By Lefteris Moutis/ email@example.com
Imagine that you are one of the most famous coaches in your country.Not so long ago you won a continental title and soon enough your country will host the next big international competition for the first time. Whoever has the chance to speak with Memi Becirovic these days can also imagine one thing: that being the head coach of the Slovenian national team in the upcoming Eurobasket would be a “dream job” for him.
But NO! The Slovenian coach spoke to Eurohoops after winning the title with Iran in FIBA Asia championship and surprised everyone. “No! I wouldn’t like to coach now the Slovenian NT. There is a big pressure to succeed because you play in your country and it’s normal to have good results. But if not, you must leave your country! I’ve been once the coach and I know that” said Becirovic laughing… “Apart from that, I’m waiting an interesting tournament in Slovenia. There are 7-8 teams (Spain, Greece, Slovenia, France, Turkey, Russia, Lithuania, Serbia) that can win the European championship and of course you can’t underestimate teams like Montenegro, FYROM or Poland”.
After the Asian Cup, a year ago, the experienced coach also won the Asian championship confirming that Iran is the most successful team in the continent the last years. “In the beginning it was harder for me to understand their style of basketball, teach them how to play and organize more the defensive part of the game. The Asians play quickly but don’t pay attention to the defense, something weird for the Europeans. But through the practices and the repetition, after 4-5 months, everything went well” said the 52 year-old coach about his adaption in Asia.
Iran has won three of the last four Asian championships but the only win lately in World Championships or Olympic Games was against Tunisia back in 2010 in Turkey. “Of course our target is to minimise the gap between us and the teams from Europe and America beginning with Spain’s World Cup. But first of all, I have to renew my contract with the federation of Iran. We‘ll talk soon and I hope to stay. I have to say that the level of basketball knowledge is high. I believe until the end of the decade, the Asian teams will have the chances to go far in every international competition”.
What is missing from Iran and every other Asian team? “The tactical thought” answers Becirovic adding that “they have the potential to succeed and I think that the work of the European and Americans coaches all these years will be evident soon. Asia and specially Iran is a good market. There is a lot of money in comparison with Europe (where only top clubs spend plenty of money) and I think the Asian players must come to Europe, live the basketball experience here for one or two years and then travel back better and wiser. For example, Ping Shang signed with Panathinaikos and it’s a good move for everyone”.
His son, Sani Becirovic, after his season with Petrochimi came back to Iran by signing with Fooland Mahan. What did Memi say to his son and to every other player who could ask his opinion about Iran? “I told him to come! It’s a good league and offers a lot of money to top level players. It’s a very good choice”.