really good about this season for our team,” Obertan said. “We truly have become a family, and we have great chemistry together on the court because of it. We’ve had a great start to the season and are looking to keep that success going.”