Youth European Championships
|KRKA Head Coach and EuroChallenge Chamipon Aleksandar Dzikic will be handed the reigns of the Serbia U20 side|
The new executive board of the Serbian Basketball Association (KSS) has named the coaches for this summer's European Championships at the various youth levels for this summer.
The executive board, led by Belgrade's mayor Dragan Djilas as president and former national team star Dejan Bodiroga, who is now in charge of Serbia's men's basketball teams, has announced that KRKA Novo Mesto boss Aleksandar Dzikic will lead the under-20 men, Dejan Mijatovic the under-19 men, Marko Ichelic the under-18s and Sasha Nikitovic the under-16s.
Bodiroga has also said young Serbian players are going to get serious consideration for the senior national team this summer and the years ahead.
"Youth basketball should not be judged just by medals they are winning, so 2010 when Serbia was out of the podium in those competitions, it wasn't a fiasco," he said.
"Youth basketball should be used as a place where players are going to have all conditions to improve their talent, so they could help senior national team.
"But in recent years, we were speaking of a 22-year-old players as 'talents'.
"That wasn't our path in the 1970s and 80s. Then, players who were just 19, were called to the senior national team and very soon they were given the main roles. We should change our attitude, and change that current trend.
"That must be done if we really mean to can catch up with some national teams that are currently using our old system."
After attending the FIBA Europe General Assembly in Portugal, Bodiroga said that current status of Serbian basketball is "good, but should be even better".
"You can't raise your status just by using your words," he said.
"You have to work better so people can recognize who you are and how you approach some obstacles you're facing. We must remember that good results can't be achieved without hard work.
"We do have a lot of respect in the basketball world for what we have done in the past as a basketball powerhouse, but we need to work better. It's us who need to change ourselves so it can be recognized at international level as well."
And Serbia has been doing just fine at international level in recent years. After a medal drought following the gold medal triumph at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, Dusan Ivkovic led Serbia to silver at EuroBasket 2009 and a fourth-place finish at last year's FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
New challenges are approaching, with EuroBasket 2011 tipping off in Lithuania at the end of
|Dejan Bodiroga expects tough competition at the EuroBasket in Lithuania|
"It will be tough competition, without any doubt," Bodiroga said.
"Since this is a pre-Olympic year, almost all the stars of European basketball will be there to help their respective teams to reach the Final and achieve an automatic berth to the 2012 London Olympics. It will be tough for us to achieve that but, I'm sure, it won't be an easy task for other teams as well."
Since Serbia will once again have one of youngest teams at senior level, Bodiroga stressed again the importance of quality work with youngsters and therefore is thankful for those youth coaches who accepted new roles, despite having obligations to their respective clubs.
"I must congratulate them," Bodiroga said.
"Really, it wasn't an easy task for them who don't have time to spare almost at all. They've accepted our call and with great wishes and enthusiasm they've agreed to help our young teams. As an association, we'll give them best possible conditions and give them absolute autonomy in their work. If they need something from our experience, we'll gladly help them."
Dzikic will coach the Serbia side that will play at the U20 European Championship in Bilbao from July 14-24 in Group A together with Montenegro, Russia and Slovenia.
Now 40, he was an assistant coach during Dusko Vujosevic's reign at Partizan Belgrade and also with the Minnesota Timberwolves before taking main roles at Slovenian giants Olimpija and then Krka, whom he recently guided to the EuroChallenge title.
Mijatovic will be at the helm of the team at the Serbia side at the U19 FIBA World championship in Latvia. There, Serbia will take on China, Egypt and the USA in Preliminary Round Group D.
Mijatovic, 43, won gold with Serbia as a coach at the U18 European Championship in Spain in 2007 and was an assistant coach in the Serbia and Montenegro side at the U20 European Championship in 2006 that captured gold.
OKK Beograd's coach Marko Ichelic is the Serbia coach at the U18 European Championship in Group B with Finland, Germany and Turkey, with that event starting July 21 in Poland, while Red Star Belgrade's coach Sasha Nikitovic will lead the Serbians at the U16 European Championship against Russia, Montenegro and Germany in the Czech Republic from July 28 to August 7.