Montenegrin NBA star Nikola Vučević is closely following the performance of his national basketball team as they enter the final window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers from February 23 to 27.
Montenegro, an Eastern European nation in the Balkans, stands just one victory away from securing a second consecutive appearance in the upcoming World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines later this year.
Road to qualification
With a current record of 6-4, Montenegro is set to face Bosnia and Herzegovina (5-5) and Czechia (3-7) in their remaining matches. Czechia, already out of contention, presents an opportunity for Montenegro to seal their qualification.
Nikola Vučević, the 32-year-old center for the Chicago Bulls, expressed confidence in his country’s prospects, stating, “We only need one win to get in, so hopefully we get it.” He mentioned his commitment to watching all the games to support his team’s quest for qualification.
Vučević, with over a decade of experience in the NBA and two All-Star selections, plays a pivotal role in Montenegrin basketball. He contributed significantly to the national team’s victories against France (70-69) and Portugal (77-62) during the fourth World Cup qualifying window in the previous summer.
When asked if he would attend the World Cup tournament if Montenegro secures a spot, Vucevic responded positively, saying, “There’s a good chance, yes. We’ll see by that time, but there’s a good chance. I didn’t play in EuroBasket, but I think I might play in the World Cup.”
Chicago Bulls performance
Nikola Vučević’s impressive performance with the Chicago Bulls in the 2022/23 NBA season serves as an additional motivation for Montenegro. Despite the team’s mixed fortunes, Vucevic, known as the ‘Vooch,’ has been a standout player, averaging 17.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game while shooting at 51.6 percent.
He currently ranks fourth in the league for ‘double-doubles,’ showcasing remarkable consistency as the only Bulls player to start and play in all 59 games.
While Vučević may not always receive widespread acclaim for his contributions, he remains dedicated to the game, emphasizing the value of both NBA and international court time.
Wishing the win
As Montenegro prepares for their crucial qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina on February 24 and Czechia on February 26, Vucevic conveyed his best wishes to his country, saying, “Good luck to them, I wish them all the best, and hopefully we’ll get the win.”
Montenegro currently occupies the third position in Group K, with France and Lithuania already securing qualification to the FIBA World Cup.