|10 February 2012|
|Jasmin Repeša returns for a second spell at the helm of the Croatian national team, replacing his successor, Josip Vrankovic |
Croatia have handed the national team reins back to former coach Jasmin Repesa.
The veteran tactician, who led Croatia from 2006 through EuroBasket 2009, was unveiled at a press conference on Friday in Zagreb.
Repesa will attempt to bring the feel-good factor back to a program that took big strides under his watch but failed to make an impact the last two summers under Josip Vranković.
Croatia had more good times than bad under Repesa.
The team was in the doldrums after a disappointing EuroBasket 2005 in Belgrade, where Croatia fell in a controversial overtime defeat to Spain in the Quarter-Finals.
Repesa replaced Neven Spahija and immediately restored the self-belief in the squad, steering the side into EuroBasket 2007.
In the Final Round in Spain, Croatia clinched a sixth-place finish to earn a spot in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Croatia then took one of the three places on offer at the qualifiers for the Beijing Games, and Repesa's team beat Australia and Russia in its first two games before falling to Argentina and Lithuania.
They hammered Iran, but with key man Marko Popovic injured and unavailable to face Spain in the last eight, Croatia lost 72-59.
The Croatians went into EuroBasket 2009 with the aim of reaching the podium and were deemed by many to be potential winners yet they won just four of nine games.
In their most crucial clash, a Quarter-Final against Slovenia, the Croatians led by 15 in the first half but ended up falling, 67-65.
Repesa moved aside, calling Croatia's performance in Poland "the biggest disappointment" of his career.
"I expected more and I hope it will be better in the days to come," he said.
Last season, he coached Benetton Treviso and led the famous Italian club into the Eurocup Finals.
He returned home to Croatia to lead Cibona Zagreb and has had a difficult 2011-12 campaign, with the outfit losing all six of its games in the Eurocup regular season.
Cibona are seventh in the Adriatic League with 10 wins and nine defeats.
Croatia prevailed in two of their first three games last summer at the EuroBasket in Lithuania but then fell to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece and did not advance to Round 2.
The team was draw in Group C of the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round and will take on Ukraine, Austria, Cyprus and Hungary.
The top two sides in each of the six groups and the fourth best third-place teams will progress to the EuroBasket.