By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
SIG Strasbourg ended their losing streak in the Basketball Champions League this week. After being beaten by Petrol Olimpija, medi Bayreuth and Movistar Estudiantes respectively they took down Umana Reyer Venezia jumping to a 6-5 record.
The win against Venezia was more than important for the French team. They stayed in the race for the next round of the Basketball Champions League and Croatian big man Miro Bilan stood up with his performance. He finished the game with a strong double-double recording 17 points and 11 boards and taking care of things in the paint.
The Croatian center is a well-known name in European basketball. He was part of Cedevita’s core for six years before signing with Strasbourg.
He moved to Strasbourg last year, on the 19th of October Along with Louis Labeyrie, he created a strong front-court of the French club. He is averaging 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and he is proving that he remains one of the best players in his position around Europe.
However, it wasn’t always easy for this guy.
An odd path to Cedevita
Back in his teen days, he wasn’t sure if he would become a professional basketball player. He started his career in Sibenik, the team of his hometown and soon he had second thoughts about basketball and his career.
It was a difficult time as his team was in big financial troubles. Bilan was thinking about stopping playing basketball and going to college. However, you can’t achieve something big if you quit when things get hard. Bilan knew that. He bet on himself and decided that he will give his best and fight for his place under the basketball sun.
Due to money issues, the older players left the club, so young guys like Bilan got their chance. Miro made the most of it and other teams started to notice him. In 2010 he moved to Zadar despite the interest of Cedevita. Money became an issue in Zadar too, so Bilan spent only one year in the club. He had a three-year contract, but he wasn’t paid on time and he was able to leave.
Cedevita didn’t have success in signing Bilan in their first attempt, but they didn’t give up. After he left Zadar they didn’t wait and this time they were able to bring the big man in Zagreb.
They believe in Bilan and he didn’t betray their trust. During his six years at Cedevita, Miro Bilan became the player with most games and most points in club’s history.
Bilan believes that happy family is a very important for having a good career. His wife and his parents were always there for him and he points that out every time. When he was a kid he practiced very late at night and his parents were always there to drive him and pick him up after the training.
Bilan was always taller than others since he was a kid. It’s in his genes. Both his mother and father are very tall. However, none of them was a professional basketball player. His mother played the basketball but only as an amateur. Bilan’s basketball roots are coming from his cousin Zeljko Jerkov who was a great basketball player.
He played for Jugoplastika Split, Benneton and Scavolini. He was also a member of the Yugoslavia national team. His career was outstanding as he won an Olympic gold medal in Moscow (1980), the World Cup (1978) and three European Championships (1973, 1975, 1977).
Like his cousin, he left his home country. This is Bilan’s first season abroad and his first season playing the Basketball Champions League. His individual performance in the competition is on the highest level. And during the next three weeks, his team needs him to step up like he did in the game against Venezia.
The French side has the chance to qualify for the next round of the Basketball Champions League, but only if their players stay focus and perform at the high level.