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“I will talk with Dirk in June”

By Niki Bakouli/

Svetislav Pesic as a coach is first of all a teacher. He made his name as the creator of the extraordinary junior team of Yugoslavia in the late eighties, since then he won almost everything, including a gold medal in 2002 FIBA world championship and now he has the task to develop the German national team of the future. We met him in Istanbul and he was ready to answer any question, even the topic of the possible return of Dirk Nowitzki to his national team.

- First of all, how are you?

“Very good, especially now I am here, at Euroleague’s Juniors Tournament. I like very much to watch young kids and Red Star is playing. Red Star is my club, my team and I follow all our players, all year long”.

- You see something really… interesting; you want to share with us?

“I don’t want to say names. I was the coach for this famous generation, with Divac, Kukoc, Djordjevic, Radja etc, with players who were born in 1967 and 1968 and I try in this age to compare this one with the 94-95 generation. In that time all these big talents came from all Yugoslavia, not just Serbia. From this generation, every kid was born in Serbia, a country of 8 million people. In Yugoslavia there were 20 million people. So, you see the difference. But, I can say there are some guys now who remind me of those famous players. I can say names, but… I prefer not”.

- What are the three more important things a talented player has to do to become a great player?

“The first one is the selection. This is the most important thing for one young talented player. And it’s very difficult, since now basketball is business. Now you have many parts to care, to have interest of every selection. The clubs, the agents, the media… During my time at Yugoslavia’s’ bench, the opinion of each coach was the most important thing. Now, all the other parts have influence on the decisions. Influence on choosing one player over another one. They decide for the players. I have the feeling the coaches today don’t have enough respect, from all these people who participate in a decision of who is talented, who has the fundamentals and who can be a really great player. And this is a problem. Of course in nowadays, after the evolution of the basketball, we have more talents. It’s normal. But the selection remains the most important thing, together with the competition system. You need a totally different one, because the main goal should be to have one which will help the players to become better. Not one to care only for the results. It’s a fact that one talent who tomorrow will be a player, he needs to know how is it to win a game and to lose a game. He must learn how life is after one failure and after one success. My feeling though, is that now the most important thing is the result and the second one how to improve a player. The third most important thing there is for a young talented guy to become a great player is be patient. The clubs must be patient, the coaches must be patient and of course the players, who don’t have any. They cannot improve themselves in an environment, where nobody has patience. You have one good player who immediately gets a big contract, cause this is what every part wants first after all, he plays for a big club… But without patient you cannot enjoy anything not only in basketball, but in life. And the best things come from being patient”.

- Recently you signed to be the new coach of German national team. And you play at the qualification games for the next European championship…

“And I know exactly the names of the 20 players who are going to be on my team, for this tournament But, I cannot tell you something, before the end of the season, in Germany. Then we are going to announce them”.

- What’s your way to keep on track with them?

“Through the internet, I visit Munich to see my son and watch games of the German league. It’s easy cause you see, we have 3-4 flights from Belgrade to Munich each day and I need one hour to be there”!

- Will Dirk Nowitzki be in the roster?

“Nowitzki needs rest from everything, after the end of the season for Dallas Mavericks. We will have a meeting, if I am in Germany in June, about the possibility of him playing with us, this summer. We talked and we said we will be in touch in June. I will call him and we will meet to discuss, what he needs to do, if he is going to play with the national team or not”.

- You are responsible of building a new team for Germany, right?

“We are trying to have a new team and this is our main goal from this qualification round –other than actually qualify to European Championship. I will have the time to practice and to work every day with some talented players and after the qualification round, I will have a better picture of this new team and the potentials of the German players, for the future”.

- What’s your opinion on having a European Championship every four years instead of every two years?

“I like the fact that FIBA Europe and FIBA started to think about the competition system. I don’t know if it would be better to have European Championships every four year. Actually, I know, I have my opinion, but it’s not my decision. The only thing I can say is it’s very important to have the qualification games during the season, like football. The past 6 or 8 years we have national teams playing only during the summer and I think it’s not good for the fans of every country. And it’s a good time to think about organizing a tournament during the season”.

- But during the season, European teams have so many leagues to play (Euroleague, national leagues, VTB United League, Baltic League, Adriatic League) and… I think there is no time…

“We are in Europe. We are not in America, where the competition system is clear and nobody cares for the national team playing during the season. In Europe it’s really important. The national team competition system is very important for the young people, for the fans, for TV, for the media etc. I am very happy that they start to think about changing the system. If they ask me, I will tell them what I think as the best possible solution. Till then, I fell happy with the intention they show to change things”.

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