|15 May 2013|
|Jasmin Repesa's future as head coach of the Croatian national team depends on his contract situation with Spanish side Unicaja Malaga |
By Dimitris Kontos
Coach Jasmin Repesa returned to the helm of the Croatian national team last summer and led them to a highly successful EuroBasket Qualification Round campaign.
He took over at Spanish club Unicaja Malaga in September and, almost immediately, questions started arising with regards to whether he would stay in charge of Croatia and who would coach the national team at EuroBasket 2013 if he didn't.
Repesa has all the answers clear in his head and, most of all, is eager to communicate to Croatian fans that they have no reason to be preoccupied ahead of September's EuroBasket.
"Malaga has an option on my contract and two days after the last official game, Malaga will take a decision [on the prolongation of the contract for another year], so everything depends on that," Repesa told fibaeurope.com.
"I am a professional; I have to follow the rules in a professional relationship.
"There is no doubt that I take responsibility for the programme of the national team.
"But if Repesa will not be the coach, then Croatia will have a better coach than Repesa."
If Malaga are defeated at FC Barcelona on Sunday and miss out on the Spanish Liga Endesa play-offs, we could know the name of the head coach of Croatia by next Tuesday; if they win and advance to the post-season, we will find out 48 hours after the end of their play-off run.
In either case, if Malaga exercise their option to continue their collaboration with Repesa, he will not coach the Croatian national team at the EuroBasket.
"I will say it one more time: If Repesa is not the coach, the federation will take a decision and there will be a better coach than Repesa," the 52-year-old tactician repeats with emphasis.
Is Neven Spahija that better coach, as media in Croatia have reported extensively?
"He is available and he is ready to take the national team, he has shown in this situation that he is a great person," Repesa reveals.
"My opinion is that he is a great coach, I have a great relationship with him, I am in contact with him almost every day,"
"[Spahija] fully understands my situation and that of the national team."
"I am part of the board that takes decisions and I also take responsibility," Repesa adds, leaving little doubt that in his view the former Fenerbahce, Valencia, Tau Vitoria and Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach will be the ideal successor in case his contract with Malaga is prolonged.
|Dario Saric made his debut for the senior national team last year and is likely to be on the team again this summer|
EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, PLAYERS ON BOARD
The Malaga coach is confident that even if his team go on a deep play-off run and their front office postpones the decision, there would still be no reason for anyone in Croatia to worry about the national team's preparations for the EuroBasket being compromised.
"Everything is under control, the federation has everything under control," Repesa states categorically.
"The [preparation] schedule is already done, I have that information from the federation, the training programme, the scrimmage (warm-up) games, everything is ready.
"It's my national team and I will do anything to help [in another capacity], like an assistant, an advisor, like the person who started a new programme last year and created a new atmosphere, a great relationship.
"First of all the approach is different than before and this programme has to go ahead.
Regardless of whether it will be Repesa or Spahija that pace the sideline in Slovenia, the success of the Croatian national team at the EuroBasket will largely depend on how many of their vastly talented players will take to the court.
"They will play," Repesa states adamantly.
"They will play because last year I permitted to anyone who had a problem to resolve it, but everyone promised last summer they would come [to the EuroBasket].
"If they've forgotten that, they will have to say why they forgot what they have promised.
"Croatia does not have 50, 70 or a thousand players [at this level] like the USA.
"We have a maximum of 20 players who are able to play in the national team and they know very well that they will play."
Croatia were drawn in First Round Group C, together with reigning champions Spain, hosts Slovenia, Poland, Georgia and the Czech Republic and despite his general optimism, Repesa is careful not to raise expectations at this stage.
"Croatia has great potential, but what we miss in the last years is a good result," he said.
"We will play very close [to home], in Slovenia, and we will have many of our fans there.
"I hope that if we make a good preparation we will bring a good result.
"The last time I was the coach of the national team (his first spell was from 2005 to 2009) we made it to the World Championship after 15 years and to the Olympics after 15 years.
"In my opinion, this generation is ready to make again a good result."