After 13 years on the international stage, Milica Dabovic will be hanging up her jersey for good.
And she did it on the grandest stage of all – at the Olympic Games – and with a bronze medal around her neck.
Having played at her first Eurobasket Women event 13 years ago, it took more than a decade but the 34-year-old Serbian captain first helped her national side capture their first European title in 2015, beating France in the final.
And, it was only fitting that in her final game, Dabovic replayed that magical moment by beating the French again in yesterday’s bronze medal game, playing 21 minutes and scoring nine points.
“I’m just tired of being under pressure,” she said to FIBA.com. “I will be 35, so I need to rest from the national team from this pressure. I’ve given my best, like I always do. Today, everything that I had, I put on the court. I knew this was our last chance to win a medal, so I wanted it so bad. It’s the best way to finish.”
But when Dabovic began her international career, playing for the old Yugoslavia, she could not have dreamed to be where she is now. When Serbia competed at Eurobasket Women 2007 for the first time as an independent country, Dabovic and co finished a woeful 11th.
Serbia did not begin to get excellent results, however, until Eurobasket Women 2013, although even there they had their struggles.
The team lost its first two games that year in France and looked to be heading for elimination but then beat Latvia in their last game in pool play and that triggered a five-game winning streak, with the last of those victories, against Italy in the last eight, clinching a spot in the 2014 FIBA world championship for women.
Three years later, and a Eurobasket Women title in-between her success Dabovic can retire from international play on a high.
“I dreamed about it,” Dabovic said. “I believed in a miracle, so when I came here, I believed also. I said that ‘If we deserve it, God will show us the way.” He’s with us always, so I just thank him for everything.”