Proteas EKA AEL Dismiss Raca And Appoint Nikolic


Dragan Raca led Proteas EKA AEL into the EuroChallenge Final Four but he won't coach the outfit in the competition's showpiece event after being dismissed by the club over the weekend.

After falling behind 2-0 in the Cypriot league's play-off semi-finals to APOEL, AEL have shown Raca and his assistant coaches Mike Protics and Thanasis Mastoris the door and replaced them with Serbian Miroslav Nikolic.

Kyriakos Yiangoulis, a Cypriot, will serve as Nikolic's assistant.

A club statement said:

"The administration of Kalathosfairikis AEL, after serious reflection and fully conscious of the burden of responsibility of such a decision, but always in conjunction with the absolute fact that the interest of the team is above all else, proceeded to break cooperation with coach Dragan and his affiliates, and replace them with Miroslav Nikolic and Kyriakos Giagkoulli in a final attempt to change the negative climate in the group that began to form last month, despite the positive results in Cyprus and Europe, and culminated last week with two consecutive defeats in the semi-finals of the games play-off by APOEL."

AEL will take on Italian giants Virtus BolognaFiere in the EuroChallenge Semi-Finals on April 24 with the winner of that game to meet Cholet or BC Triumph for the title.

In appointing Nikolic, the club has opted for another veteran Serbian coach and one who has played to rave reviews for his work with Serbian youth national teams.

Nikolic guided a young Blues side to gold at the 2007 U19 FIBA World Championship and also did a terrific job with Avtodor Saratov in Russia this season, leading them to first place in Superleague B before leaving the team when it experienced financial problems.

Having worked at numerous clubs in the Balkans like Buducnost, Red star, Vojvodina and Hemofarm, he has also had a stint with Apollon Patras in Greece.

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