Serbia & Montenegro: Dragicevic Doubtful For Izmir

11 July 2006

Serbia & Montenegro coach Miroslav Nikolic will wait until the last possible minute to see if injured star Tadija Dragicevic can play at the OSTCHEM U20 European Championship Men in Izmir.

The one player in the squad from one year ago that finished third at the U20 event in Russia, Dragicevic was the Young Blues' top player during the early part of their preparation period.

At the Global Games in Dallas last month, he had 25 points and 12 rebounds in a narrow semi-final defeat against Lithuania but it was feared after that contest that he had broken his leg.

X-rays did not show a fracture, but the Red Star Belgrade center missed the final phase of training.

Milos Teodosic (Serbia & Mont.)
Milos Teodosic may be one of the players to miss out on the trip to Izmir
"Dragicevic is very important to this team, and I've decided to wait until last moment to see whether or not he will be able to play," Nikolic said.

"Currently, he is our 13th player, but if doctors say he is all right, he will be with us."

Nikolic had kind words for the players he did cut.

"We finished our preparation and tomorrow we are going to Turkey," he said.

"It will be tough competition, and before it, as coach, I have had one of the coaches' toughest tasks, to drop some players from the provisional list.

"Vladimir Golubovic, Milos Teodosic and Boris Savovic worked really well, but we can't take all good players we have to the European Championship so they will not travel there."

Serbia & Montenegro have been drawn in Group A for the U20 European Championship, and will face Latvia, Croatia and Belarus.

I'm an optimist," Nikolic said.

"I was, and I will always be. That's why I am dreaming about gold medal in Turkey.

"But, in reality, it will be very hard to achieve. France, Turkey and Russia have better teams than us. They are favourites for the trophy.

"Meanwhile, we have a tough preliminary group in which we'll face interesting squads of Latvia and Belarus, and, one of our traditional rivals, Croatia.

"We'll see what happens. This championship is going to be very interesting, it will be a huge challenge for our team which, also, has quality and talent."

One of those players is Dragan Labovic, the most valuable player of last year's U18 European Championship.

Serbia & Montenegro squad (one cut to be made): Tadija Dragicevic (Red Star), Dragan Labovic (Borac), Nikola Pekovic, Novica Velickovic, Milenko Tepic, Boris Bakic (all from Partizan), Ivan Maras, Nenad Mijatovic (both from Buducnost), Nikola Dragovic (Mega Ishrana), Miljan Rakic, Branko Jereminov (both from Hemofarm), Ivan Paunic (Vojvodina) and Marko Simonovic

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