Serbia’s national basketball team will be in the hearts of all fans expecting a new medal at the World Cup in China this September. After a few years, for the national team will play crème de la crème of the Serbian basketball, so the appetites of the domestic public have increased significantly.
President of the Basketball Federation of Serbia, Predrag Danilović, himself has won gold medals in almost all competitions as a player. Now as the first man of our basketball, from a completely different angle, speaks for Reminder about the upcoming championship, but also about the fact that basketball is again the number one sport in our country.
Basketball is the number one sport thanks to the World Cup in China this summer. How much of pleasure does it give you as president of the Federation, and how much of an obligation considering the public expectations?
Expectations are always high when the national team plays, especially the men’s team. This summer has been exceptional when it comes to national teams, specifically women, who have achieved great success. Expectations are high for me as a president and the employees of the Federation. It is also a big obligation in terms of work, organization, but the people here in the alliance are already used to it. Although they are obligations, they are pleasing, especially if all that effort is eventually crowned with a positive result.
How difficult was it to gather the best Serbia has for this World Cup? We recently heard that for Bogdanović was paid € 140,000 in compensation.
That is additional compensation. Honestly, what I think doesn’t come in handy when I say it. Players are the ones who decide whether to play or not to play for the national team. Fortunately, they are all good and smart guys.
I think they are now mature enough for one big result, that they have matured as a generation and that their maximum, I hope, will be at the Olympics. It would be a shame if they didn’t all get together and not try to get a good result. Not to be sorry one day for missing a great chance. It’s one thing when you can’t join the team with a reason, and another is when you can’t play due to silly excuses.
Few can influence them, that they play for the national team that’s their choice. Honestly, I know that no one could have influenced me. Everything else is a lie. It’s a great thing that everyone came and everyone responded. I guess the emphasis is on Jokić because Nikola has been unable to play for the past two years because of his contract. Who are we to force someone and judge anyone? He is here this year and I hope he will continue to play for the national team next year.
The Olympics will be the crown of this generation, as well as the graduation work of your first mandate in the Federation.
It has nothing to do with me, I don’t score. As for me, they have the best conditions. That is the role of the Federation. Now, my work, unfortunately, and the work of everyone in the Federation is judged by how many medals you took. Such is the perception, and in fact, the reality is quite different. I can say freely that after several years the Federation is financially stable for the first time, thanks to sponsors, of course.
We have almost all private sponsors except Telekom, which is also the greatest sponsor. Of course, the Government of Serbia is responsible for that, and we should not be cynical about this and that no one should be angry when both the President and the Government are praised.
The main part of preparations for the World Cup was done on Kopaonik. You and the coach Đorđević were with the players every day, so players could get advice at any time from two legends. Do you feel like this team is ready for the big acts?
Sale Đorđević is the selector and he is in direct contact with the players. I’m the president, and if they need anything outside of the sports part, I’m here to help. I’m not a classic president who doesn’t talk to players, but more like a tradesman. I don’t want to be misunderstood, but I’m not someone who goes to national team preparation, so be there with their family and then walk around the mountain and have no contact with players. But, I played 20 years ago, in the last century (laughs). The guys did a great job, they are behaving very well.
Who could be the leader of this team?
The wrong question for me.
To rephrase the question, do you agree that each team needs a master, but also some player who needs to be daring?
I think this team has such players and they are positively daring and leaders. It is one of the very important conditions, as is the team spirit. But it is also as if they sometimes quarrel among themselves, so it is important to be together when it is difficult. I think that’s the quality of our basketball teams.
The question of all questions is this gold medal, to which a huge obstacle like Americans shares, but also great obstacles like Lithuania, Spain, France, Greece, and many more. How to achieve this goal?
Let us be the first in our group, everything afterward would be easier. That’s how I thought, both as a player and as a functionary in Partizan. Making calculations cannot be a good thing. When you play honestly, you play fair, in order to get a medal, you have to beat certain opponents and it’s very simple.
We like to complicate things, but essentially the plan is simple. It’s hard to come to that simplicity, but it’s a recipe. The atmosphere is as if there was gold in China waiting for the Serbs to come for it. But people have no idea how strong teams are and how many NBA players they have. We are guilty of it, basketball is guilty of it. We have spoiled the nation. There is no running away from it, but these things do not affect these guys. They are mature enough and good players to disrupt them. They have a selector who has been in 100 similar situations.
What are your expectations for the trip to China? Do you expect to learn something outside of basketball?
I was in Hong Kong in 2000 for a pre-Olympic tournament. I’m looking forward to China, to me personally this Eastern culture is very interesting and now I have the opportunity to go there. If God would let us come back with a medal.