|05 September 2013|
|Mirza Teletovic is committed to the Bosnia and Herzegovina cause, playing a major role in earning his team a spot in Slovenia|
By Rob White
Success at EuroBasket hasn't been a term commonly associated with Bosnia and Herzegovina over recent decades, but Mirza Teletovic has humbly accepted the challenge of ushering in a new era of basketball for the Balkan nation.
The Bosnia and Herzegovinian playing group knows what is at stake. With just one quarter-finals appearance from seven EuroBasket campaigns (coming during the team's debut appearance in 1993) and just two wins at the tournament since 1999, Teletovic is the face of a deep team with a lot to prove.
The significance of their role in 2013 is not lost on the squad despite suffering a disappointing 86-75 loss in their opener against Latvia.
"Bosnia is a very small country and to be ambassadors in a basketball tournament like this for the country is very important for [the team] to show firstly EuroBasket that we have the qualities to succeed, and secondly, that we have come here and do whatever is necessary to win games," Teletovic told FIBAEurope.com.
Teletovic anchored Bosnia and Herzegovina's undefeated run through the qualifiers, but he wasn't alone- Nihad Djedovic, Zach Wright and Elmedin Kikanovic each chipped in, proving themselves as high-quality contributors capable of consistent double-digit scoring.
"I think we have great chemistry between the guys and we've played together, most of us, for three years," Teletovic said.
"We have a very young team with a lot of energy - we run up and down and have a good transition game."
"There's not really one guy we need to rely on. We have great team chemistry and if all the guys give their maximum on offence and defence it will become our biggest strength."
|"I think my understanding of the game continued to develop playing in the US last year, but you can't understand everything; it's impossible" - Mirza Teletovic |
An emerging contributor in 2012-13 for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, Teletovic's role is so much more than simply stretch power forward. He averaged 24 points and six rebounds in 10 qualification games before scoring a team-high 18 against Latvia in Bosnia's opening loss.
It is common knowledge the 206cm big man can score, almost at will (he scored 15 second-quarter points against Latvia in a dominant display), but Teletovic's is committed to leading his young side by example and ensuring the team is switched on at all times.
"I think my understanding of the game continued to develop playing in the US last year, but you can't understand everything; it's impossible," Teletovic said an evening prior to his team's game with Latvia.
"I played lots of years in Europe professionally then came to the States and had the experience of playing one year there.
"For me it's important to know both sides of basketball and when you are not playing you know how to behave, to practice harder and work, visualise and improve your skills and to personally improve yourself. I think I have improved a lot of things, especially mentally, which is very important."
Teletovic says the opening round of EuroBasket is a process the team needs to take one step at a time.
"A winning team requires five guys on the court with good chemistry," he said.
"I think I'm the guy that can them help out by talking to them, providing a little confidence or make us overall a little better. My goal is for us to make it out of the first round and go from there."