After his return from the European Championships tournament, the captain of the B&H basketball team Mirza Teletović is enjoying his time with his family in his native Jablanica and is slowly preparing for his departure to the United States, where he plays for the NBA team Brooklyn Nets. The B&H team is the only team with three wins that did not manage to qualify for the second round of the competition. In B&H, basketball fans feel disappointed but not defeated. Mirza speaks to Sarajevo Times on his impressions after returning home, on the B&H team, life in the US and plans for the future.
Even with three wins, the B&H team did not qualify for the second round of the championship. As captain, was this more difficult for you than for the other players?
It was hard for all of us when we didn’t qualify at the European Championships, given that we came very close to making it into the second round. We beat teams that have a far greater variety of players. In the first two games, we played below our level, but in the next three games we showed that we have great quality. So in Slovenia, we should have gone to the second round, and that is why it hurts that we had to go back to Sarajevo knowing that we are better than some teams and watched them on play on TV. As a captain, this is very difficult for me, but as captain I have to say that I am very proud of my teammates who have proven their character when it was needed most. We still long to have made it to the second round, but we are proud of all that we have achieved in Jesenice.
How do you see the team in a year? The public wants Aco Petrović to remain the coach. What do the players think?
Immediately after our return to Sarajevo I said that we all wish for Aco to remain as coach. He knows how to get the best out of players, how to motivate them, how to get them to do more than they think they are capable of. Ok, sometimes he has unconventional methods, but he is an experienced professional for whom B&H has entered his heart, and he entered the hearts of all people in our country. He also said that this team has gotten under his skin and I don’t see a reason why we would change coaches. We are on a good path to achieve great things and this European Championships should be only the beginning of something big that will follow.
You played well the last three games, and after the fifth game you were the second best shooter of the European Championships. Is this a sign that you are now in excellent shooting form?
Well, I never went out of shape. The public had a right to expect a lot from me. I say that they have a right, because I also expected big things from myself. However, everyone knows that in the NBA I spent more time on the bench and that I missed matches. It took me a while to get into shooting form, but I am far from satisfied. I am sorry that we did not qualify, but I am convinced that my best games are yet to come.
I caught the rhythm, positioned my hand and I was full of confidence. It is too bad because of the team and I, because we finally started playing all for one, one for all. We fought until the last moment, and I said this many times before we went to the European Championships. I did not promise wins, but rather a struggle and on that side I hope that we met the expectations of fans.
You are the first player in the NBA. Have you gotten used to life in the USA?
I am still getting used to life in the USA. Life over there is much faster than in Europe, but it is slowly getting better. My family is with me and that is the most important thing, and it makes everything easier and better. You know how they say, wherever your family is, that is your home, and now my home is the USA.
What is the difference between European and US basketball players?
In the NBA basketball is more intense with a lot of contact. The game is very fast, with a large number of turnovers and fast action, and shots. The rhythm is intense, given the fact that the entire season is played in a few months, and sometimes there is a game every day, while that is not the case in Europe. However, this rhythm suits me and I wish to prove in the new season that I did not stray into US basketball, but that I arrived to the NBA due to my quality, and I am convinced that I will succeed.