|07 September 2013|
|Montenegro head coach Luka Pavicevic is remaining realistic about what a nation of his size can achieve at a big tournament like EuroBasket |
By Robert White
The opening three results at EuroBasket 2013 suggest that Montenegro is a team primed for future success on the European stage, however the country may have to wait a little while longer to achieve an historical first ever appearance in the tournament's Second Round.
After dropping a 12-point fourth quarter lead to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday, Montenegro could be left ruing what might have been and a trip to the final 12 for the first time in the nation's history.
Realistically, to make the next round the Montenegrins will need to win both of their remaining group games, easier said than done when one considers their next two games are against arguably the two strongest Group A teams, Lithuania and Serbia.
Coach Luka Pavicevic is well aware that his team's chances of making Montenegrin history may have considerably diminished after consecutive tight losses, but he refuses to let that deter him.
"I'm not disappointed," he told FIBAEurope.com.
"I'm aware of this lack of maturity, experience and calmness we have when we have to make defensive plays down the stretch of the game. This is what I regret the most, but I'm not disappointed. If we don't have it, we don't have it."
Whatever may come in the next two games for Montenegro, just being here and competing should be considered an achievement on its own for the small mountainous nation.
Montenegro is easily the smallest nation-per-capita competing at EuroBasket, yet the nation's population of just 632,000 has produced a team that only appears a step away from challenging Europe's best for years to come.
"We [Montenegro] are a small country, but for us, at least from my point of view as the coach and knowing the history, what is most important is to be present all the time at these big competitions," said coach Pavicevic.
"We will look for some good moments and use them to reach as far as we can.
To expect anything more from such small countries as Montenegro is unrealistic. I don't mind having big goals, but they have to be realistic."
"The support of our team is huge," says rising star Nikola Vucevic.
"Many people have come to Slovenia from Montenegro to support us. They've been great to us."
To repay that faith, the goal still remains the same for the Orlando Magic player.
"There's some things we need to take care of to finish off games," said Vucevic. "Getting to the second round remains our goal."