With Eurobasket 2009 approaching (by the way, official ticket sales started this weekend), the various participants are currently reviewing possible rosters and inviting new players to compete for spots to play in the basketball event of the summer in Poland. And one player has raised particular interest, as he can play for two countries actually.
To be perfectly honest, Goran Suton was an unknown before this season. The 2.10-meter tall center for the Michigan State Spartans was a honest NCAA player averaging 9.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. This season, too, his stats were not particularly high, but an impressive NCAA tournament turned the spotlight onto Suton, as he was the only European participant in the Final Four. While Suton has now finished his college career, the war to obtain him has begun among various player agents and professional teams. But a totally different type of war has also started these last days.
Suton can in fact play for the senior national teams of either Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovina: Suton was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to a Croatian father and a Serbian mother. During the Bosnian war, his family fled Bosnia to escape ethnic cleansing, but Suton was still a member of different Bosnian youth national teams. However, the wartime escape of his family only finished when they arrived in the United States of America, where Goran continued his basketball career at Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan, and later at Michigan State.
At present, according to FibaEurope, Bosnia still claims the rights to Suton. He was called to the preparation camp of the Bosnian Federation last summer, but he could not answer the call because of student obligations. In 2009, this would no longer be a problem. So Bosnian NT coach Mensur Bajramovic was hoping to see Suton join his squad this summer in order to play the Eurobasket 2009 qualification round, but he did not expect what has now happened.
Suton also got an invitation to join the Croatian national team. Team Croatia head coach Jasmin Repesa put Suton’s name on the list of the Croatian B team that will play a certain number of games this summer and from which the best players will get a roster spot on the national team that will compete in Poland in September. The Croatian Basketball Federation has already been in contact with the former Michigan State player via phone contact, according to sources.
So two national teams are for the moment working hard to get the center under their banner. As for Suton himself, the choice he makes now will determine the future of his plans for international play. While Croatia may have the better chances to win medals one day, Suton is not assured of securing a spot in a team always loaded at the inside positions. In contrast, Bosnia-Herzegovina gives him certainty about playing time, but the chances to win or even qualify for a Eurobasket are far lower than those of Croatia.
We will follow this story and keep you updated as to which country Suton finally decides to play for.