22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
13 Dzanan Musa (BIH)
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Musa on a mission to put Bosnia and Herzegovina back on the world map

SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina) - Dzanan Musa has been the leading light before in propelling his beloved Bosnia and Herzegovina onto the global stage and now plans to do so again at senior level.

The Bihac-native was a junior sensation and is now back in Europe; enjoying a solid start to the season with Rio Breogan in Spain's top flight as focus quickly shifts back to national team duties ahead of next week's FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.

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And, confidence is high with Musa re-joining a group that impressed in booking a spot at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 as the next goal transcends into securing a maiden World Cup appearance.

"Our group is capable of doing things, which maybe we didn't realize in the past," said Musa. "We have a great coach full of energy, there are a lot of guys playing well and having bigger roles which makes the progress of the national team much faster.

"I was talking to the guys constantly in the summer and there's a great atmosphere within the group. I believe we can finally go to the World Cup and put ourselves on the world map in terms of basketball."

Musa etched his name into the sporting history books in Bosnia and Herzegovina after leading his team to the country's first-ever title in team sports as MVP at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015.


The versatile forward shone the brightest to cement his place amongst the best players of the 1999-born generation. Musa finished with tournament averages of 23.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game with Bosnia and Herzegovina stunning Lithuania in the Final with an 85-83 triumph in Kaunas.

"It's unbelievable to think this is six years ago. It feels like yesterday - the time has flown by. For my country, a first medal in history and especially to make it gold in front of the Lithuanian fans in Lithuania.

"It was a special moment, but those kind of things happen once in a 100 years. For everybody to work as a team, we worked as a whole unit. The whole country celebrated with us. Every time you put that jersey on, you have to give 150-percent of your capabilities and your efforts are appreciated."

A recent domestic league encounter on the road against Casademont Zaragoza brought all the memories of competing at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016 flooding back. Musa made more magic happen on the global stage, including a tournament-record 50 points against Chinese Taipei.

"It was crazy [being back in Zaragoza]. The same gym at the World Cup, the same hotel that I was staying in with the national team at that time. I stood for a moment and just realized how precious that was. To be able to wear that flag across your chest and be in that circle of the best national teams in the world - I'm very proud of it."

On the half-century, Musa adds: "I still think about it. But it's not about the 50 points for me, it's about our unity and how my team recognized that. I remember one timeout, because I was close to the record, they said 'we will work for you now' - that's something that stays in my mind.

"My guys, teammates, colleagues all put themselves under me and carried me to achieve that goal. I'm forever grateful I was able to be in that group and have the record still."

Now, Musa - still only 22 years of age - continues to take on the mantle as a leading hope of a nation. Expectation comes with the territory of being a rising star in the game, but pressure does not compute as Musa looks to block out the external noise.

"I love basketball. I just love going on the court. When I'm on the court, I don't have any pressure. I just play basketball like I played basketball when I was seven in front of my house. I just want to enjoy it. I love the interactions with the fans and I want to have fun with it because it's not going to last forever.

"With this team, it's all about leadership for me. Just trying to go out there, bring the energy and my experience to the table and help lead the guys to victories. It's not always with points, it's not always with rebounds and assists. It's more about my vocabulary: talking to them and being there for them at every step."

Bosnia and Herzegovina begin their campaign on home soil in Sarajevo, just as they did four years ago when Musa top-scored as a teenager in the win over Russia. This time around, they start against Czech Republic with a chance to set the platform for a different outcome in the overall picture.

That home support could prove vital, and it's something Musa believes his team can draw inspiration from as they will also come up against Bulgaria and Lithuania in search of a top-three spot to advance to the Second Round.

"This is a very strong group. In Europe, there are no easy games. Everybody is developing their basketball and it's satisfying to see the growth of European basketball. We are coming with the full force in this window.

"We know that everyone wants to win these first games. Everyone is starting 0-0. So, when you play in front of your home fans - for some, this is pressure, but for us it's a motive to win. The fans are waiting for us and we will do everything in our power to win."

So, the key to success?

"Just be one unit," Musa simply states. "When times are going bad, you have to show character. I hope bad times won't happen, but we will always be together. Take it game-by-game. I think we can come out of this first window with a 100-percent record and this has to be our aim."

That would certainly be a good first step on the long path towards the 2023 edition of the World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.