By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
When you make a big step, you must be – and you better be – prepared to face and overcome the difficulties of changing level. We can give you dozens of names from Europe who were drafted by NBA teams and made the big step early without considering the fact that in some aspects, the NBA is a whole different ballgame. They thought they were ready for the best league in the world, but that proved an illusion. However the challenge to play in the NBA is huge and in some cases, an offer from an NBA team is more than enough in order to justify the overseas travel.
Bojan Bοgdanovic is not one of those cases. He’s born in Bosnia, grew up in Croatia and started to mature his game in Madrid, after signing with Real. It was hard for him to show his skills immediately in the top Euroleague level and – after a season on loan with Murcia – he left at the age of 20 for his hometown. In the 2010-11 he had a break-out season with Cibona Zagreb and Fenerbahce offered him a contract, just a little before he became the first second round pick of the NBA draft.
After a solid season in Turkey, Nets offered him last summer a three-year contract. However he denied! “I want to play for Zeljko Obradovic and to win something before leaving Europe”, he said some months ago explaining his decision. He had never being coached by Zoc and the idea of being mentored by him was more than tantalizing.
Eurohoops had the chance to meet the 24-yearsold forward after the “game of the decade”, the return of Zoc at OAKA. “Everybody knows who is Zeljko Obradovic and Panathinaikos fans showed what he means for them”, said Bogdanovic about his coach and clarified: “He always tries to keep us focused on our job. The whole atmosphere didn’t effect us”.
Six months after their first meeting, does the Croatian forward feel the same about his decision? “Yes. Zoc was one of the reasons that I decided to stay in Europe. It’s always a pleasure to work with him and I really enjoy it. I hope continue doing it for long”.
Bogdanovic has improved his game a lot, he scores and passes with the same efficiency and he is valuable for his team not only as scoring machine. But the most important “sign” for his upcoming career is his comment to Eurohoops on that: “No. In this Top 6 I don’t play like in the regular season but I promise I’ll improve”. If you stay humble and Zoc guides you, the path to success is wide open, even if the NBA must wait despite him being a free agent this summer…