Coach Mladen Ostojic , born and raised in Bosnia, has been living in Herceg Novi, Montenegro for 18 years. Eurobasket.com took the opportunity to interview the former memebr of Bosna golden generation and ask him about his career and plans for the future.
Mr. Ostojic, could you tell us something about your playing career during the 70's and good moments in Bosna?
During the late 80-s and early 90-ies you coached a number of teams from all over the former state (Bosnia, Sutjeska, Rudar, Borac etc). How satisfied are you with the results in this period and how would you rate the quality of the then-league compared to what we have the opportunity to watch today in the former Yugoslavia?
I went in 1986 to the USA to improve my coaching abilities and learn and next year I got the opportunity to lead the senior team of Bosna.In these years, basketball was the number one sport in Yugoslavia thanks to strong organization and a number of top coaches. We, younger ones, were able to learn from them . The leagues were were interesting at all levels, the youngsters worked hard in their clubs and had the chance to play a lot, and there were no transfers from one club to the other every two months, unlike today when 15 and 16 year old players are just thinking about the material side of sport.
After the outbreak of the war in the former Yugoslavia you went to Greece and started working as an assistant coach at Panionios and then as head coach of Olimpiakos Volos in Division II. How did you make the decision to continue your career in Greece and how did you deal with the language barrier and other challenges that you faced abroad?
Yes, when the war started I went to Greece. My knowledge of English and quick learning of Greek helped me to adapt to work abroad.
After completion of the episode in Greece in the season 1996/1997 you returned to Yugoslavia and accepted to coach Herceg Novi, which then competed in the Yugoslav Second League. In Herceg Novi you spent the next two seasons. What do you remember about that period in your career and how good was the roster of that team?
When I returned from Greece in 1996 with my family I moved to Herceg Novi, where even now we live.Te two seasons have been successful, in a strong second division we avoided relegation and had a full hall every night. We were led by local boys Dusan Sucevic (204-F-61) and Dejan Jevtic but we also had many oung players from the region.
In the first decade of 21st century follows the most successful part of your career. You worked in Olympiakos as an assistant coach, and then run independently Israeli Premiership club Maccabi Ramat Gan and Shangdong from China. Could you tell us what is needed to prove yourself as a coach abroad and how much is difficult to survive on that level?
Since 1998 I have been permanently employed abroad. Knowledge of English is the most important for rapid adaptation to the conditions of life in foreign countries.It helped me a lot through the 1999-2000 season at Maccabi Haifa when we were considered as a team for the relegation place and we won the 4th place. The federation awarded me as the best foreign coach along with the famous coach of Maccabi Pini Gershon . As a foreign coach, you're always the most responsible for bad results, but with a lot of work and a little luck you can survive.
You also worked in Arab countries. How important was that experience for you?
Yes, I have worked in the Gulf countries twice, tI was the UAE National Team head coach in 2008 and in 2011-12 I worked in Saudi Arabia, Itihad. Its a very specific job coaching there, the players are not professionals and they practice once a day, but have great conditions and facilities. I also need to mention that UAE was not my only experience as National Team head coach. Last summer I was hired to help the National Team of Romania. It was a new experience and against strong competition we failed to qualify for the European Championship, but I am pleased with our performances and with a little more luck we could have won more, Problem of Romanian basketball is a large number of foreigners (7 in each team) , local players have little chance to play, and therefore the national team lacks quality.
Herceg Novi is a city in which you live today. Try to assess the state of Herceg Novi's basketball and basketball in general in Montenegro? Do you follow the domestic league?
I follow the league appearances of Primorje. Basketball in Herceg Novi is not in a great situation, finances are an issue, so the club needs to count on the young players, and this does not have to be bad. Generally the problem in Montenegro is the lack of competitive teams. With at least 2 or 3 more the domestic championship would be interesting. On the other hand, we have a strong national team and I wish them success on the European Championship in Slovenia next summer. Money should be invested in the education of young coaches (seminars, USA experience). There is still a lot of talent in this area and we do not need to worry about the future.
What are your plans for the future? Is there a possibility to continue your career at Erste basketball league?
I do not have a job at the moment. Since I have been a resident of Montenegro for about 18 years it would be my pleasure to work here.
Thank you for this interview. Eurobasket.com and myself wish you a lot of success in your career
Latkovic number one in Montenegro for round 19 (by Court Side) - 15 hours ago
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Guard Milos Latkovic (196-G-93, agency: Dynamics Global Management) had a great game in the last round for Lovcen, receiving a Court Side Player of the Week award for round 19.
The 23-year old player was the main contributor (35 points, five rebounds and four assists) to his team's victory, helping them to outclass Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) with 34-point margin 98-64. Lovcen maintains the 4th position in Montenegrin Erste Liga. They would have been even better if they hadn't lost a few games... [read more]
Guard Milos Latkovic (196-G-93, agency: Dynamics Global Management) had a great game in the last round for Lovcen, receiving a Court Side Player of the Week award for round 19. The 23-year old player was the main contributor (35 points, five rebounds and four assists) to his team's victory, helping them to outclass Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) with 34-point margin 98-64. Lovcen maintains the 4th position in Montenegrin Erste Liga. They would have been even better if they hadn't lost a few games earlier this season. Lovcen will need more victories to improve their 10-7 record. In the team's last game Latkovic had a remarkable 72.7% from 2-point range and got four three-pointers out of 6 attempts. He just recently signed at Lovcen, being already a very valuable addition to the team. Milos Latkovic has solid league stats. He is league's best scorer averaging so far 22.3ppg. Latkovic is in league's top in assists (4th best: 5.0apg) and averages impressive 2.3spg,55.0% FGP and 41.7% from behind 3-point line.
The second best player in last round's games was another Lovcen's star - young Vasilije Knezevic (202-C-96). Knezevic had a very good evening with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Of course together with Latkovic he helped Lovcen with another comfortable win outscoring the lower-ranked Jedinstvo (#7, 7-10) 98-64. Lovcen's 4th position in the standings has not changed. His team's 10-7 record is not bad at all. Knezevic is one of the most experienced players at Lovcen and similarly like Milos Latkovic has a reputation of one of team's most reliable players.
Third on the list of top players last round was center Boris Jeknic (203-C-89) of Ulcinj (#5). Jeknic showcased his all-around game by recording 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the last round. He was a key player of Ulcinj, leading his team to a 92-83 win against slightly lower-ranked S.Centar (#6, 7-10). Ulcinj needs these victories very badly if they think about getting closer to top teams. Their record at this point is 9 victories and 8 lost games. Jeknic has a very solid season. In 17 games in Montenegro he scored 13.1ppg. He also has 5.7rpg and FGP: 64.2%.
Other top performing players last week: 4. Djoko Salic (213-C-95) of Sutjeska - 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists 5. Milan Latkovic (184-G-86) of Ulcinj - 24 points, 4 rebounds and 9 assists 6. Marko Koljevic (191-G-90) of S.Centar - 32 points and 3 rebounds 7. Nikola Rondovic (207-PF-91) of Ibar Rozaje - 20 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists 8. Marko Ljujic (207-C-90) of Ibar Rozaje - 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists 9. Dejan Bjelic (209-C-90) of Jedinstvo - 18 points and 7 rebounds 10. Dragoje Djokovic (190-G-93) of Ulcinj - 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
The Player of the Week awards are presented by Court Side. Court Side is the global leader in basketball management, and is widely regarded as the most dynamic and innovative company of its kind. It was the first Basketball Agency to launch its own website, and the first to have its own database. Court Side has more agents and manpower within its organization, than any other competitor, and its international network of basketball contacts is still unparalleled.
Buducnost is the new-old winner of Montenegrin Cup. Even though nothing has really changed this time Buducnost could be considered lucky because one shot decided their destiny and this time this shot was in the hands of Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn), Mornar's sharp shooter who missed a wide open shot from a central position to secure a big win for his team. But Buducnost won at the end (72-68). Buducnost started the game much better and opened it with a 20-11 lead in the firs... [read more]
Buducnost is the new-old winner of Montenegrin Cup. Even though nothing has really changed this time Buducnost could be considered lucky because one shot decided their destiny and this time this shot was in the hands of Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn), Mornar's sharp shooter who missed a wide open shot from a central position to secure a big win for his team. But Buducnost won at the end (72-68). Buducnost started the game much better and opened it with a 20-11 lead in the first quarter which was defended by the halftime. However, in the third quarter Mornar played much better, Octavius Ellis (208-C-93, college: Cincinnati) protected the basket and Buducnost's big men got in foul trouble. The last quarter was a very exciting experience for everybody in the gym because Mornar got the lead back and Buducnost's rotation did not bring any results. But in the last few minutes thanks to outstanding performances by Nemanja Gordic (193-PG-88) and Suad Sehovic (197-G/F-87) Buducnost won the game and celebrated another Cup title. Sehovic and Gordic scored 15 points each for the winners and most of these points came in the crucial moments. On the other side former Buducnost's talent Boris Bakic (193-G-86, agency: BeoBasket) scored 17 points.
KK Ibar Rozaje (Erste Liga) signed 25-year old Slovenian guard Stefan Vukovic (196-98kg-92, college: Blue Mountain) after he was tested there shortly. He played recently at KK Splosna plovba Portoroz in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM, but left. In 9 games he had 10.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg and 1.2spg this season. The last season Vukovic played at Studentski Centar Podgorica where in 6 Erste Liga games he recorded 3.5ppg and 2.0rpg. He was named to SSAC All-Academic Team in 2015. Vukovic graduated fr... [read more]
KK Ibar Rozaje (Erste Liga) signed 25-year old Slovenian guard Stefan Vukovic (196-98kg-92, college: Blue Mountain) after he was tested there shortly. He played recently at KK Splosna plovba Portoroz in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM, but left. In 9 games he had 10.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg and 1.2spg this season. The last season Vukovic played at Studentski Centar Podgorica where in 6 Erste Liga games he recorded 3.5ppg and 2.0rpg. He was named to SSAC All-Academic Team in 2015. Vukovic graduated from Blue Mountain College in 2015 and it is his second season as a professional player.
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