The veteran Savo Djikanovic (211-C-75, agency: Beo Basket) won another title in his successful career a week ago. His team Etha defeated Keravnos in the league final series (3-1) and took the 2nd title in a row in Cyprus. Savo is talking for Eurobasket.com about the very successfull season in Cyprus and past events that marked his career.
Savo, congratulations on your first title in Cyprus! Your team Etha defeated Keravnos in the finals, the team that completed the regular season in first place. In that way you won the championship of Cyprus for the second consecutive year. What are your impressions after winning the trophy?
Thank you for the kind wishes. We repated the same success from last year when Etha finished the regular season at the 4th place but won the title anyway. We eliminated the 2nd ranked Apollon in the semifinals and clashed with Keravnos in the finals. They were the favorites because they had only one defeat in the regular season but we won the title! I think my team showed to everybody how important is the team spirit if you want to win the championship.
You started the season in Marussi (Greece) but you decided to leave the team in December and move to Cyprus. In the meantime, the former Euroleague member experienced a real shipwreck and ended competition in the last place with 1- 23 record. It is now clear that you made the right decision, but I would like to know how hard was to make that decision at that time, knowing the history of Marussi and their importance in Greek basketball?
Marussi was a well organized and good team with great tradion. But things changed this season when the club president and main sponsor left them. The club also had problems with FIBA because they owed money to Jared Homan (206-C-83, college: Iowa St.) and it only made the things worse. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find a solution so many players decided to leave after just a couple of games. I am known as a tough competitor who does not like to leave the unsolved problems behind but I had no choice. I had to leave them and I do not regret now.
Could you recall the beginnings of your career for the for readers of Eurobasket ? Why did you decide to play basketball?
I have started my basketball career at the age of 14 when I enrolled in Buducnost Podgorica youth team. I was the tallest one in my generation and after some time I joined the first team of Buducnost. We won the first trophy in the clubs history when we defeated Partizan in a great Cup Final. I decided to start playing basketball because I knew it would help me to develop as a person and live a healthy life.
Basketball fans in the former Yugoslavia remembered you well in the season 2000-2001 season when the team led by you, Ranko Carapic (185-G-70, agency: Beo Basket), Nikola Vucurovic (200-G/F-80, agency: Global Sports Plaza), Zoran Milovic (204-C/F-77) reached the semifinals of YUBA League, which was back then a very competitive league. What type of memories link you to that period of your career, considering that the team was very young and talented but also succesfull?
I am really proud on my years in Lovcen. It was a well organized club with many good players and coaches and it was hard to beat us in Cetinje. We worked very hard in each practice trying to make a name for ourselves and the club. That club was the first important step in many successful careers, including mine.
In 2003 you moved from Lovcen to the giant from Athens, Olympiakos, and debuted in the Euroleague. Now, as you are an experienced player you can objectively answer this question-How does it feel when a team like Olympiakos show interest in you? Although you must be aware that its hard to get enough space to prove yourself its hard to say no to such an important club, right?
When my agent Misko Raznatovic told me that such a strong club would like to hire me I was excited because everybody know what the name Olympiakos means in Europe. It did not take me long to recall all the great names that passed through the history of basketball club Olympiakos. Thanks to the coach of Lovcen Goran Bojanic who convinced the club's mangement to let me go I got a chance to join the great club from Athens. Of course, I did not think twice. It was a dream come true.
Olympiakos was for me a big experience because it was my first season abroad. At that time the club from Athens had a team full of veterans and it was hard for me to get a lot of playing time. Thanks to Nenad Markovic and Milan Tomic I passed successfully some hard moments there and I am very grateful to them although as a team we did not have a great season.
After only one season in Greece you came back to Serbia& Montenegro and joined Hemofarm where you career reached its peak. With Hemofarm you won the Adriatic League for the first (and only ..) time in their history, made the ULEB Cup semifinals and finals of the domestic championship twice. A great generation of the team from Vrsac was led by you, Nebojsa Bogavac (199-G-73, agency: BeoExcell), Bojan Bakic (197-G-83, agency: Alti Sport) etc. What was the key to your success in those years and what do you think about the latest finacial difficulties of the team from Vrsac, knowing the fact that you spent three very successful seasons there?
I can say now that three seasons in Hemofarm were the best years in my career. Every finals against Partizan was a story in itself, and nobody forced them to fight so hard in the finals series like we did. Of course, I still regret because we did not win the domestic championship title although we had a very good team and a nice budget. But we won the Adriatic League final game against Partizan in Belgrade and nobody can take that away from us. Besides that, we also had a lot of success in Europe. The key of our success was in the great team chemistry and good organization on and off the court. I think my former club will soon return where it belongs because it is a serious project where a lot of money has been invested. Hemofarms youth teams are still among the best in the country and youth coaches are very good so I am not affraid for Hemofarms future.
In the 2006-2007 season you tried your luck for the second time in Greece, but this time as a mature player, a leader. And you did not make a mistake. For Olimpia GE Larisa you averaged 10.9 ppg and 6.5rpg while shooting 55.0% from the field. My question is- Why Greece? It was your desire to prove yourself there after the episode in Olympiakos, or simply it was the best offer at that point of your career?
I chose again to go to Greece because I was familiar with that style of play. I like to play hard basketball and Greece fits well to my style of play. I probably could have chosen some other country to test my skills but I did not want to take any chances. And I was right. The year after I left Hemofarm was one of my most successful seasons abroad.
Your career after Hemofarm was mainly related to Greece and Cyprus, where you lived last year a basketball renaissance at the age of 36 (averaged double-double in the first part of the Championship- 14.8ppg, 10.3rpg). To be the best rebounder in that league is no small thing, knowing that the League is full of American players. Have you found peace in that part of the Mediterranean, and how long do you plan to play professional basketball?
Everyone who has lived or travelled to Greece or Cyprus knows how close they are to our culture and mentality. After many years abroad I have met many friends there. I hear often the question: How long are you going to play basketball? but I always reply that I would play one more season...but after that season there is another one etc. Honestly, I do not know. I can say that I am grateful to my fitness coach and friend Dejan Jasovic who met me when I played for Lovcen and we still have a wonderful collaboration. Dejan works with me every summer and helps me to get ready for the hard challenges.
Do you have time to follow basketball in Montenegro? Does our basketball league have a future?
I follow the basketball league in Montenegro and as I can see the league has made no progress. Actually, it is worse than it was a couple of years ago. The only good thing that I noticed is that some clubs are trying to promote junior players and give them a chance at the highest stage in Montenegro. I think that we need a strong Buducnost but also strong basketball centers with tradition such as Lovcen, Sutjeska, Mornar, Jedinstvo, Berane, Herceg Novi etc. Only if we make efforts to revive those cities our league will gain respect abroad.
Thank you Savo for this interview! Eurobasket.com would like to wish you a nice off-season. Rest well after the exhausting season!
Thank you once again for the kind wishes. I wish you all the best!
213-C-90, college: USC) is a well known name to basketball fans in the whole world. Born in Switzerland, raised in Belgium and Montenegro, professional player in the best league in the world- the National Basketball Association (NBA). EuroBasket.com interviewed him during his stay in Montenegro, while he was on a mission with Montenegrin National Team which ended successfully (Montenegro qualified for the European championship). Hello Nikola, could you tell us how did you... [read more]
Nikola Vucevic (213-C-90, college: USC) is a well known name to basketball fans in the whole world. Born in Switzerland, raised in Belgium and Montenegro, professional player in the best league in the world- the National Basketball Association (NBA). EuroBasket.com interviewed him during his stay in Montenegro, while he was on a mission with Montenegrin National Team which ended successfully (Montenegro qualified for the European championship).
Hello Nikola, could you tell us how did your basketball career start?
I have started playing basketball in Belgium, my father played there professionally. I watched him play, he was my role model and I felt in love with basketball at the age of 9. Then my family moved back to Montenegro.
Coming back to Montenegro was probably a cultural shock knowing that you were raised in Belgium?
Actually, it was not such a big cultural shock for me as I already had friends here. We used to come every summer for vacation to our home country. The only little issue was the knowledge of the local language. I went to French schools so it took me a while to adjust to learning in a different language although I was able to speak it fluently. Basketball was not a problem, its a very universal language so it did not take me long to learn basketball expressions. I was very skinny and I played as a shooting guard at that time.
Your father Borislav Vucevic (201-F-58) was a well known player who played in KK Bosna and Yugoslavian National team as well as abroad. He had a long career and even played at the Belgium League All Star game in his 40s. Did you see his basketball past as a burden for your basketball development or as a motivation to become even a better player?
He did not put any pressure on me. I told him that my wish was to play basketball and he replied that I was talented but I need to work a lot and make sacrifices to be successful. He warned me that I would not have the same life style as my friends if I wanted to be a good basketball player but I was motivated to give it a try. Both my mom and dad played basketball so after a while I realized basketball could be my profession.
As a high school student you were at the crossroads- what to do next? Not many people know that you actually went to Serbian team FMP Zeleznik for try-outs but at the end decided to go to a high school in America. Could you tell us more about that decision?
My first option was FMP Zeleznik. I did try-outs with them, for head coach Slobodan Klipa. They were interested in me but we did not reach agreement. At that time I head from a family friend Vito Dragovic whose son Nikola Dragovic (206-F-87, college: UCLA, agency: BeoBasket) played for UCLA that American basketball would be an option to consider. My dad liked the idea, we thought about it and decided to take a chance. Now I realize it was the best move for me and I am proud on my decision. I was also lucky to go to a good high school and later to a good college. I think that the US system can be very beneficial for our basketball players because between 300-400 NCAA colleges you can choose one that will give you a chance and help you improve.
From a small city like Bar you moved to a big state (California). You got a chance in a good school and after promoting yourself there you had another choice to make- finding the right college to continue your basketball development. How did that choice go?
I talked to my family. It was a hard decision to make, I did not have many offers though. The most serious offers were Nevada Reno and USC. There were some other schools that showed interest too. My first choice was Nevada but at the last minute I changed my mind and went to USC. It took me one month to make that decision. But it was the right decision. I had a chance to collaborate with good coaches and teammates, got a chance to play immediately. As a sophomore I started and played over 30 mins a game.
After your junior year you decided to apply for the NBA draft. You had one more year of eligibility. Why did you make that decision?
I thought the level I reached in college was good enough to try to fulfill my dream and play in the NBA. I made a big step forward in the final part of my junior year and it convinced my to try new challenges. I also knew that I was as good as any other post player in my draft class so it gave me confidence. My goal was to make to be a first round pick. I had work outs with 13 NBA teams, two work outs a day. The predictions were that I would be picked as a late first round pick or early second round. But after the work outs my chances got better and I was chosen by the 76ers as a first round draft pick.
You spent your rookie season with the 76ers. How did the team accept you as a rookie? It was a good year for me, I had ups and downs of course but I believe I had a good rookie season. The team was a mix or experienced and young players and they accepted me well, especially Andre Iguodala (198-SF-84, college: Arizona) who was the team captain and best players and he helped me a lot to adjust to the NBA level.
After the 76ers traded you to the Magic you came to a team that started a rebuilding phase. You got a chance immediately to show your worth as a started. How hard it was to adjust to a new role knowing that you were just a rotation player at the 76ers? I was not sure that I would be a starter. They had Gustavo Ayon (207-C/F-85, college: San Jose St.) as a center but I knew I could fight for the starting five position so I arrived earlier to Orlando, 20 days before the start of the training camp, and it helped me a lot. It was a big change for me. I was not one of the leaders because Orlando had Jameer Nelson (183-PG-82, college: St.Joseph's), Hedo Turkoglu (208-F-79), Glen Davis (206-F-86, college: LSU) etc but I played as the starting center and contributed to the team's results. The teammates and coaches believed in me and I started growing as a player during the season.
This season you were considered one of the elite centers in the NBA. During the summer there were rumors that you would move to a new club but it did not happen and you decided to stay in Orlando. Yes, the club brought few good players this summer and I believe we can make the play offs in the upcoming season. Of course we will need to work hard to do that but its my desire to reach the play offs with Orlando as I am now one of the most experienced players there and its my fifth year in Orlando.
You got a call from Montenegro National Team at the end of season and decided to play for your home country in the qualifications for the European Championship. Interestingly, the head coach of the National Team is Bogdan Tanjevic (agency: Interperformances ) who coached your father in Bosna long time ago. Do you feel honored to be coached by him? I did not have any doubts about that decision. Actually, I was looking forward to collaborate with coach Tanjevic. He helped us a lot because now we have good team chemistry and its very important for any team. We come to practices happy and he is a big reason why Montenegro had a successful campaign this summer and qualified for the European Championships. I am very glad I was a part of this team.
Thank you Nikola for the interview and good luck in the upcoming season.
21-year old Montenegrin Pavle Roganovic (95, college: High School). He played most recently at Meliksah in Turkish TB2L. Despite young age Roganovic had impressive career. Roganovic's team made it to the Montenegrin U19 Championships Semifinals in 2013. He was selected to Montenegrin U18 Championships All-Star Game back in 2013 at his college time. He was a member of Montenegrin U20 National Team last year. Roganovic has played also professionally in Montenegro (KK... [read more]
KK Sloboda Uzice signed 21-year old Montenegrin Pavle Roganovic (95, college: High School). He played most recently at Meliksah in Turkish TB2L. Despite young age Roganovic had impressive career. Roganovic's team made it to the Montenegrin U19 Championships Semifinals in 2013. He was selected to Montenegrin U18 Championships All-Star Game back in 2013 at his college time. He was a member of Montenegrin U20 National Team last year. Roganovic has played also professionally in Montenegro (KK ABS Primorje 1945 Herceg Novi). He attended High School until 2015 and it will be his second season as a professional player.
Darussafaka Dogus 80 - KK Buducnost 57 (24-16; 18-10, 15-13; 23-18) Darussafaka Dogus has just beaten Montenegrin side KK Buducnost and reached the final of Zadar Dogus Tournament: 80-57. American forward Will Clyburn(201-F-90, college: Iowa St.) led his team to an easy victory by scoring 24 points. They'll be playing in the final of the tournament tomorrow at 21:00 C. Darussafaka Dogus has taken the lead in the early first period and kept on increasing the gap. They were up by 16 points... [read more]
Darussafaka Dogus has just beaten Montenegrin side KK Buducnost and reached the final of Zadar Dogus Tournament: 80-57. American forward Will Clyburn (201-F-90, college: Iowa St.) led his team to an easy victory by scoring 24 points. They'll be playing in the final of the tournament tomorrow at 21:00 C. Darussafaka Dogus has taken the lead in the early first period and kept on increasing the gap. They were up by 16 points at the end of first half: 42-26. In the second half Darussafaka never let Buducnost come closer than 15 points and thanks to a strong defensive team effort won the game by 23: 80-57. It was 8th successive preseason game for Darussafaka Dogus.
Copyright (c) 1998-2016 Eurobasket Inc. Disclaimer
Do not copy, redistribute, publish or otherwise exploit information that you download from the site !
Do not encumber, license, modify, publish, sell, transfer or transmit, or in any way exploit, any of the
content of the site, nor will you attempt to do so.