|Mirza Teletovic moved to Vitoria-Gasteiz and joined Spanish powerhouse Baskonia when he was just 20 years old|
By Jeff Taylor
Mirza Teletovic was named the Revelation of the Season in Spain's top flight with (Tau) Baskonia back in 2008.
The 2.06m Bosnian forward did so many things well for a player of his size, like bury one three-ball after another, that jaws dropped.
He was a mixture of power, finesse and clutch play.
In the years since, Teletovic has had some injury problems but nothing has lessened his impact on the floor for (now Caja Laboral) Baskonia.
That has been especially evident this season, one that is shaping up to be his best.
The native of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is pouring in 16.9 points per game.
He continues to hurt teams from behind the arc, shooting 36% (57 of 158) while inside the three-point line, Teletovic is burying 52% (123 of 235) of his shots.
In 14 of Baskonia's 28 games, he has scored 19 points or more.
Teletovic is crashing the boards and pulling down an average of 7.6 rebounds.
The performances have, not surprisingly, fueled speculation that Teletovic could follow in the footsteps of former Baskonia teammates Luis Scola and Tiago Splitter and play in the NBA next season.
"Now, I'm not thinking about that," he said.
"We're only focused on winning games here."
Baskonia, with 20 victories in the Liga Endesa, have all but secured third spot in the regular season and are only one win behind Real Madrid after defeating the Spanish capital giants on Monday night.
THE TEAM ETHOS
In the Basque country, Teletovic has had the opportunity to play for a couple of very good coaches.
He won a title in 2008 under Neven Spahija and in 2010, Teletovic was in the Dusko Ivanovic-coached side that swept Barcelona in the ACB Finals just weeks after the Catalans' Euroleague title triumph in Paris.
Baskonia have had some changes in personnel and they didn't win this year's Copa del Rey or challenge for a European title.
But the philosophy that has remained the same under Ivanovic will give the team, many think, a chance to capture another league crown.
Ivanovic demands that players practice hard, understand their roles in the team and execute.
"We're trying to play as a team because it's the only chance we have to win," Teletovic said to Basketball World News.
"We have only one title left and it's the league, so we're going to try and do our best to win it.
|The versatile forward will join his Bosnia and Herzegovina teammates under new coach Aco Petrovic in the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round this summer |
"It's going to be very difficult because there are some very good teams, but we're going to do our best."
PLAYING FOR A GREAT
It's hard to imagine Teletovic having a better teacher than Ivanovic.
"I learn a lot from him," he said.
"Dusko Ivanovic knows a lot about basketball because he was a player first and then has been a coach for many years.
"The most important thing is to learn from him. He's a great coach."
He also has the shining example of Pablo Prigioni, who at 34 remains one of the top point guards in Europe and is truly a coach on the floor.
"Pablo is a very experienced player and he brings something extra, something on defense," Teletovic said.
"He's a great character.
"He always goes as hard as he can and he motivates players."
THE NATIONAL TEAM
Teletovic had hoped to make his mark last summer in Lithuania at the EuroBasket with Bosnia and Herzegovina but things didn't go according to plan.
At the 24-team event, he averaged almost 14 points and six rebounds per game but the team won just two of their five games and didn't progress from the opening group stage.
In February, Bosnia and Herzegovina handed the national team reins to veteran tactician Aleksandar (Aco) Petrovic, a former national team boss of Croatia and the brother of the late Drazen Petrovic.
The team will take on Latvia, the Netherlands, Georgia and Romania in the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round.
Teletovic is optimistic.
"We have a new coach, now," Teletovic said.
"There are some good things going on with the Bosnian national team.
"They're organized and I think we're going to have a very good team for the summer, the qualifications."
For inquiring minds back home who would like to know if Teletovic will be in the Bosnia and Herzegovina line-up this summer, he has this answer.
"Of course," he said.