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Jonquel Jones: ''The best in the world? I don't really think about that''
SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina) - Many have labelled Jonquel Jones as the best female baller on the planet right now, but don’t expect the player herself to get caught up in the debate.
You can forgive Jones for being laid back about it, since she doesn't need any added hype. Her eye-popping numbers in a Bosnia and Herzegovina national team vest has done all the talking.
PRESSURE? WHAT PRESSURE?
𝓑𝓔𝓐𝓢𝓣 𝓜𝓞𝓓𝓔: engaged!— FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWWC) February 13, 2022
Jonquel Jones put up 36 points and 23 rebounds at an INSANE 51 efficiency as Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Japan in their own building 🐉🇧🇦@BFBiH 🤝 @jus242#FIBAWWC pic.twitter.com/oXWMqVEZGY
Indeed, even with massive responsibility on her shoulders heading to the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney where she will lead her adopted nation on a fairytale first ever appearance at the event, you will only find a laidback smile.
"Honestly? I don't really think about being the best player in the world or what other people think about me," laughed Jones.
"I always consider basketball as an outlet for me to have fun and to enjoy myself. It's always been something that I have loved. I try not to take the pressure of any situation to heart. When I go out there, it always feels like fun.
"I always say people are dealing with big things in life. I don’t think basketball for me can ever be considered as a big stress. If anything. it's actually an outlet to go out there and to enjoy the moments and the camaraderie with my teammates.
"I definitely want to do well with Bosnia and Herzegovina as I know what the team is capable of doing, but stress or pressure? I just really just don’t feel that," she insisted.
HOME COMFORT FROM A NEW BASKETBALL FAMILY
One of the driving factors in the success Jones has had with Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the family vibes, including the welcome she has received since day one and a terrific relationship with head coach, Goran Lojo.
She explained: “Looking back, I remember going to meet the team and just really hoping that everyone would be nice and would welcome me in. Then when I arrived with the national team, it was exactly as I had hoped and expected it to be. It has been a very enjoyable experience right from the beginning.
"Plus, the relationship between myself and Goran is something that we have worked at right since the beginning too. What is important is that from the first time that I met him, he was very kind and welcomed me to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He showed me around. It was just me and him really.
"We have a great relationship when we are together in that he listens when I speak, then I listen when he speaks. He speaks a lot with me actually and we work together and use that dynamic to put the team in the best possible position to win.
"In fact, I really appreciate the way in that he allows me to go out there and do what I do best," added Jones.
GROWING UP AS A TEAM
When it comes to Coach Lojo, while he is adamant that his marquee player lives up to her top billing, he is also keen to stress just how much the team as a whole has grown thanks to the presence and influence of Jones.
He stated: "It’s a great feeling having the best player in the world in your team and having the possibility to coach her. Since first time we met four years ago, we have had a great relationship on the court and a special one off the court too.
"Beside her professional attitude, she has a simple outlook and a great personality and I am sure all coaches would be grateful to have her on their roster.
"But it’s important to know that we also had a great team with potential before she came. It’s just with the arrival of ‘JJ’ we got an upgrade to the very top level in the women’s basketball world.
"We are all growing up together as a team as a result of this," continued Lojo.
"We are writing some new pages of Bosnia and Herzegovina basketball history, the players and coaches together and we are becoming ready for the next level. I even still think this team didn’t even show its best yet and our time is still to come.
"Also delivering success with the national team is driving new ambitions for myself and I’m ready to make some great results at club level during the upcoming Season. I have shown I can do it with Bosnia and Herzegovina and so I know I can do it for a club too.”
The desire for further growth and ambition shown by Lojo are sentiments echoed by Jones, who was at pains to point out the growth of all those connected with Bosnia and Herzegovina since she first set foot in the locker room.
"The team's development is very important because if we don't step out as a team, then we don’t win basketball games," she enthused.
"I would say that the biggest thing is that you can visibly see the confidence levels in everyone picking up.
"I wouldn't say it is about me or my presence, but just the fact that we have been able to win and not just win, but do it against the kind of teams that some people might think we shouldn’t even be competing against because we are just not in the same class or level.
"But it's giving everyone confidence on this team by showing that we can do it if we put out best foot forward, then we really can play with anybody," concluded Jones.