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Gegic: "Now is the time for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be great"
MUNICH (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Twenty-year-old Amar Gegic is part of a young Bosnia and Herzegovina team that is striving for their first ever berth at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. And they opened their World Cup Qualifiers with an important 81-76 win at home over Russia during the November window.
The FC Bayern Munich guard talked to FIBA.basketball about an amazing experience in the Qualifiers at home in Sarajevo; how much last summer's European Pre-Qualifiers helped the team to develop; his emerging superstar teammate Dzanan Musa; and what it would mean to his country to reach China 2019.
In November, Bosnia and Herzegovina opened the Qualifiers with a win at home against Russia and then lost at France. What did you make of those first two games?
That win over Russia is very important and big for us. It wasn't just a victory, that game also gives us big motivation and shows us how we can do it. And the second game against France, even though we lost, we are proud of how it ended (84-65) because we showed that we are young "only on paper". Our country has a great team. We are a combination of youth and experience and with our coach we can win the next games.
For those that weren't there, how would you describe the atmosphere at the game in Sarajevo against Russia?
That was one of the best atmospheres I have experienced in my career. The hall was full. I will always remember that game fondly. We beat the fourth-best European team, in front of our people with a very young team. And that is a night that I will remember my whole life.
You play at home against Belgium and at Russia. What are the keys to success for those games?
It is important to win against Belgium. If we win that game, we will be much closer to the next round. That game is a must-win, even for them. We need to do our maximum and stay positive.
"DZANAN (MUSA) IS A BIG TALENT AND GROWING UP TO BE ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS. I HOPE HE WILL HAVE A GREAT CAREER, AND I HOPE WE WILL HAVE GREAT RESULTS WITH THE NATIONAL TEAM TOGETHER" - Gegic
In order to play in these World Cup Qualifiers, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to go through the European Pre-Qualifiers last August. How much did that campaign help the team in preparation for what you're going through now on the Road to China 2019?
That period turned out to be a great beginning for what are we doing now. A lot of young players played for the senior team for the first time in that time. We improved day by day as winners and as a team. We had a great atmosphere and it was great to be part of that team. A foundation was laid and now players with lots of experience have joined us, and now it is a great mixture of youth and experience.
You are part of the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina basketball and another player with you in that regard is 18-year-old Dzanan Musa. What makes him such a great player?
He is a big talent and growing up to be one of the best players. Everyone is expecting so much from him, but he doesn't pay attention to that and proves it with excellent results in every game. I hope he will have a great career, and I hope we will have great results with the national team together.
"THE ATMOSPHERE FOR THE GAME AGAINST RUSSIA IN SARAJEVO WAS ONE OF THE BEST I HAVE EXPERIENCED IN MY CAREER. THE HALL WAS FULL. I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT GAME FONDLY" Gegic
Bosnia and Herzegovina have never played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. What do you think when you hear that?
I think the day will come when we are part of the World Cup. If we work hard every day, we will make it. I don't want to comment on what happened in the past because I was not part of that. Now is the time to be great. We have a young team, a great coach, and I hope we will have great results in the future.
How great would it be for the country if the team made it to China 2019?
For our people, that would be a great thing. When our football team qualified for the World Cup (in 2014), people were happy for days. They were living for the game days. It doesn't matter if it's football, handball or basketball: we know that we can give our people happiness with our wins. We will give everything on the court to make that happen.