Lucija Banović makes wonderful things happen on the court

Gepubliceerd op 22 december 2023 om 09:00

The 18-year-old Lucija Banović have played basketball since she was 10 years old. The Croatian basketball international started at Zagreb at the club called ŽKK Trešnjevka 2009. She won a lot of under 15, 17 and 19 titles, and also played senior league finals. She also won the Croatian Cup two seasons ago, and now she is ready for the next step. “I have always been great at school, but I am also pretty good at basketball,” Lucija tells me. “I felt like that playing pro in Europe would stop me from getting good education. Playing in the United States would be the best option for me, and I am glad that Dartmouth College has been the next destination for me!”

Switching from tennis to basketball

Before playing basketball, Lucija never thought her life will go the way she shines on the court as she does now. Not to mention that basketball isn’t the first sport she did. “I used to play tennis for five years, from the first grade until the fifth grade. The tennis court was only five minutes away from my house. My dad, who was a basketball player, was like ‘you’re going to try basketball’. Though he was quite clear, I was like ‘no I don’t want to do that’. I think I was quite afraid of changes or trying new things. I thought about what if they don’t accept me or something. One day I got home from school, and my dad called and said that I will going to my first practice. I was so mad, and I didn’t understand why I had to go. He took me to practice, and when I came back I immediately liked to a lot. I never quit since then!”

Playing as a team

Being together, that is what makes basketball a big passion. Lucija knows what playing as a team can accomplish. “Basketball is a team sport, and you make so many connections. It creates unity and togetherness, and you can do so many things on the court. There are so many ways to play the game. It is never boring!”

Playing on the highest league of Croatia

Lucija always played for ŽKK Trešnjevka 2009 until last year. She made so many memories back there. “We won so many titles, so I can’t really remember that much about the first one. It was at the under 12 team of Zagreb I think, but it is a while ago. The first moment I played on the highest league of Croatia was in 2020, after the covid-19 season. At first I was not a starter, because there were some older girls with a lot more experience. It was a great experience to see how it is like to play on the highest league. Next season I made a crucial jumper during a game. During the pre-season, I played some good games, and I got the chance to develop myself. I also was the best scorer of the team, at an age of 16. Our rival, ZKK Ragusa from Dubrovnik, always made it very difficult for us, but then one day I only slept for five hours, and I thought it will be a disaster. Nevertheless, I scored 24 points and we won the game. That season was awesome, even though we didn’t make it to the finals.

Playing on the highest league gave me some courage to step up a lot more. That competitiveness gave me a power to not be afraid or making mistakes. It came naturally for me. After practice I stayed for shooting the ball some more, and that also helped me a lot.”

Being a Croatian international

With all her talent and inspiration, I would be a surprise that Lucija has become a basketball international for Croatia. She also made wonderful moment happen with the national team. “Playing for the national is always such an honor and a great experience. Back then there was covid-19, so no European Championship. Everything during The Challengers was different, but the team I played with at The Challengers is the same team won the European Championship this year. Back then, the team wasn’t good as it is now. We have grown a lot this year, which turn out to win a big price like this!”

Photo's: FIBA Europe

Winning the gold medal

It was really wonderful last summer. The national under 18 team of Croatia made so much progression and reached an impressive stage “We were really confident. Everyone got so much better, and we were all like helpful and played as a team. It was an amazing feeling, and we made a lot of great decisions. The fact that we lost last summer two crucial games with a small differential hurt me so much. We didn’t qualify to division A last year, so we were really focused to do that this year. Every player in the team had the same feeling. We wanted this so bad, and the beginning was great. After the group phase, we knew we could make it. During the most crucial moments, we stayed together and we managed to finish it on a really awesome way. It gave me so much relieve, and happiness! We did it, and we could go home with a gold medal.”

When Lucija is playing, all of her passion and talent turn out to wonderful moments. Her inspirational style of playing is making a real impact on those who want to believe that hard work pays off! Photo's: FIBA Europe

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