Nurkic reveals he'll bolster Bosnia and Herzegovina lineup in September
SARAJEVO (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Giant center Jusuf Nurkic has announced he'll play for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the fourth window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers.
The 7ft (2.13m) center, who had an outstanding 2017-18 season with the Portland Trail Blazers, will be in the lineup when the Dragons open the Second Round at Finland on September 13 and then host the Czech Republic three days later.
"I HAD A MEETING WITH COACH DULE VUJOSEVIC IN BELGRADE, AND WE SPOKE A BIT IN THE NATIONAL TEAM TRAINING CAMP IN SARAJEVO LAST MONTH...I TOLD HIM I'M COMING."
Bosnia and Herzegovina began the European Qualifiers in November with an 81-76 home triumph over Russia but then won just once more, a 72-70 come-from-behind victory over Belgium in Sarajevo on February 23.
One need only look back at the country's qualifying campaign for FIBA EuroBasket 2017 to appreciate the potential impact or Nurkic on the Golden Lillies as they try to reach the World Cup.
In four games - two against Russia and two against Sweden - he averaged 19.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1 block.
Fans of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be keen to see Nurkic with the national team again
During this past NBA season, he averaged 14.3 points, 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks as Portland finished with the third best record (49-33) in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans, 4-0, in the opening round of the playoffs.
By playing in September, Nurkic knows he can make a sizable difference for his country as it attempts to move into the top three of Group K. As it is, France (6-0), Czech Republic (5-1), Russia (3-3), Finland (3-3) and Bulgaria (2-4) are above them in the standings.
The sides that finish in the top three places of each of the four Second Round groups will advance to next year's 32-team World Cup in China.
"THESE TWO GAMES COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD FOR US. A COUPLE OF WINS, AND WE ARE BACK IN CONTENTION FOR THE FIBA BASKETBALL WORLD CUP 2019."
"I had a meeting with coach Dule Vujosevic in Belgrade, and we spoke a bit in the national team training camp in Sarajevo last month," he said to Bosnia and Herzegovina newspaper Dnevni Avaz.
"A couple of days ago he told me the preparation period starts about two weeks before the next two games. I told him I'm coming. We stay in touch all the time.
"I am aware that we are behind our main rivals to start the Second Round. But these two games could be the start of something good for us. A couple of wins, and we are back in contention for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019."