Ognjen Dobric says this may be “the best Crvena Zvezda in the last 10 years”

2023-10-20T09:30:44+00:00 2023-10-20T12:49:44+00:00.

Cesare Milanti

20/Oct/23 09:30


The 29-year-old Serbian small forward spoke to Eurohoops ahead of an emotional night against Crvena Zvezda

By Cesare Milanti / info@eurohoops.net

BOLOGNA, Italy – Being for so many years with a team and adjusting to a new place from Sunday to Monday isn’t the easiest of tasks, especially if you come into a new environment injured. But that didn’t bother Ognjen Dobric, who has been starting his new adventure with Virtus Bologna in a good mood.

Leaving Crvena Zvezda after being with the red-and-white Serbian powerhouse since 2012 – playing three seasons on loan to FMP Belgrade -, tonight he will face his beloved club for the first time since moving away from Serbia in the summer of 2023.

Talking to Eurohoops ahead of such an emotional night, the 29-year-old small forward touched on several topics, including a bitter ending in the Philippines with the Serbian national team.

New life in the Serbian black-and-white side of Bologna

Starting a new basketball life may look difficult, but Bologna gives you all the tools to be comfortable within its ancient walls. “It’s my first club abroad, the first club besides Crvena Zvezda. People here in Bologna accepted me really well, whether in the club or around the club, the fans and everybody else. I really like it here, how they love basketball, how they think about the sport. Everything about it here is crazy”, he first said to Eurohoops.

“You can see from the first day that the whole city loves basketball, and in my eyes, it’s a really important thing because it makes the job easier for us”, Dobric added before touching on his new leader on Virtus Bologna’s bench. “Coach Luca [Banchi] and I have a really good relationship right now and I hope we’re gonna keep it until the end of the season”, the Serbian small forward also commented.

Coming off two straight victories in the EuroLeague Regular Season – beating AS Monaco on the road and ALBA Berlin at home -, the Italian team stands at a 2-1 record after losing in Round 1 against Zalgiris Kaunas, in what came out as Ognjen Dobric’s debut with this team.

On that occasion, he provided a losing effort of 12 points coming off the bench, trying to help with 2 steals, 3/5 from two, and 2/4 from three. Despite a good moment of shape, he believes they can make a significant step up. “We’re having good results, we only had one loss against Zalgiris Kaunas on our court. We can be even better”, Dobric admitted.

“There are details in which we can improve because the game is a live thing and a lot of mistakes happen throughout it. When you cut those mistakes and you make yourself better through practice, the whole team improves. We’re trying to do it. You have to have that mentality if you want to improve”, the former Crvena Zvezda player also commented.

Being only the last Serbian to be able to rock this jersey following legendary names like Sasha Danilovic, Stefan Markovic, and Milos Teodosic, he had recommendations from his countrymen. “I talked with Milos [Teodosic] and Stefan [Markovic], and they explained to me how things work here and how people here love basketball. They helped me a lot getting used to the city: where I should live, the best restaurants I should visit here”, he joked with a big smile on his face.

His past and present, from Zvezda to the national team

Not having the opportunity to debut straight away with Virtus Bologna, Ognjen Dobric was still dealing with the recovery from the ankle injury he suffered right at the beginning of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Final against Germany, where he couldn’t help his team. “Honestly, I was satisfied with what I did individually during the World Cup, but I wasn’t with the result. I got injured in the second minute of the final against Germany, so I couldn’t help my team”, he first admitted.

Describing Aleksa Avramovic as the “hero of our team, of our nation”, saying he “really stepped up in those important games”, the former Crvena Zvezda player gave back the compliments he received from Partizan Belgrade’s playmaker, who praised him after averaging 8.4 points per game with 64.5% from two-point range for the Serbian national team.

However, he missed the most important of games. “I was crying for two or three days, I couldn’t handle it. It was a really tough moment for me, just because I knew I couldn’t help the team. I don’t know if anything would have changed with me on the court, but been through everything, facing tough moments during those two weeks like Borisa [Simanic]’s injury, getting to the final and being injured straight away… I was devastated and disappointed”, Virtus Bologna’s number 13 confessed.

Finally, the new Italian team’s player touched on the upcoming clash against his beloved club, bringing up some moments from his long-time experience on the red-and-white side of Belgrade, the one he grew up with. “Lots of good memories, I can’t say one thing particularly. The most important is the ABA League win two years ago against Partizan Belgrade: it was really emotional for me”, he said pointing out his favorite victory rocking Crvena Zvezda’s jersey.

This game will also represent Milos Teodosic’s return to Bologna after playing four years with Virtus, winning the 2022 EuroCup and leaving excellent memories to his fans in Basket City.

Averaging 7.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game over his first-ever three appearances with Crvena Zvezda in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, the 36-year-old magician can be even better for his new team. “You know what kind of player Milos [Teodosic] is, and he needs room, space, and time to connect with the team. You know how good a creator and playmaker he is, they just need to work together so they can become even better. He’s the kind of player that makes the others so much better”, Ognjen Dobric said about his legendary compatriotic.

Playing against the Serbian powerhouse and not for it will be strange for the small forward, who will still remain a fan. An exciting one, reading his words over this new roster. “Honestly, Zvezda on paper is really really good. Maybe even the best team in ten years. They’re not playing as well as they should, they can be much better than right now”, he first commented on Dusko Ivanovic’s team.

Being 1-2 in the standings following their loss against Mike James’ AS Monaco, they can improve throughout the season. Ognjen Dobric is fully convinced about it. “They’re not on their highest level, I don’t know what’s the problem. When they get to the level they should play on, Zvezda will be a much better team and a Top-8 contender. They have quality on paper, but they need to prove it on the court. And I think they will”, the former Crvena Zvezda player said about his beloved club.


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Un post condiviso da Ognjen Dobrić (@ognjen.dobric)