Basketball Professionals Coaches • Entrenadores del Baloncesto Profesional
Slovenia look to make the next step up with Maljkovic
LJUBLJANA (EuroBasket 2011) – Another year, another coach for Slovenia.
Slovenia, after reaching the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA World Championship this year in Turkey, have named their third head coach in as many years by handing the national team reins to Serbian veteran Bozidar Maljkovic.
The Slovenian Basketball Federation announced the appointment on Monday and will introduce Maljkovic to the media on Tuesday.
The 58-year-old Maljkovic is replacing Memi Becirovic, who guided the club this summer.
In 2009, Jure Zdovc had been hugely impressive in leading Slovenia to the EuroBasket Semi-Finals – their best-ever finish in the competition.
According to the Slovenian Basketball Federation, Maljkovic is signing a three-year deal that has "the possibility of early termination".
If he remains for the entirety of the deal, he will coach Slovenia when they host EuroBasket 2013.FIBA
"... Slovenia have given international basketball some wonderful, spine-tingling moments in recent times.
Expect more over the next few years following the appointment this week of Bozidar Maljkovic as coach of the national team.
No stranger to success, the Serbian coaching great steered Jugoplastika Split (1989, '90), Limoges ('93), Panathinaikos ('96) to FIBA EuroLeague titles.
Now, for the first time, he will lead a national side.
And Slovenia are one of the hottest and best-supported teams around.
This passion for Slovenian hoops in Ljubljana and other cities in the former Yugoslavian republic is something that Maljkovic witnessed 13 years ago when he was at the FIBA EuroLeague Final Four in Rome.
Union Olimpija, the giants of the Slovenian game, had reached the Semi-Finals.
The fans back home, and those that travelled to the Italian capital to watch, were living and breathing basketball.
Olympiacos beat them in Semi-Finals.
"I remember the EuroLeague Final Four in Rome when (Union) Olimpija lost to Olympiacos," Maljkovic said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday morning.
"The Slovenian nation was saddened by the loss and I was surprised that you really love basketball that much.
"Other nations don't have such a privilege!"
Many of those same fans travelled to watch the team play in Poland last year and reach the EuroBasket Semi-Finals where Serbia beat them 96-92 in overtime.
The following day, Slovenia were denied the bronze medal after a 57-56 defeat to Greece.
Slovenia had made their mark, though, and this summer, despite the change of coach from Jure Zdovc to Memi Becirovic, they fell only to Team USA in Group B before losing to hosts Turkey in the Quarter-Finals.
Both years have been big successes for Slovenia.
There is a euphoria for the game like never before.
Zdovc has led Union Olimpija to six wins in nine Euroleague games this season to book a spot in the Top 16.
And the country was recently named hosts of EuroBasket 2013.
“I hope for more happy days," Maljkovic said.
"We have a good team, good players."
Among them is Bostjan Nachbar of Efes Pilsen.
Other terrific players include Jaka Lakovic and Erazem Lorbek at Regal Barcelona, Miha Zupan at Spartak St Petersburg and Goran Dragic with the Phoenix Suns.
The list goes on and on.
"I want all the best players playing for the Slovenian national team," Maljkovic said.
Slovenia would desperately like to qualify for the Olympics for the first time, when they are staged in London in 2012.
"We need to build the national team cult even further," Maljkovic said.
"Thanks to everybody who was at this post before me.
"I would just like to put the cherry on the top of the cake. But it will not be easy.
"There will be a lot of good teams in Lithuania."
Slovenia fans have every reason to believe their team should reach for the sky.
"Without false modesty,” Maljkovic said, “I have always fulfilled my promises and I hope I will do the same in Slovenia." ..."Jeff Taylor
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