Novi Zagreb Show Intent With Ivankovic

14. Luca Ivankovic (Croatia)
Luca Ivankovic has inked a deal with Novi Zagreb for the up-and-coming domestic season

Croatian national team center Luca Ivankovic has agreed to a switch from Jolly Sibenik to Novi Zagreb, who have also outlined a desire to improve on their rookie campaign.

The acquisition of Ivankovic is a real coup, since she was the standout player in the Croatian League last season with a phenomenal 21.5 points and 10.2 rebounds-per-game in her seventh year with Jolly. She has played at three EuroBasket Women tournaments.

It had been anticipated by both clubs and even the player herself that a move to Dynamo Moscow was done and dusted earlier in the summer, but Vice President Dragan Crnjak is delighted to have been able to prise Ivankovic from a fellow Croatian club.

He said, "We talked with Luca before the beginning of national team preparations and they told us that Dynamo was very much a done deal.

"However, as we followed the news from Moscow and saw that they had signed a Russian player in that position, then the best center in EuroLeague Women last year in Tina Charles, we realised that there might be room for negotiation and a possibility Luca would not go to Moscow.

"We therefore reacted and concluded a deal."

The player herself also insisted she was happy to be heading for the Croatian capital.

She said, "I'm happy coming to Novi Zagreb because the club is well organised, just like Jolly, the club where I'm from.

"I know that the club is ambitious as a EuroLeague Women team. This makes me especially happy and I know pretty much all the girls and some I've played with before.

"I am excited to join the team and to achieve better results together."

As far as Crnjak is concerned, the reduction to 16 teams in the competition for 2015, means performing is an absolute must.

"The important thing is that we have the support of sponsors and the City of Zagreb because we want to show that Croatian women's basketball can say something in Europe.

"It's important that we get through the first EuroLeague Women round, it is our primary goal, so that we can compete in EuroLeague Women for the following year, when the number of teams reduced to sixteen instead of twenty."

Crnjak also admitted to chasing experienced Turkish wing Saziye Ivegin with real vigour but admitted the club may be priced out of a deal.

"It is true that we are in negotiations, but we must still consult with sponsors because it exceeds our set our budget," he explained.

Ivankovic will play alongside veteran Spanish center Lucila Pascua, who leaves to play basketball outside of her homeland for the very first time.

The duo will also have to compete for court-time with Slovenian center Tina Trebec who joins fellow Slovenian Eva Komplet who has also signed. Croatian quartet Kristina Benic, Josipa Bura, Matea Vrdoljak and Lisa Karcic will also be on board.

Pulling the strings in the backcourt will be several new faces including Croatian national team playmaker Iva Ciglar and Serbian floor-general Milica Dabovic.

Monika Bosilj also joins from domestic rivals Gospic, where she racked up an impressive 16.2 points and 5.1 rebounds-per-game, helping her find a spot at EuroBasket Women.

Meanwhile the highly rated Krisztina Raksanyi will gain her first taste of life outside Hungary after five seasons with Pecs and last year at Uni Gyor, where she averaged 8.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in EuroLeague Women.



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