By Robert White
|Nikola Vucevic is putting himself into shape right now in order to be ready for Montenegro's training camp in August|
Nikola Vucevic is one of the NBA's brightest young stars, but the center hasn't taken much time off after a long season with the Orlando Magic.
Vucevic has been hard at work preparing for September's EuroBasket and will form one of the tournament's toughest frontcourts when he joins forces with another dominant NBA center in Nikola Pekovic.
Montenegro face some tough challenges in Group B, including Lithuania and Serbia, but Vucevic told fibaeurope.com he believes the country's talented team is ready for a successful EuroBasket campaign.
What has your off-season consisted of so far?
I took some time off after the season was over, but I started working out again around May 28. I was home for about two weeks working out then I went back to Orlando, working out there with most of the guys that are playing NBA Summer League. Now I'm back home working out until I join the national team on 1st August.
Shifting to EuroBasket, are you excited about the prospect of playing with Nikola Pekovic?
Definitely, I think it will make my job a lot easier playing with a big man like Pekovic. He's a very dominant player, very physical. The thing that's good about the two of us together is we kind of complete each other in that he's very physical where, although I can do both, I'm more mid-range, which will help.
Him having such a big body will mean him receiving attention from defences and I think that will give me some open space and vice versa. I think we are a good mix and I think with some of the other guys we have we should be a pretty good team.
|Will open up space for Vucevic inside: Nikola Pekovic|
With your ability to space the floor and Pekovic's ability to bang inside, will we see you two on the floor together a lot at EuroBasket?
I can't reveal that (laughs). I assume the coach is going to use us together, but we have a lot of different options inside and I think that's our main strength - under the basket. I think me and Pekovic will work together well and I think the coach will use a line-up with both of us a lot.
In your final year at the University of Southern California you averaged more than two three-point attempts-per-game, but since coming to the NBA you have shot just 11 threes in two seasons. Is your outside shot something that will be on display in Slovenia?
I won't really be spending much time shooting threes in Slovenia. If I get an open shot I'll take it, but I'm going to play the same way I play in Orlando. That's my main strength which is mid-range, under the basket and rebounding. Shooting threes isn't one of my main strengths and I want to do what's best for the team.
There are a few big teams also playing in Group B. Which country presents the greatest challenge?
I think definitely Serbia and Lithuania. If you look at history, or even the last couple of years, both teams have been pretty good. All of the teams in the group are tough; I mean it's the European Championship, so we'll have to play well against every team if we want to pass the group.
|Watch out Marc! Nikola Vucevic is out for revenge|
Who do you think is the player from Montenegro side that could be up for a breakout tournament?
I think there are a lot of guys on the team that have good chances of having a good summer. Definitely Bojan Dubljevic could play well. He's had a great season for Valencia. Aleksa Popovic played very well for his team Buducnost and I'm sure he'll play well for us.
The tournament is stacked with good big men. Is there any one player you're particularly looking forward to going against?
Hopefully if we play against Spain in the next round I'd like to play against Marc Gasol - someone I didn't play well against in the NBA and I'd like to play better against him because he's one of the best big men in the world.
What does it mean to you to represent Montenegro at EuroBasket?
It's fun to play for your country and to play with and against all the guys I played against when I was younger.
What do you miss most about home spending so much of the year playing in the NBA?
Definitely my family, my friends and the home cooking, but my girlfriend is with me and she cooks pretty well.