The name of Dejan Musli is no longer a secret in basketball circles since he showed what he was capable of by leading Serbia & Montenegro to a bronze medal in last year’s Termosteps U16 European Championship Men in Spain – as a 15-year-old.
The spotlight back then though was firmly on Ricard Rubio, and rightfully so.
But, had it not been for the impressive performance of the Spanish star point guard, there is no doubt Musli would have been the revelation of the tournament.
For those who thought he couldn’t do much more to impress, the 212 cm centre certainly prove them wrong in this year’s competition when he recorded a triple double of 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 blocks in Serbia’s final group game, a win over France.
|Musli has been a force inside for Serbia, averaging 15.6 pts., 10.8 reb. and five blocks per game. |
He was equally impressive two days later when he scored 28 points, pulled down 12 boards and swatted five shots in only 21 minutes in defeat of Georgia.
It may be a stereotype, but it does seem that the sky is the limit for the native of Prizren.
For now though, he is fully focused on just one thing: helping Serbia to a gold medal at this year’s Termosteps U16 European Championship in Crete.
FIBA Europe caught up with him ahead of Serbia’s last qualifying round match against the defending champions Spain.
FIBA Europe: Coming into this year’s tournament, how helpful was it for you that you had already played in an U16 competition?
Musli: It was very useful. I played a lot last year and I got to experience the team’s system and that is a big bonus. I know how to approach the games better now because I have had to do it so much.
FIBA Europe: How does this team compare to last year’s? Do you think you can win the tournament with this squad?
Musli: I think the atmosphere is a bit better in this team compared to last year’s. Last year we were drawn in a tough group and then we lost to Russia in the semi-final so that was a good performance, but this year we can win the gold.
FIBA Europe: Serbia is known for producing some great big men. Is there anyone that you idolise and/or pattern you game after?
Musli: No not really. I just want to have my own style and not be called the next so and so. I play my game and don’t concern myself with what people think of who it reminds them of.
FIBA Europe: You’re the tallest player in this tournament and so far there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can stop you or even slow you down. Is it tough for you to find a challenge and to be motivated for every game?
Musli: It’s not a problem for me to get motivated. Every game is different and offers a new challenge. I always want to play my best so that’s what I aim for. I want to make sure I try as hard as I can.
FIBA Europe: You had a good battle against Italy’s Nicolo Melli in last night’s game. What do you make of him as a player?
Musli: I don’t really think anything of him but he is a good player.
FIBA Europe: What are your thoughts ahead of tonight’s game against Spain? How confident are you going up against the defending champions?
Musli: I’m confident that we’re going to win. I think we are a better team, the best in the tournament. It’s going to be a tough game of course, but I’m sure that we will be the winners.
FIBA Europe: You had a triple-double that included 12 blocks a few nights ago. What part of the game do you enjoy the most – defense or offense?
Musli: I like playing both but my offense is a result of my defense. If I do a good job defending then it pushes me even more to do well at the other end of the court.
FIBA Europe: If we talk to you again on Sunday, do you think you will have a gold medal around your neck?
Musli: Yeah I’m sure of it.