Brilliant Bosnia and Herzegovina making history after two-decade drought
STRASBOURG (France) - Bosnia and Herzegovina are making people sit up and take notice on their return to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket after more than a two-decade absence as a generation of fans watch their nation on the big stage for the first time.
The vast majority of the current roster were at kindergarten and one player hadn't even been born the last time Bosnia and Herzegovina appeared at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket - two years after their debut, in 1997. Back then, it was current Team Manager and FIBA Hall of Fame member Razija Mujanovic showing her quality on the floor.
"WE'VE BEEN IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA SINCE 2019, WITH THAT MIRACLE AGAINST RUSSIA IN FRONT OF 6,000 FANS." - Goran Lojo
Some 22 years later since their last appearance and the splash the current crop pf players have made on their nation's return could barely have been more spectacular. They not only took a famous win against one of the tournament favorites in the shape of the Tokyo-bound Belgium, but they did so in style with a rampant 70-55 success.
It was a result that sent shockwaves around not only European basketball, but also globally. After all, Bosnia and Herzegovina managed to roll over a nation ranked sixth in the FIBA World Ranking Women, presented by Nike.
Yet for head coach Goran Lojo, the biggest satisfaction was that in his homeland the team's exploits and potential were already firmly on the sporting radar.
He explained: "We have already been in the mainstream media ever since 2019, when we made that miracle in the Qualifiers by winning against Russia in Orenburg and in front of 6,000 people.
"Since then, women's basketball and especially the national team has been very well covered in our country.
"Of course, this run of ours can now maybe give even more motivation to any other media who want to promote us and maybe it will be very important for the future development of women's basketball in our country."
"IT IS THE CHARACTER, CHEMISTRY AND ATMOSPHERE WE HAVE WHICH IS MOST IMPORTANT." - Milica Deura
The attention being given to the team is also being mirrored on social channels, where there is a real buzz about their accomplishments. Fans are hyped about not only seeing a winning return, but one that could yet evolve into something very special.
The dial was turned up even further on excitement levels when Bosnia and Herzegovina followed up their opening day success by beating Turkey 64-54. The triumph delivered another memorable and landmark moment and not only because they knocked off a nation listed 7th in the FIBA World Ranking Women, presented by Nike.
"I can officially say that for the first time in our history that Bosnia and Herzegovina will pass the Group stage of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket," smiled Lojo.
"We have now shown everyone we can play the best teams. Belgium was the favorite for this group and we responded when we were tired to beat Turkey."
Milica Deura was quick to point out that only two games into the competition, Bosnia and Herzegovina have no intention of easing off the gas and will use their strong bond as a unit to push hard for more.
"It is the character, the chemistry and atmosphere we have in this team which is the most important thing," she insisted.
"We fight and we never give up, plus even the bench is always at a high level in the way that they cheer us on and give energy. It is how we have done things ever since we came together as a group.
"I really believe in my team and while we are talking about how we will go to the next round of the competition for the first time in history, I feel that we are not done yet,"added Deura.
It's true that Bosnia and Herzegovina have plenty more history-making potentially in the pipeline. For example, they have never won three games at the event previously.
If they manage that feat in their last group game in a Balkan derby with Slovenia, they would take a direct ticket to the Quarter-Finals and have a genuine shot at making the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournaments.
Yes, we coud yet see excitement levels reaching fever pitch and an amazing and unforgettable fairytale unfolding.