Croatia: Zadar Star Confident Of Progressing

20 December 2005

BC Zadar never give up, as they proved by hitting back from three defeats to start the EuroCup with a three-game winning streak to reach the next round.

Todor Gecevski was as influential as any player in that team.

Hailing from FYR Macedonia, his determined approached rubs off on his team-mates, so do not be surprised if they recover from last week's Round II setback against Lokomotiv Rostov and go on to reach the quarter-finals.

In an interview with PA Sport's David Hein on behalf of FIBA Europe, Gecevski shared his thoughts on what has so far been a very demanding season for the Croatian club.

FIBA Europe: Congratulations on getting through Group B and welcome to the second round. Despite having teams like RheinEnergie and Gran Canaria in the group, you guys were able to advance. Was that a surprise at all?

Gecevski: We were surprised that we lost the first three games. But we got through and that's what we wanted.

FIBA Europe: Still, you guys started 0-3. How hard was the turn-around and what happened in between the games in Cologne and Gran Canaria?

Gecevski: I think we had a hard time getting together as a team early in the season with players coming to the team late. I was with the (FYR Macedonia) national team and came back one week before the season, and other players missed some practice. But now we're playing with more team spirit and playing team ball.

FIBA Europe: Did you guys feel a sense of urgency after the horrible second half in Cologne?

Gecevski: We thought that we were in every game until then. But that was our most terrible game. We only scored 49 points. Usually we score a lot of points. But we just had a really bad offensive day. But we got into better shape and started playing better offensively. And there was a little bit of pressure on us. We had lost three straight games at home - two in the EuroCup and one in the league. And the fans and management were getting on us.

FIBA Europe: You're now in Group K with Lokomotiv Rostov, Dexia and Slask - this seems like a group you guys can do some damage in. Obviously reaching the quarter-finals is the goal. Where do you and the team see yourselves in this group?

Gecevski: We have three games at home and if we win these three games and one on the road I think we will be at least second in the group. We think we can take second place for sure. That's what our ambition is for the group.

FIBA Europe: And starting Group K with a 76-64 loss at Lokomotiv Rostov?

Gecevski: That's not a big disappointment. We had a possibility to win. We played a good game and all the time we were in the game. But we lost our concentration at the end. The result wasn't what really happened. We were much better than that points difference. We still have a chance to take first or second place. One game is nothing - especially losing against the team I think is the best in our group.

FIBA Europe: You've had to carry a big load so far, being the leading scorer and second in rebounds. How does it feel to be given the responsibility?

Gecevski: I don't look at it that way. I only look at winning. If we win I am really satisfied. If we lose I really don't like it. I don't look at stats, especially not as an individual. If I look at stats I only look at them as a team. How many points did we score? How many rebounds did we have? I don't look at basketball like that. The most important thing is winning.

FIBA Europe: Who else on the team is going to have to carry the biggest portion of the help?

Gecevski: We have a team who is usually playing a team game. Every game we have a different player leading in scoring. Every game is different. This is my second year here and it's my second year of us playing like that.

FIBA Europe: What can we expect from Zadar over the next two months in the EuroCup?

Gecevski: I think we have to take 100% of our chances. With that our results will be much better, and we will get through this group. After that we will talk about everything else. Fans should expect that we get through this group.

FIBA Europe: In the summer, you helped the FYR Macedonia national team advance to qualification round for the 2007 EuroBasket in Spain. How big an honour is that for you and your nation?

Gecevski: I think we have a very young and good team. We have a very good point guard Mirza Kurtovik. And I think we will be a strong team. If we prepare and play our game, we can qualify from the group and reach the EuroBasket. That's our ambition.

FIBA Europe: And you finished atop Group D which also included Finland and Georgia - teams that include NBA players. That's quite an achievement isn't it?

Gecevski: We had a very difficult group. But we showed that we can play good basketball too. And then we beat Austria on two occasions by about 30 points. We have high ambitions at home.

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