Balkan Trio Show Cautious Optimism

04 February 2014

EUROBASKET 2015

6. Suad Sehovic (Montenegro)
"I am satisfied with the outcome because it was possible for us to get tougher opponents" - Suad Sehovic

The last time that F.Y.R of Macedonia were drawn in the same group with neighbours Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, at EuroBasket 2013, it ended in disappointment for all three teams.

The trio of Balkan nations were pitted together in Group B in Jesenice, the most hotly-disputed First Round pool at last September's EuroBasket.

They finished in the bottom three places in the standings, while Lithuania, Serbia and Latvia occupied the top three spots and punched their ticket to the next phase.

F.Y.R of Macedonia were the ninth-seeded team in Monday's EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualification Round Draw and as such they could have well ended up in the same group with either one of Montenegro or Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were among the top-seven seeds.

The outcome of the draw in Barcelona though left all three Balkan nations satisfied and happy to assume the role of favourite in their respective Qualification Round, albeit not without a strong dose of precaution.

"I am satisfied with the outcome because it was possible for us to get tougher opponents," said Montenegro guard Suad Šehović.

Montenegro were drawn in Group B, together with Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Israel, whom Montenegro had met during their qualification campaign for EuroBasket 2013.

"Israel is a dangerous adversary as demonstrated in their previous appearance in the Qualification Round," Šehović commented.

"We won in the recent qualifying games against them, but every game was uncertain and it was very difficult to get the win.

"It will not be easy this time around either, against a team whose core consists of the players of Maccabi [Tel Aviv] and Hapoel.

KRKA Head Coach Aleksandar Dzikic
"We should never underestimate any opponent, we are simply not entitled to do so" - F.Y.R of Macedonia Head Coach Aleksandar Dzikic

"Israel and our team are the favourites to go through to EuroBasket but surprises can always happen.

"Bulgaria plays in qualification every time and is always one step away from qualifying to EuroBasket.

"As for the Dutch national team, to be honest I do not know much about them and I think it's also something of a mystery to most of my teammates," Šehović admitted.

The same mood of contained optimism was prevalent on the F.Y.R of Macedonia front following the draw in Barcelona, which placed them in Group D together with Belgium, Belarus and Denmark.

"As I had said when I was appointed, our goal is to qualify to EuroBasket in Ukraine and we will have to realise it through this group," said the new F.Y.R of Macedonia head coach, Aleksandar Dzikic.

"I believe that Belgium stands out in our group in terms of quality and they, together with us of course, are the favourites, but still much will depend on the composition of the final rosters on each team.

"I think the draw was quite favourable to us overall.

"We know enough about the Belgian national team and the quality of the Belgian league, the style of basketball they play.

"They are disciplined, tough and physically very demanding.

"As for Belarus and Denmark I will gather additional information so we can talk in more detail but we should never underestimate any opponent, we are simply not entitled to do so," Dzikic added.

Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other hand were drawn in one of the two 2nd Qualification Round groups that consist of only three teams, and will take on Great Britain and Iceland.

"Not bad at all," was the immediate reaction on social network Twitter of Bosnia and Herzegovina captain Mirza Teletovic, who woke up early in the morning in the USA to follow the draw live.

"It's top [very good] captain," fellow Bosnian star Nihad Djedovic replied also on twitter from Munich.

Harun Mahmutović, the Secretary General of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Basketball Federation summed up the mood from Barcelona, where he had attended the draw.

"Generally speaking we are satisfied, although the Great Britain team has NBA players [Luol Deng and Joel Freeland], so if they field their strongest team they can be very dangerous," Mahmutović said.

"However, we believe that our placement should not come into question, we always want to be first in the group."

The EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualification Round tips off on 10 August. The first-placed team in each of the seven groups as well as the six best second-placed teams will secure a place in the big tournament in the summer of 2015.


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