Reporting from Istanbul: Nikos Varlas/ varlas@Eurohoops.net
It’s a much-anticipated game, the first chance for Slovenia to gain gold and the first chance of Serbia to be back on the Eurobasket top after 2001.
In the same city, Istanbul, Serbia and Montenegro which were still playing under the name “Yugoslavia” prevailed 16 years ago. And now Kokoskov must beat them, starting with the ways to stop Bogdan Bogdanovic and Boban Marjanovic, the two stars of the Serbian team.
“Serbia is playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of courage, a lot of energy”, said Kokoskov. “They know how to play and obviously, those two guys are the key guys, but we can’t be just focused on them. Bogdan is the guy who can play the pick-and-roll, he is great in isolation and he is willing to make a pass. And that’s what makes those two guys great and unique. They have the ability to score and the ability and will to pass. Obviously, they are the top talent, they are the NBA players, but we have to regard them like a team”.
The Serbian coach is a longtime assistant in the NBA, but he has the chance to sign with Panathinaikos back in 2015 and start his head coaching career at the European club level back in the summer of 2015. Ironically, the coach hired by the Greek club was his opponent in the final, the current head coach of the Serbian national team Aleksander Djordjevic.
“I have a lot of respect for Greek basketball and basketball institutions like Panathinaikos and Olympiacos“, explains Kokoskov. “It was a privilege for me that I was in consideration to take this job. At that moment I had commitments with Utah Jazz. It was a verbal commitment but that was as good as a contract, Ι promised Quin Snyder. And I felt bad about it because that might have been a lifetime opportunity. It would have been a dream come true. So many great coaches have been part of Panathinaikos. Who knows? Life is open and everything can happen”.
(Photo credit: FIBA.basketball)