|30 November 2012|
|Matjaz Smodis is returning to where it all began|
KRKA Novo Mesto are not an undersized team, but have been light at the power forward position for the past month, since losing Jurica Golemac to injury.
The Slovenian was sidelined in late October and has been unable to help the Novo Mesto side in the EuroChallenge, where KRKA are fighting to secure one of the top-two spots in Regular Season Group A.
The Novo Mesto club did not move to replace the 35-year-old power forward immediately, but were on the look out for someone who could maybe in the meantime help out with his experience, someone who knows the club well and the young players will look up to.
Ideally, a former Slovenian international and three-time Euroleague champion.
Step in, Matjaz Smodis.
The Novo Mesto club announced in an eagerly-anticipated press conference on Friday that they have convinced the great Slovenian player to return to action at the same place he started his career, 18 years ago.
"I had other offers from abroad but I had no desire to return to action there," Smodis said on Friday.
"For me, there was just this option. The money is secondary, my arrival here is the only right thing to do and will be the icing on the cake for my career."
"Matjaz is willing to help the club and finish his career where it began," KRKA president Brane Kastelec added.
Smodis however, who will turn 33 in two weeks' time, is not in a condition to help immediately as his last competitive game was last season, with Cedevita Zagreb.
He will join the team in practices and is expected to make his debut in early January
The club has also made clear that Golemac will remain on the roster and that signing Smodis will simply add to the options coach Aleksander Sekulic has in the frontcourt.
Golemac had a knee operation in November and could return to action also in January.
Injuries have affected Smodis's career to a big extent.
"Some chronic problems remain, this was the main reason I finished with basketball," he said on Friday.
"I didn't have the desire to deal with the pain every day."
Smodis also announced that he will remain at KRKA in a different role capacity after he retires definitely as a player at the end of the running season, "but not as a coach," he said.
He also did not specify the nature of his involvement with the Slovenian national team at EuroBasket 2013, although he did say he will not be there as a player.
Smodis first suited up for his country in 1996, and debuted with the senior Slovenian team at EuroBasket 1999.
He played in a further five EuroBasket tournaments, with his last appearace coming in Lithuania in 2011.
At club level, after leaving KRKA as Slovenian league champion in 2000, he won the Euroleague title with Virtus Bologna in 2001 and with CSKA Moscow in 2006 and 2008.
Smodis has also won five Russian league and two Italian league titles.