Eurobasket.com, as the most complete basketball web site you can find around, does not deal only with Elite competitions but also wants to give a chance to small, ambitious clubs with big hopes for the future. One of these clubs is for sure basketball club Strsljen from Gusinje,a small town in Northern Montenegro. Its founder and player Alen Rugovac (184-PG-85) explains how this idea saw the light and what motivated him to start this great project in probably the most underdeveloped region in whole Montenegro.
Hello Alen, how did you start playing basketball?Who was your idol when you were a little kid?
I started to play basketball when I was 11 years old. When I first moved to America I fell in love with the game. At that time Michael Jordan (199-F-63, college: N.Carolina) was a icon that everyone watched and follow and that is when I decided to pick up a basketball. I loved Michael Jordan but my favorite player of all time Id have to say was Allen Iverson (184-G-75, college: Georgetown). He simply went against the odds. Is my height and weight and never feared the big stage. He is also one reason I fell in love with the game of basketball.
In 2012 you founded Basketball Strsljen in Gusinje and the team will compete in Division II of Montenegro this year. How did you get the idea to bring professional basketball to the town of Gusinje?
Well, when I moved to Gusinje 5 years ago I asked locals about playing for a basketball team out here but unfortunately there was not one. Since than I have had the idea but it always seemed like it was impossible because we didnt have a sports gym. Also this town has less than 1 thousand people living here year around. When I first arrived there wasnt even a gym in Plav which is a 15 minute drive from Gusinje. 3 Years ago a Sport Gym was built in the town of Plav and 2 years ago a handball team was also created there and that is when I saw my chance to create a basketball team. That is pretty much where the idea came from.
Who helped you in the realization of this plan? What you needed to do in order to overcome all the obstacles?
Well, in creating any sports team the most important thing is the financial support. Without that you really cant get anything going regardless of how much talent you may have. The town of Gusinje and Plav has majority of their citizens living in the United States. With that I was able to gather some funds to be able to start. Also the Mayor of Gusinje was my main support in the registration process as well as learning the ropes of creating a sports team here. Also another problem was not having your own Gym and traveling every day 15 minutes away to practice but eventually we just found a way. I also expect help from Gusinje Foundation who helps this end of the country and sports organizations such as ours. I also received help from donators from America as well as the Opstina in Plav.
How did the local authorities react on this idea? Did they support you?
The local authorities showed a solid amount of support. It could have been a lot less and it could have been a lot more. Financially there isnt much support but the reality is we cant blame them because this side of the country isnt in great financial stance therefore even if they wanted to they probably arent financially stable enough to. But I think overall support was solid and it will get better.
Strsljen played its first game in October against BC Gorstak and lost but it was actually a great step for the young club and the whole organization. Do you think you will be able to count on fans this year and in which way you plan to promote the idea?
The reality is that I am disappointed that we lost our first ever official game but it was a overall victory for our organization and this town. We played against a team that is much more experienced than majority of our players. We had a great fan turnout and support. Fans behaved great and support us even after the loss and only gave us positive feedback. The fans will continue to come out and support us and I am sure that they understand that this is our first ever season. We are here for the long run and I hope the fans will be as well. We will promote the idea through the internet, posters and verbally.
Could you tell us more about the current team and what can be expected from you in the year to come?
Our team has great backcourt players. Fast, exciting, and experienced. Players such as my self, My brother Anel Rugovac (192-G-88) who is a very strong player who is also a great scorer, as well as our shooting guard Milos Jankovic (185-G-87). A great post player in Adil Radoncic (205-C-86), a very fast improving post player also in Vladislav Dragovic (198-C-88) and couple of promising young players. We have a good coaching staff in Slavko Knezevic as well as a good young assistant coach Donko Dasic . With that being said I expect us to leave our all on the court each and every game. As I stated earlier we are a new team with not a lot of experience but with enough games under our belt we will only get better and results will show. This year the most important thing for this organization is to play the game the right way, to receive support from people all around the world who know about the team.
Did you make any long term goals and would you be able to tell us more about that as well?
For now my goal is complete this season the best way we can and for all the players to only get better. The next season we plan on creating younger selections and school of basketball. As soon as we may have the opportunity to go to the first league we will do so, but until than we plan on just getting better and expanding basketball in this region of the country. In the future we would like to build this organization into a successful one as other clubs are in this country, where we are able to be financial stable to where we can have at least 3 mens selections and one womens. But of course those are our hopes for the future.
What do you think who is the biggest candidate to win the league this year and play next season in Erste Basketball League?
We havent had a opportunity to play against many teams yet, we have only heard of a few who may be top contenders to get in the first league. I heard that Zeta 2011 has a good team and have good support, fan wise as well as financial. They also brought in several players from the first league and plan on taking their team to the first league right away.
Did you follow Montenegrin National Team led by Luka Pavicevic (agency: Beo Basket ) last summer? Whats your opinion on their results?
Yes I did follow. I do have to say I am very impressed with how far the Sehovic brothers have come. I am also very impressed with how much a coaching change affected the national team. It shows a true meaning of a great coach. I always follow the Montenegro basketball team and I thought that they would have a tough time without players like Nikola Vucevic (210-C-90, college: USC), Nikola Pekovic (209-C-86, agency: Beo Basket) and Omar-Sharif Cook (188-PG-82, agency: Beo Basket, college: St.John's). But instead they did a great job playing together as a team and not worrying about individual stats. Montenegro basketball team showed the great meaning of team basketball and how strong one team can be when playing together.
Thank you Alen for the interview. Eurobasket.com wishes you good good luck in this adventure and we will keep following your results and achievements.
Thank you very much for giving me a opportunity to tell everyone about our organization. I hope that everyone will follow us and support us in any way that they can. Also if anyone wishes to help us it would be greatly appreciated. As I said earlier any help is help. Please Contact me at Alenrugovac24@gmail.com if anyone has any questions on how they may help us!. As you know our goals are to get kids off of streets and activate them in sports and into something positive and expand basketball in this region. Thank you!
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.
KK Jedinstvo Bijelo Polje (Erste Liga) landed 19-year old Montenegrin guard Milos Jelovac (188-77kg-97). He played most recently at BG 89 Rotenburg/Scheessel in German Oberliga. In 14 games he averaged impressive 22.6ppg last season. The previous (14-15) season Jelovac played at Gorstak (Prva B). He represented Montenegro at the European Championships U18 in Konya (Turkey) two years ago. His stats at that event were 3 games: 2.3ppg. Jelovac has played previously for Pljevlja. By Eurobask... [read more]
KK Jedinstvo Bijelo Polje (Erste Liga) landed 19-year old Montenegrin guard Milos Jelovac (188-77kg-97). He played most recently at BG 89 Rotenburg/Scheessel in German Oberliga. In 14 games he averaged impressive 22.6ppg last season. The previous (14-15) season Jelovac played at Gorstak (Prva B). He represented Montenegro at the European Championships U18 in Konya (Turkey) two years ago. His stats at that event were 3 games: 2.3ppg. Jelovac has played previously for Pljevlja.
Zadar outgun Buducnost at Zadar Dogus Tournament - 17 hours ago
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Zadar - Buducnost 90:80 Zadar posted the first victory at the home Zadar Dogus Basketball Tournament. They topped Buducnost for 1-1 record. Jakov Vladovic(187-PG-83), Ivan Marinkovic (209-F/C-93) and Boris Barac (205-F-92, agency: BeoBasket) scored 18 points apiece to lead the Croatian team. Zadar registered a 30:19 lead ten minutes into the game. They extended the lead at 12-point mark at the interval. Buducnost narrowed the deficit at 10-point mark heading into the fourth quarter. But... [read more]
Zadar - Buducnost 90:80
Zadar posted the first victory at the home Zadar Dogus Basketball Tournament. They topped Buducnost for 1-1 record. Jakov Vladovic (187-PG-83), Ivan Marinkovic (209-F/C-93) and Boris Barac (205-F-92, agency: BeoBasket) scored 18 points apiece to lead the Croatian team. Zadar registered a 30:19 lead ten minutes into the game. They extended the lead at 12-point mark at the interval. Buducnost narrowed the deficit at 10-point mark heading into the fourth quarter. But Zadar held their opponents to just 16 points in the final period and rallied to the win. Krajina netted 12 points in the victory. Shawn James (208-C-83, college: Northeastern) responded with 19 points for Buducnost. Sead Sehovic (196-G/F-89) and Nemanja Vranjes (187-G-88) posted 12 points apiece in the loss.
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