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Musa and Nurkic reunite with favorite coach, try to silence 7,000 fans in Finland
ESPOO (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - The euphoria of FIBA EuroBasket 2017 is still alive in Finland. The Espoo Metro Arena will be packed to the rafters on Thursday, as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) visit the city.
With a week in hand, the hosts had already announced that they sold 5,400 tickets for the game, and the interest is not fading in the second largest municipality in Finland, located just east of the Helsinki metropolitan area. The arena can hold up 7,000 fans, so it's easy to see that there will not be a spare seat for the encounter of the wolves and the dragons.
Wolves, being the wolf pack Susijengi. Dragons, being the Bosnia and Herzegovina team nicknamed Zmajevi, who will breathe more fire than ever with the additions of Dzanan Musa and Jusuf Nurkic to the squad.
"We looked great in the training camp. I hope it will be enough for a win in Finland," an optimistic Musa said, making his return to the squad for the first time since becoming a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
"The atmosphere that we have going on here makes me happy. There are a lot of youngsters here, willing to work hard and prove their worth for the team," the 24-year-old Nurkic said before the trip to Finland.
Musa and Nurkic will have a new man on the bench to lead BiH. Jasmin Repesa agreed to take over the team for the next two games, stepping in for Dule Vujosevic who unfortunately had to step down due to health issues. Both of the Bosnian NBA players know what to expect out of the coaching change, as Repesa was their playcaller at club level, in KK Cedevita Zagreb, in Croatia.
"Repesa was responsible for my transfer to Cedevita, so I know what his coaching looks like. He created a great atmosphere among us, picked up where Dule Vujosevic left off," Musa explained.
"An excellent coach, no doubt about it. We know each other very well, I'm sure that he'll give us a whole new dimension. He knows what he wants, all the players can learn something from him," Nurkic offered.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are at 2-4 ahead of the matchup with a 3-3 Finland. The hosts are feeling good about their future, especially after already giving minutes to a couple of 18-year-olds. Mikael Jantunen saw minutes against Czech Republic and Iceland in the First Round, while Ville Tahvanainen - younger by a couple of months - exploded for 24 points in 24 minutes in a recent friendly against Latvia.
One of those photos - that you only think of afterwards that it has a meaning. The two guys on the left @mickee_j and #VTahvanainen , combined age 36 years. The guy on the right @TuukkaKotti , age 37 years. #susijengi @basketfinland @FIBAWC #TheFuture pic.twitter.com/WdH9Mkm6I3— Ville Vuorinen (@VilleVuorinen42) 8. rujna 2018.
"We already said that the young boys have been in a better form than us older guys in the camp, and it also appeared that way in that game," said Finland veteran Petteri Koponen. "There will be a difficult decision for the coaching staff, on who will be included in the squad for these Qualifiers."
Finland star Lauri Markkanen will not be on hand to help Koponen and others cope with Nurkic on Thursday. All the more reason why they will need home support against Bosnia and Herzegovina, before flying to Montpellier for the rendez-vous with France on Sunday.