Miodrag Kadija, who coached many professional basketball teams during his career in Montenegro and abroad, talks for eurobasket.com about his great success with Lovcen achieved at the beginning of 21st century and current situation in Montenegrin basketball. This opinion is coming from someone who is a dedicated basketball worker, responsible for many successfull basketball careers, and therefore its worth reading and analyzing.
Mr. Kadija, could you tell us more about your basketball beginnings?
When I was a child I practiced all sports. As a 14 years old I opted for basketball and that year I got a call to join the first team of Lovcen. We partecipated in the Cadet Championships in Split, former Yugoslavia, and were placed fourth. We lost by half point from Red Star in the Consolation Final, and I was the first scorer of the tournament. But after I enrolled in the Faculty of Economics I was unable to reconcile the duties on the court and in school so my playing career was actually short, but as soon as I finished college I staerted the coaching career.
When did you decide to start coaching?
It was the season 1993/1994, the time of war and sanctions. I started in Lovcen as a junior team coach, and besides that, I was the assistant coach in Momir Milatovic's coaching staff. After a year and a half I got a chance as a head coach in the Super League and against Partizan, which was full national team players and I can say that this match was the turning point in my career. Partizan was coached by Ranko Zeravica and had Dejan Koturovic (211-C-72), Predrag Drobnjak (212-F/C-75), Dejan Tomasevic (208-F/C-73, agency: Beo Basket), Miroslav Beric (198-G-73), Haris Brkic (200-G/F-74), Aleksandar Cubrilo (207-F-75) etc. We won by 16 points in Bar because our court was suspended. After that, we won at home against BFC Beocin led by Milenko Topic (204-F-69), Zeljko Topalovic (209-C-72) and Vladimir Kuzmanovic (195-G-71, agency: Beo Basket) and had good result during that season which allowed me to stay there next seven years, as the head coach of Lovcen.
Basketball fans in the former Yugoslavia got familiar with your name at the beginning of 21st century when Lovcen reached the semifinals of the championship of Yugoslavia (2001) and promoted a number of basketball players and national team members such as Nebojsa Bogavac (199-G-73, agency: BeoExcell), Djuro Ostojic (211-C-76, agency: Beo Basket), Savo Djikanovic (211-C-75, agency: Beo Basket), Ivan Koljevic (187-PG-84, agency: New Trend Agency) etc. What was the secret of Lovcens success in these years given that most of these players were unknown and only exploded when you started coaching them?
These were all good guys and it was easy to work with them. This generation has produced a lot of good players and I'm proud of it. Really, we have worked hard and it was our secret to success. That year we were able to beat Partizan, Red Star, FMP and Hemofarm twice which shows how successful we were. The only setback was the injury of Ranko Carapic (185-G-70, agency: Beo Basket) at the beginning of season but we had a very good season in a quality league such as YUBA League. Lovcen was not able to compete with other teams with financial resources, but we were able to convince players to come anyway because they knew that in our team there was always a good atmosphere and guaranteed hard work.
After the great results you achieved with Lovcen, you got the call from the most successfull club in the Nation at that moment, Buducnost from Podgorica.
Yes, Buducnost was a great challenge. However, during that season we had to play in three competitions and players were physically destroyed by playing 3 games a week in the Adriatic League, domestic league and Euro League. We had a schedule similar to NBA teams. Despite this, we managed to stay at the top of the table during the most part of the season in domestic league but due to disagreement with some players I decided to leave the club before the end of the season. Perhaps I was too young and unexperienced. I should have stayed until the end of the season and finish the job, but its all part of the history now.
You continued your career in Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia. Tell us more about your experience in these countries?
In Serbia I coached Atlas, we played in ULEB Cup and I think it was a good season. I left the club at half of the season because our plans for the future did not meet plans. Then I took coaching job in Sloga before the league play-out. Sloga was in an awkward situation, they had to win five out of six games in order to avoid relegation! That for me was a challenge and we managed to do it. It is one of the major pleasures of my career, because very few people believed that we could make it. I worked in Macedonia for Strumica and I brought the team to the Play-off Finals where we lost in the fifth game against Feni. Then I coached Igokea and I can say that it was the right move, but I believed that we could have done much more. However, I met many good people there and its also important.
In 2009 you decided to return to Lovcen and started building up a new young team?
It was a great pleasure to lead Lovcen again because we had the youngest team in the league, and we played against Buducnost in the Championship finals, and in the Balkan League against Levski. We also promoted two future National Team members- Aleksa Popovic (201-SF-87) and Bojan Dubljevic (205-PF-91, agency: Beo Basket).
In addition to success with the clubs you coached, you also had great success with various national team selections (Champions of Balkans and two bronze medals at the European B Championships ) and I feel you are the right person to respond on this question - Which way is Montenegrin basketball going and do young players get enough playing time in their teams?
I think that young players are not given enough space. When I led the junior selections I was always scrupulously careful to invite players who have the potential, not only players who can contribute immediately, and as evidence of good strategies many of them have later continued to play for the U20 and for the senior national team. In the youth national teams is essential to direct the players in the right way, not the take the maximum out of them.
Also in 2003 years with Cadet national team of Serbia and Montenegro, I won the European Championship in Madrid. It was a great generation led by Milos Teodosic (195-PG-87), Nemanja Aleksandrov (210-C/F-87), Dragan Labovic (208-PF-87, agency: Alti Sport) etc and we won each game by 25 points (average difference), and destroyed Spain, which hosted the tournament. It was not easy because in this tournament participated some future NBA players Goran Dragic (190-PG-86), Ersan Ilyasova (207-F-87), Semih Erden (211-F/C-86) etc..
Montenegrin league has been for years in the shadow of Buducnost. Do you think that there is a realistic chance to change that situation soon and whats your opinion on domestic leagues quality?
I think it will be difficult to change this soon, not just because someone does not want to make progress, but because Buducnost plays in the strong Adriatic league game and they are forced to put together a strong team every year. Another problem is the new rule introduced by the Federation saying that a young player needs to be on the court at any time during the game. In sports in general, the rule is that if you know how to play you will play but if you do not know you will not play, and no other rules are needed. I'm sure every coach would give a chance to a young player if he is talented. My view is that in the roster there should be three young players, but nobody of them must be constantly on the court because in that way they get a non deserved chance, in other words- thye play because they are young! That rule did not bring anything good. First Division should not be limited because people invest money and you can not make limit their ambitions with these rules. I repeat, no coach will allow his young players to warm the bench if they have the quality to play!
Did you follow the results and achievements of the National team of Montenegro led by Luka Pavicevic (agency: Beo Basket ) last summer? Did they leave a good impression on you?
I think they achieved a great result. Nobody would have expected that. Luka Pavicevic (agency: Beo Basket ) should be blamed for this result because he was the architect of that team. I hope we will not stop here, and if Nikola Pekovic (209-C-86, agency: Beo Basket) and Nikola Vucevic (210-C-90, college: USC) join the team next summer more good things will happen next summer, I am sure about that.
You had many offers during the summer, from foreign and domestic clubs, but you did not take any of them. If a club wants you to coach them what kind of conditions are needed?
The main thing is good atmosphere in the whole club. That club also needs to make long term plans and to be able to follow me and my ambitions. I decided to sit out last season and now I am more than ready and hungry to show myself in the best way possible. All I need is a good opportunity and I hope it will arrive soon. I feel that I can reach my maximum in the year to come and I am looking forward to it.
Thank you Mr. Kadija for this interview. I wish you to find a good club where you will produce some new names for the National Team of Montenegro.
25-year old American forward Cole Dickerson (201-104kg-91, college: USF) left KK Mornar Basket Bar (Erste Liga). In 10 games he averaged 9.3ppg and 3.3rpg this season. He also played 8 games in Basketball Champions League where he had 4.6ppg, 2.6rpg and 1.0spg. The last season Dickerson played at Egis Kormend in Hungarian A Division. In 38 games he recorded 12.7ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.4apg and 1.0spg. He helped them to win the cup and make to league semifinals. A very good season in his career as... [read more]
25-year old American forward Cole Dickerson (201-104kg-91, college: USF) left KK Mornar Basket Bar (Erste Liga). In 10 games he averaged 9.3ppg and 3.3rpg this season. He also played 8 games in Basketball Champions League where he had 4.6ppg, 2.6rpg and 1.0spg. The last season Dickerson played at Egis Kormend in Hungarian A Division. In 38 games he recorded 12.7ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.4apg and 1.0spg. He helped them to win the cup and make to league semifinals. A very good season in his career as he was selected to Eurobasket.com All-Hungarian League Honorable Mention. Dickerson also played 6 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he got 11.2ppg, 3.8rpg and 1.7apg. Among other achievements Dickerson received All-WCC 1st Team award in 2013 and 2014 at his college time. Dickerson has played previously professionally in Finland (Lapuan Korikobrat) and Holland (Den Helder). He attended University of San Francisco until 2014 and it is his third season in pro basketball.
23-year old Serbian small forward Nemanja Krstic (205-93) left KK Mornar Basket Bar (Erste Liga). In 10 games he averaged 3.6ppg and 1.5rpg this season. He also played 10 games in Basketball Champions League where he had 4.7ppg and 1.6rpg. The last season Krstic played at Igokea in Bosnia and Herzegovina Division I. In 15 games he recorded 11.1ppg and 2.8rpg. He helped them to win the league title (twice) and the cup (also twice). Krstic also played 14 games in ABA League where he got 5.4... [read more]
23-year old Serbian small forward Nemanja Krstic (205-93) left KK Mornar Basket Bar (Erste Liga). In 10 games he averaged 3.6ppg and 1.5rpg this season. He also played 10 games in Basketball Champions League where he had 4.7ppg and 1.6rpg. The last season Krstic played at Igokea in Bosnia and Herzegovina Division I. In 15 games he recorded 11.1ppg and 2.8rpg. He helped them to win the league title (twice) and the cup (also twice). Krstic also played 14 games in ABA League where he got 5.4ppg and 2.6rpg. He was also a member of Serbian international program for some years. Krstic played for Serbian Senior National Team between 2013 and 2014 and previously for U20 National Team between 2012 and 2013. He also represented Serbia at the European Championships in Slovenia three years ago. His stats at that event were 5 games: 2.0ppg. Krstic has played also professionally for other Serbian teams like Vrsac, Mega Leks and Knjazevac.
KK ABS Primorje 1945 Herceg Novi (Erste Liga) added to their roster experienced 34-year old center Vladan Jocovic (211-115kg-82) from S.Centar. The experience big man signed an open contract and will be able to move abroad if a better opportunity presents itself after New Year holidays. Jocovic ended the last season at Trepca (SuperLeague) in Kosovo where in 5 games he averaged 3.4ppg and 3.6rpg. But the most of that year he spent at Ibar Rozaje. In 14 Erste Liga games he had 12.7ppg and... [read more]
KK ABS Primorje 1945 Herceg Novi (Erste Liga) added to their roster experienced 34-year old center Vladan Jocovic (211-115kg-82) from S.Centar. The experience big man signed an open contract and will be able to move abroad if a better opportunity presents itself after New Year holidays. Jocovic ended the last season at Trepca (SuperLeague) in Kosovo where in 5 games he averaged 3.4ppg and 3.6rpg. But the most of that year he spent at Ibar Rozaje. In 14 Erste Liga games he had 12.7ppg and 6.9rpg. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Jocovic was voted Eurobasket.com All-Montenegrin League 2nd Team back in 2012. He is quite experienced player. Jocovic's career allowed him to visit three different continents, while he played in nine different countries. Jocovic tasted the life as pro basketball player in Europe, and Africa. He has played previously professionally also in Austria, Greece (Pagrati), Poland, Romania (Otopeni), Slovenia, Tunisia (ES Rades), Bosnia (Borac Banja Luka and Spars Sarajevo), Kosovo (Peja) and Montenegro (Teodo Tivat, Sutjeska and KK Zeta 2011 Golubovci).
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