One of the rising stars of basketball and a member of the platinum generation of Bosnian basketball talents did an interview with Eurobasket.com and shared some of his insight into his meteoric rise to the heights of basketball stardom. It was an a fairytale of a year for Jusuf Nurkic from relative unknown going into the season to a breakout series of games in the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade were the world was first exposed to the talents of a 17 year old wunderkind Jusuf Nurkic. He then got permission to join and proudly accepted the chance to represent BiH at the under 18 European championships division B. The Bosnian team, which had never been in division A before stormed through the competition going 7-1 with the only loss being by just two points. The team handled the competition in the playoff rounds handily, played with skill and composure and were led by the dominating presence of Jusuf Nurkic. Jusuf went on to average 19ppg 13rbpg 1apg 2stlpg 2blkpg and was the undisputed leader of the team and was voted MVP of the competition. In a surprising and bold move Coach Aleksander Petrovic added three member of the BiH Junior team to the senior team Adin Vrabac, Nedim Buza and Jusuf Nurkic. Even though Jusuf didnt play a ton of minutes in the series he was inserted into games at key points and played a pivotal role in two games, his debut against Netherlands in Sarajevo brought the crowd to their feet. His play in limited minutes in a crucial victory against Georgia helped bring the team back from the brink of defeat. Jusuf is a well-grounded young man who just turned 18 during the Eurobasket games last month. The sky is the limit if he continues to work hard and has the passion to be the best at his craft and get everything out of his immensely talented body that he has been blessed with. Few players ever experience such a meteoric rise; even fewer handle it with such grace and composure Q) How did you get introduced to playing basketball? At what age did you start playing? A) First so it is very accidentally happened. The man that is my agent, believed I could do something I guess and I am all super thankful for that. Unfortunately there was a lot of ridicule on this account but here I managed to at least accomplish something good. I started to train in basketball in 2009.
Q) You have tremendous size for such a young player; did your parents play basketball? A) I did not know that I would grow so much; the parents did not play basketball. Dad tried something in the then Sloboda Dita Tuzla but he had problems with his sneakers and could not play.
Q) You had a breakout series at the Nike Invitational Junior Tournament in Belgrade and averaged 18ppg 11rbpg and 2 blpg and everyone took notice. How does it feel to be a rising star of basketball? A) In Belgrade that was the first time in career I got a chance and I think I took it. It was nice to be noticed in Belgrade of course to me it fits, but it's important to be firmly on the ground, especially when it comes to young players.
Q) You had a very busy 2012 and it seems handled it all like a professional, looking back did you learn anything for these experiences? A) That was really hard but it's definitely an amazing experience to be in that time with such great players, it can of course only be used as a positive and of course I learned a lot.
Q) What are you goals for this 2012-13 Club season, both personally and professionally? A) For this season, I want to more advanced challenges and debut with club and have every opportunity to use it (what I have learned).
Q) What was the most memorable experience from this past season and summer? A) Certainly the most interesting moment to me is of course playing with the others on the team and for wearing the national jersey Bosnia. In Georgia when we get them in front of nine thousand fans and I spent the decisive minutes on the court is really inexplicable.
Q) Both National Teams of BiH the U18 and Senior Team appeared to put personal goals aside and the focus was on the greater good and sacrifice for the team. How that was made possible? A) Yes, it really was successful U18 to get first place and move in the A division and that none of the predecessors in BiH managed to do so and we have even been the first is really great. Coach Aleksandar Petrovic placed us on the European map as well, we ended up first in the group proved everything all coincided.
Q) How did it feel to accomplish so much with the BiH Teams this summer? A) The feeling is really extra special because I'm training for the first time the national team jersey and really such a success that I could've expected but all at once the dreams are fulfilled.
Q) Everyone likes to talk about your scoring and rebounding, I was most impressed with the run the team went on in Georgia when they inserted you into the lineup, it seemed to give the team energy and changed the momentum of the game, how important is defensive improvements to you? A) I do not know if someone loves you, but I honestly do not like to talk about myself or that I praise myself for my work. As for Georgia, so many problems, and sleeplessness, but we have found a formula for victory and got them I think the young players when they entered the court must be verified through the defense and of course to bring this positive energy into what I hope is successful.
Q) Who was your favorite player from the former Yugoslavia playing basketball? What about NBA? A) Of course they are the famous Mirza Delibasic and Vlade Divac..As far as the NBA right now is certainly dwight howard.
Q) Who is the one professional athlete you would pay to watch play their sport? A) The magnificent Michael Jordan,
Q) What do you like to do with your time away from basketball? A) In my free time socializing with family and society
Q) What music are you listening to these days? A) Mostly folk music like Dino Merlin Zdravko Colic ...or so say Balkan music
Q) What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? A) I think I have some different elements but mostly being a force under the basket.
Q) Do you have a favorite NBA team? NBA player? A) Of course, my favorites are the small club, Los Angeles Lakers.
Q) Are you interested in joining Mirza Teletovic in the NBA someday? A) Mirza's really a player who deserves to be given a chance out in the NBA and I believe he will be one of the key players the Nets.
Q) How do you keep a level head when expectations for you have gone sky high? A) Of course all are predicting something and I keep to myself and for now I think I'm on the right track you just have to be normal like everyone else.
Q) It is always so hard to predict what an 18 year old kid will turn out to be professionally, you have the size, skill and athleticism to be an excellent professional basketball player. The best basketball players in the world have a burning passion to dominate and be the best; do you feel you have that same competitive fire? A) I agree very much there is excellent talent in the world but very few of them fail to make a great career and I will try to get the most out of myself, so whatever it was at the end and we shall see.
Q) Do you think the success of BiH basketball will continue into the future and build upon what has been started this season? A) At last I am absolutely sure the right people are in the right place to live for the bh.kosarku and no doubt will continue to be so.
Q) I like to say youre a mini version of Arvydas Sabonis, because of your size, shooting range, passing ability, rebounding and surprising athleticism. Sabonis is considered one, if not the best centers of all time. Have you ever seen footage of him play, especially before all the leg injuries slowed him down? A) Sabonis was really big and it was hard to compare anyone with a man who has had a career that he had. I only can dream of what he could have become if not for all of his injuries if he played and had stayed healthy, in any case I can say congratulations to him for his career.
Dominion Bilbao Basket keeps Todorovic for another season - 3 days ago
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Dominion Bilbao Basket (Liga Endesa) re-signed 22-year old Serbian-Bosnian forward Dejan Todorovic (198-89kg-94). He has played there for the last two seasons. In 23 Liga Endesa games he averaged just 2.3ppg and 1.8rpg last season. Todorovic helped them to make it to the semifinals. He also played 14 games in Eurocup where he had 3.4ppg and 1.6rpg. Among other achievements Todorovic played in the final of Spanish LEB Silver Play-Off in 2013. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB... [read more]
Dominion Bilbao Basket (Liga Endesa) re-signed 22-year old Serbian-Bosnian forward Dejan Todorovic (198-89kg-94). He has played there for the last two seasons. In 23 Liga Endesa games he averaged just 2.3ppg and 1.8rpg last season. Todorovic helped them to make it to the semifinals. He also played 14 games in Eurocup where he had 3.4ppg and 1.6rpg. Among other achievements Todorovic played in the final of Spanish LEB Silver Play-Off in 2013. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB Silver 2nd Team award back in 2013. Todorovic has played previously for three other Spanish teams: Unicaja Malaga, Unicaja II Malaga and Clinicas Rincon.
Brandon Fortenberry (ex Balkan) signs at Igokea - 4 days ago
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Defending champion BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Division I) landed 26-year old American guard Brandon Fortenberry (190-84kg-90, college: SE Louisiana, agency: BeoBasket). He played most recently at Balkan in Bulgarian NBL league. In 33 games he averaged 13.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.7apg and 1.2spg last season. Fortenberry helped them to make it to the final after they ended regular season as second best team. It was a very successful season in his career as he was awarded Eurobasket.com All-Bulgarian L... [read more]
Defending champion BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Division I) landed 26-year old American guard Brandon Fortenberry (190-84kg-90, college: SE Louisiana, agency: BeoBasket). He played most recently at Balkan in Bulgarian NBL league. In 33 games he averaged 13.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.7apg and 1.2spg last season. Fortenberry helped them to make it to the final after they ended regular season as second best team. It was a very successful season in his career as he was awarded Eurobasket.com All-Bulgarian League Import Player of the Year, selected to 3rd Team and to the All-Star Game. Three years ago Fortenberry was drafted by Bakersfield Jam (D-League) in sixth round (102th overall). He attended Southeastern Louisiana University until 2013 and it will be his fourth season in pro basketball.
Ivica Zubac (7'1''-C-97, agency: BeoBasket)sets the Lakers NBA Summer League on fire! Zubac helped to take the Summer League and the Lakers fan base by storm by playing exciting, aggressive basketball and giving hope that they have a young player they can build around. He's already been given a nickname 'Zublocka' and has endeared himself and has given hope that he and Timofey Mozgov can build a solid two headed rotation at the center position. The fact that he is 216cm and is only 19 yea... [read more]
Ivica Zubac (7'1''-C-97, agency: BeoBasket)sets the Lakers NBA Summer League on fire! Zubac helped to take the Summer League and the Lakers fan base by storm by playing exciting, aggressive basketball and giving hope that they have a young player they can build around. He's already been given a nickname 'Zublocka' and has endeared himself and has given hope that he and Timofey Mozgov can build a solid two headed rotation at the center position. The fact that he is 216cm and is only 19 years old and played so well gives fans and the team hopes he can grow well into the future.
In 5 Summer League games he averaged 23mpg 10.6ppg 7.2rbpg 2.6blks while shooting 64.7% from two, 81.8% from the FT line. He also averaged only 1 turnover per game, while keeping his fouls to a minimum at only 3.4 per game in the Summer League. The good news is this helps to translate into regular season games that he can defend and rebound without being a fouling machine. Gari Gorski of Hoopshabit points out 'look and watch how smooth Zubac is in rolling to the basket on the pick and roll. He displays great hands and the ability to finish strong. From the same game shows Zubac pulling down one of a handful of offensive rebounds. Notice how when he rebounds the ball he naturally keeps the ball high and immediately flows into a putback for the score. One of the most impressive abilities Zubac displayed at Summer League was his shot-blocking ability. He put on a display against the Jazz, swatting six shots. Zubac showed both the ability to be positioned properly on defense and have the instinct and timing to rotate over for the help side block. He displays very high level skills for a 19-year-old.'
Minimally if he can stay healthy he looks like a more athletic Zydrunas Illgauskas (who looked a lot different after three years off due to repeated foot injuries) on the upside his comparison has been Marc Gasol. Both comparisons are flattering and both players had long productive NBA careers. Questions about how he fell to the second round seemed to be answered already, he didn't want to be a draft and stash player and stew in Europe for a few more years. He had some bad experiences playing three different teams last year and in three different leagues. Two of his teams struggled to pay him and he had to play against some inferior competition while biding his time for the NBA. The fact that he was with three teams in one year and had some injuries problems in the past also led to him falling in the draft from once being a possible lottery pick.
One of the most impressive aspects of Ivica Zubac is the fact that he comes from a small town in Bosnia Herzigovina called Citluk which has produced two NBA first round draft picks in the last 15 years in himself and Zoran Planinic who backed up Jason Kidd for three years with the Nets. For a town of only 5,000 to produce two NBA first round draft picks in such a short period of time is impressive.
What is even more impressive is that Bosnia and Herzigovina has five players in the NBA next season in Mirza Teletovic, Ivica Zubac, Jusuf Nurkic, Bojan Bogdanovic and Dragan Bender. Of those five players four of them come from a small stretch from Jablanica, to Mostar to Citluk about a 30 mile radius of each other. No doubt Bosnia will be well represent this year but even more so the southern part of the country known as Herzigovina. No doubt that fans of Bosnian basketball will have plenty options of whom to choose to root for this season.
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