After last season was finished, Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic came back to Europe. He was in his native Mostar for a short time, attending a few games of his first team Zrinjski Mostar and getting some rest before returning to Zagreb, his summer "base" is, where he's gone since 2009, following a disappointing stint in Spain.
Now Bojan is again in Mostar, but not for vacation. Almost every day Bogdanovic goes to his old gym, a small school hall in Mostar’s neighborhood called "Bijeli brijeg" where he works out with his friend and coach Nedjeljko Zelenika. Zelenika coached him back in the 2005., when 16-year-old Bojan was captain of Zrinjski Mostar team.
"I didn’t stop to work out on my own almost this whole time in Europe. I have to join Croatian national team on August 1, and sometime in July, I’ll go to sea to have some vacation. I don’t know where, yet. Somewhere on Adriatic Sea, I guess", Bojan told us after a solitary practice on a hot Mostar afternoon, dressed in a Nets t-shirt and Croatian national team shorts.
Because of the 35-day rule, which forbids NBA players from training more than 35 days with national teams, Bogdanovic will miss some three weeks of preparation that Croatia will have before FIBA EuroBasket which will take place in France this September.
But no one doubt Bojan will be ready to lead this talented Croatian team. Croatia is coached by one of the best European coaches today Velimir Perasovic and it’s stuffed with talent – Ante Tomic, Damjan Rudez, Mario Hezonja, Dario Saric. But Bojan Bogdanovic, who was selected in All Tournament Team in last Eurobasket, is the biggest star of this team.
"We have good coach and lots of talent, but that doesn’t guarantee good results. We have to prepare our self and we need to be at right place when we should be. But we know what we want, and what we could do. Good thing we play before our fans at the beginning and positive atmosphere from stands could carry us to the top", Bojan added.
This time Bogdanovic will lead Croatia as established NBA star, a member of the starting five of the NBA playoffs team.
"I can’t say I was surprised I got to starting five for Brooklyn Nets, but maybe I didn’t expect to go there so soon. Key thing was when I realized I could do this; I could compete with world’s best. I got trust from the coach, from the organization and my teammates, but I trusted in myself as well".
His teammate from Brooklyn Mirza Teletovic is also born in Mostar, but he doesn’t live there.
"I talked to Mirza few times, although we didn’t get a chance to see each other. I surely hope he’ll stay in Brooklyn, but I don’t know what will happen. I don’t think anybody could know, before NBA draft ends", said Bojan before reports Billy King will extend qualifying offer to Teletovic.
In this Draft, Bojan’s teammate from Croatia, Mario Hezonja, could be lottery pick. Bogdanovic wasn’t alottery pick and he stayed in Europe for two years after the Draft.
"Mario (Hezonja) should go to NBA this year. NBA style of basketball suits his game and he loves that style. I believe he should go in US immediately because I think he could only improve".