U19 Worlds a memorable launch pad for the legendary Vasic
MADRID (Spain) - When the legendary Sonja Vasic took part in the recent FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup draw the memories of her own success at the event came flooding back.
Not only that, but also how playing at the global level so young helped with the foundations of the incredible senior success that followed during later years.
"PLAYING U19 IN BRATISLAVA WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST MEMORIES I HAVE WITH MY TEAMMATES" - Sonja Vasic
A two-time FIBA Women's EuroBasket winner and indeed the MVP of the last edition in 2021, Vasic is also a two-time Olympian having won a historic bronze medal in Rio - although she never got to play at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.
That's why her bronze medal success at the 2007 FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup in Slovakia still means so much today.
She explained: "Playing U19 in Bratislava was probably one of the best memories I have with my teammates from the youth levels. It was quite unexpected to get the medal there.
Vasic went on to be crowned MVP at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
"Honestly, we are still really proud of that accomplishment because even it if is on the younger stage, you are still able to compete against the best in the world.
"Just being able to get a medal on that kind of big stage really meant a lot and motivated us to keep working hard and to aspire for even greater things.
She continued: "The best memory looking back is probably playing alongside the same people that I later played with at the senior level and had success with and at that time, I was a roommate with Jelena Brooks and just being able to go through all those great accomplishments together means a lot and it represents a great memory for me."
"THE YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM EXPERIENCES ARE REALLY IMPORTANT FOR BUILDING TOWARDS THE SENIOR LEVEL." - Sonja Vasic
Vasic is keen for all those heading to this year's edition in Madrid to soak up the experience. Some of those on view, like the forward herself will go on to regularly play for their respective senior teams, while even for those that don't, the forthcoming experience in Spain will likely cut deeper than just basketball.
She explained: "The youth national team experiences are really important for building towards the senior level and the core of our own team that had the biggest success on the senior stage were together.
"People went through the U16, U18, U19 and U20 Championships and we started winning medals and that culture of learning how to win and competing against the best was able to transfer to the senior level afterwards.
Another Serbian legend Jelena Brooks played with Vasic at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup
"We needed some time to get better as seniors and get experience, but when all of that happened and things clicked, we were able to transfer that success.
"Plus, knowing each other for all that time and playing together for so long helped in tough situations, because the trust is so much bigger. It also goes beyond the court because the friendships are also stronger because we have all known each other for such a long time," she concluded.