Montenegro’s national basketball team has secured its second consecutive qualification to the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The country had previously made history by becoming the smallest country to qualify for the tournament four years ago, and now they have done it again. The final day of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers saw Montenegro win against the Czech Republic, securing their place in the World Cup for the second time in a row.
Montenegro needed to win their final game against the Czech Republic to guarantee their advancement. This win was important as Hungary and Bosnia & Herzegovina were also hoping for Montenegro’s defeat, giving them a chance to advance. Despite the Czech Republic already being eliminated before the game, their carefree demeanor was noticeable from the start. Montenegro’s Aleksa Ilic contributed four of Montenegro’s final seven blocks, which totaled seven overall. The offensive strategy was the standard one-two in the backcourt, which led to a dominant 88-70 victory for Montenegro.
Kendrick Perry was the star of the show with 14 points, and Nikola Ivanovic added 17 points from the bench, along with 7 assists as a starter. Montenegro finished the qualifiers with an overall record of 7-5, which was enough to secure their place in the World Cup for the second consecutive time. With a population of just over 600,000, Montenegro is about equal in size to Madrid or Paris. They were the smallest country to make it to the Final Round in 2019, and even though Cape Verde took the title away from them in 2023, they still managed to qualify twice, which is a remarkable achievement.
Nemanja Radovic, a player for Montenegro, expressed his pride in his team, saying, “For our small country, this is tremendous, and we’re all proud of each other.” Coach Bosko Radovic also praised his team’s accomplishment, noting that they are the only team from the Pre-Qualifiers to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. He described both 2019 and 2023 as miracles, saying, “small Montenegro is in the World Cup for the second time.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary were playing for dignity in Szombathely after Montenegro handily won their game. The game ended with an 87-77 victory for the home team, with Szilard Benke leading the club with 19 points, Janos Eilingsfeld adding 18, and Adam Somogyi finishing with 17 points and 11 assists after sinking four three-pointers. Benedek Varadi also contributed 13 points and 8 rebounds. Bosnia and Herzegovina fell short, with John Roberson scoring 22 points, but they were unable to qualify for the World Cup. They actually placed fifth in the group with a score of 6-6, trailing Hungary by a single point and missing out on qualification.
In conclusion, Montenegro has made history by becoming the smallest country to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup twice in a row. Their achievement is remarkable, given the size of their country, and the fact that they were the only team from the Pre-Qualifiers to qualify for the tournament. The team and their fans can now look forward to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, where they will be hoping to make an impact and surpass their achievements from 2019.