While Croatia have had injury concerns and an unfortunate mishap regarding visa registration ahead of Eurobasket Women, the spirit of the women’s international side remains as strong as ever after two games.
And partly because of that spirit, they stand a good chance of reaching the second round if they beat Great Britain in their final game today.
While they’ve shown a great competitive nature on the court, they have also been able to count upon some very special support from the stands in Szombathely.
A quick glance up into the bleachers revealed three of their sidelined star names all sat alongside each other and cheering their colleagues on with as much, if not even more vigour, than any other Croatian supporter present.
Euroleague Women center Marija Rezan, veteran warrior Ana Lelas and shooting guard Antonija Misura [pictured] were all on hand to show impressive solidarity in the most testing of circumstances for their country.
“We are doing all that we can do and that is to be here and to show our support for our team-mates,” declared Lelas. “We want to show that we are still one nation and one team.
“We are backing them in every way that we can – even though we all wish we were able to help out on the floor and play like we did during qualifying. No matter how difficult it is, or how difficult things get on the court, we will always stand next to our fellow players and behind Croatia.”
Most would travel with the team and be there to cheer their team-mates on from the bench, but the three sidelined Croats are enjoying just being fans – almost forgetting that they are in fact – international basketball players.
“We lost Shavonte Zellous a day before the tournament in addition to the three of us all missing out,” Lelas continued.
“To then lose a leader in Jelena Ivezic after a few minutes of final round starting, was really difficult and made the summer even more challenging for us.
“It is always tough when there are so many young or new players and especially when they have to be really thrown into the fire in such a big competition like this. However, despite all of the injuries and a difficult time [against Russia] I can see the sunshine coming out. I really do think a better time is coming for Croatia in the future.”
FIBA Europe’s Paul Nilsen also credited for this report.