BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Sasha Djordjevic at the event organised by the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) to present his as the new national team coach|
Aleksandar "Sasha" Djordjevic, one of Serbia and former Yugoslavia's living basketball legends, was announced as the new coach of the country's national team, at an event organised by the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) in the capital Belgrade, on Wednesday.
The 46-year-old former point guard is taking over the reins of the team from Dusan Ivkovic who called it a day following this year's EuroBasket in Slovenia and after five years at the helm.
A record number of media attended the KSS event to witness the official appointment of Djordjevic whose candidature for the job was the strongest among a few names connected to the job following Ivkovic's departure.
Speaking to the gathered media representatives Djordjevic said he was fully aware of the difficulty of the task ahead while he did not hide his ambitions.
"[Coaching the national team] is first and foremost a great honour. I know it is a great responsibility and a tough job, but I accept this kind of challenge.
"We're not a basketball superpower [right now], but with some hard work no one can say we cannot become one again.
"My first immediate goal is to [create a team able to] beat Spain who has dominated European basketball in recent years."
KSS President Dragan Djilas said that the Federation has full confidence in the new coach.
"We are convinced of his energy and charisma. He will not have to burden himself with hopes for a medal at the World Cup in Spain, but we believe that in the Ukraine, we should be able to fight for a higher ranking to ensure participation in the Olympic Games in Rio [in 2016]," commented Djilas.
"I would first like to thank Dusan Ivkovic for all he has done for Serbian basketball, including securing qualification to the next two big events, the 2014 World Cup in Spain and the EuroBasket in Ukraine in 2015."
Dejan Bodiroga, a former team-mate of Djordjevic adn currently a KSS Vice President in charge of men's basketball, also had words of praise for the new selector:
"Sasha had a great career and extraordinary successes. We want to bring our basketball back to the place where it once was and where it belongs. The main goal is to win a medal at the EuroBasket in Ukraine."
Djordjevic' professional playing career started at Partizan in 1982. He played there for 10 years, guiding the Belgrade outfit to a Euroleague title in 1992 with his famous buzzer-beater trey. Following that success he had stints with Philips Milano (1992 - 1994), Teamsystem Bologna (1994 - 1996), the Portland Trail Blazers (1996), Barcelona (1996 - 1999) and Real Madrid (1999 - 2001), Scavolini Pesaro (2003 - 2005) and Armani Jeans Milano (2005).
Armani Jeans / Olimpia was also the club where he started his career as a coach in 2006. He has also coached Benetton Treviso in 2011-12.
Djordjevic's national team accolades are equally impressive. He was World Champion in 1998 and three times and European champion (1991, 1995 and in 1997) while he also added an Olympic Games silver medal in Atlanta in 1996 in a total of 108 appearances.