Sasa Obradovic is back in Ukraine and coaching in the Superleague, only this time with a new team.
|Sasa Obradovic had very successful coaching stints in Germany and Kyiv|
After leading BC Kyiv on an impressive run in the 2008-09 EuroChallenge and guiding the club to a fourth-place finish, the Serbian tactician left to coach in Poland.
He has returned to Ukraine to lead BC Donetsk, a team that finished dead last one season ago.
So far in 2010-11, no team has been better.
Donetsk have won all eight of their games and look like a team that has a real chance to capture the league trophy this time.
Obradovic spoke to Oleksiy Naumov for FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Congrats on winning eight in a row and being the only undefeated team in the Superleague.
Obradovic: It's good to win, but this is just the start of the season so it's hard to make any judgments about it yet.
FIBA Europe: Your club has a relatively small budget and yet you are at the top of the Superleague...
Obradovic: I don't know anything about other clubs' budgets and I don't care about it. I was just trying to gather the players that can play together and who understand the game well. Plus the good work that we did during pre-season is paying off. But like I said, it's early to judge. What I can say is that we have a good atmosphere in the team and all the players are great personalities. What's also important is that I gave each player a certain role and they understand what they need to do to make the team better.
FIBA Europe: You were given the chance to select all the players by yourself. Talk about that.
Obradovic: It's a good position for me to be in. Unlike in some of the previous seasons my hands were open in selecting the players this time. [Team president] Sergei [Diadechko] gave me a lot of freedom to do this. What I did is I explained to him the reason for picking certain players or the reasons why I was doing this or that. It is very important to have full support from the main guy and I am not talking about myself only - I can see that everybody is satisfied with the situation in the club.
FIBA Europe: How did you choose the players?
Obradovic: Some of the players were here on tryouts, some I knew from the past - (Sasa) Vasiljevic, (Branko) Cvetcovic, (Jasmin) Hukic, (Luis) Flores.
FIBA Europe: You signed Slava Kravtsov, whom you helped develop in BC Kyiv. Did you want to get any more of the Kyiv guys?
Obradovic: It was a big pleasure for me that all the guys that I'd coached there wanted to come. I was in contact with Max Pustozvonov all the time and I know he wanted to play for me. But his signing with Azovmash was earlier than I signed with Donetsk. Otherwise he would have followed me. We also wanted to sign [Denys] Lukashov, who was also very excited about the chance of playing for me one more time which is also a big pleasure for me. And with Kravtsov I know that one of the reasons he came here is me. So all these things motivate me to handle the players in a way in which they will first help themselves but they will also help me and Donetsk. It's also very important for me to hear [Olexandr] Lipoviy talk to the young guy from Donetsk Chumakov about how many things he'd learned from me.
FIBA EUrope: You made names like Pustozvonov and Lukashov and Kravtsov sound big in Ukrainian basketball. Is there anybody in Donetsk who could follow in their footsteps with your help?
Obradovic: It's not as easy now. Theoretically those could be (Igor) Chumakov and (Vadym) Miakinin but a lot depends on them. They need to work more and they can really help the team. If there's more time for me, I will try to do some things differently for the next season and then I will be able to expect some of the players to develop on a higher level.
FIBA Europe: Did you follow BC Kyiv last season?
Obradovic: A little bit. I was living in Berlin and was focused more on some other leagues. But I still know how they did and how they played. This is another good satisfaction for me when Vitaliy [Cherniy] called me and said thanks for all the things that I taught him and the ideas that I gave him. He developed his own coaching philosophy and is doing a very good job in the circumstances he is right now, so congrats to him.
FIBA Europe: Which season do you think is stronger - the one when you were coaching Kyiv or this one when you are with Donetsk?
Obradovic: I guess it's a typical season with the exception of a number of games which is going to be a great stress for the players. The upsets that the favorites are encountering will be happening from time to time in the future. I am really concerned about all the players, not just mine. I hope they can endure this long season without big amount of injuries. I think that the quality of the games is a bit better when there's more rest between them.
FIBA Europe: Are you going to be as emotional as usual during this season?
Obradovic: Being emotional is a huge part of me. I am emotional with my players, I am emotional with my family, I was emotional as a player and each part of it brings me certain respect. My emotions have helped me to be a successful player and a successful coach. It's not easy to change but I do think I have to have a bit better control about it. But even in this condition I don't forget the things I need to do and to react in a proper way tactically to various situations. I don't have a problem with any of the referees either even though my face might not look nice when I comment about certain things for which I either get warnings or even technical fouls, but I certainly do not disrespect any of them no matter how I react.
FIBA Europe: You used to attend Dynamo Kyiv games in Kyiv. Now that you are in Donetsk, you attended the Shakhtar v Kyiv game as a fan of Kyiv or Donetsk?
Obradovic: I was more a fan of (Milos) Nincovic when I was in Kyiv, who is a friend of mine. I was not having much time for football even though I like the sport. I never had the time to follow the results of standings. Now that I am in Donetsk I am a fan of Darius Srna. I was very impressed with the new Donbass Arena and the atmosphere there.
FIBA Europe: Your kids went to an international school in Kyiv. Are they with you now?
Obradovic: No, unfortunately we have to be apart because there's no international school in Donetsk. One is promised to be open next year, so at least until then my kids are in the Belgrade International School. I have everything I need here and I am pretty settled apart from that.