Do you remember Samir Shaptahovic (174-PG-81)? A lighting fast sharp shooter that played for Primorka in YUBA league and always fought hard on the court? Well, Samir Shaptahovic has been playing for over 10 ten years in Kosovo and helping one of the youngest basketball nations in Europe to make steps forward and try to join the rest of FIBA basketball community. Eurobasket.com did an interview with Samir and asked him about his past in Montenegro but also about his plans for the future.
Hi Samir, do you remember the day when you started playing basketball and is basketball the first sport that you loved?
I have began practicing basketball at the age of 9 in youth teams of Mornar. My first coach was Predrag Vujacic, and then I played in the cadet and junior teams of Mornar, and Vujacic followed me in all these youth categories. We won everything that was on the table in Montenegro. Of course that basketball was my first love and I have loved it since I was a child. My role model back than was Ranko Carapic (185-G-70, agency: Beo Basket), a great point guard.
You were a member of a very talented generation of Primorka, which was an example of how to work with young players. You succeeded in a short time to transform an anonymous club to a YUBA league member where you played in the season 2001/2002 and had excellent statistics (9.0ppg, 1.9rpg, 17ast, 1.8spg). What kind of memories do you have about Primorka and what was the secret of your success?
My generation was among most successful teams at the time- Slobodan Tosic (195-G-80, agency: BeoExcell), Mladen Sekularac (203-G/F-81), Petar Mijovic and others. Soon we all joined the first team of Mornar. For our efforts and work at that time was credited Dragan Bozinov. When I moved to the first team of Mornar, I was still a junior player, and Mihailo Pavicevic gave me a chance. Thats when my career started moving forward. After the fusion between the clubs from Bar (Mornar and Primorka) I joined Primorka. We started from the First Montenegrin league and in 3 seasons came to Yuba League which was a dream come true for every player. Our coach at that time was Milan Rondovic (agency: BBEH Cokrlija ). In YUBA league I had a very difficult competition, because my position was covered by two established names such as Radovan Pesic (186-G-72, agency: Beo Basket) and Gavrilo Pajovic (187-G-71). I've earned my minutes due to my hard work and effort. Primorka name is still in my heart and I remmember all the players and coaches that were a part of that project.
After an excellent season in Primorka how did you decide to move to MEB Prishtina, a team from the newly formed League of Kosovo?
I have moved to MEB Pristina, because I felt at that moment it was time to make a career out of Montenegro. My club Primorka received 30 000 euro as a transfer fee for my move to Pristina, and then definitely began my career ..
In those years Kosovo basketball was in great expansion. Clubs from Kosovo brought big names such as Acie Earl (208-F/C-70, college: Iowa), Jimmal Ball (179-PG-78, agency: ACMT, college: Akron), Goran Kalamiza (189-G-74) etc.. How you got used to the Kosovo league and how the transition influenced on you as a player?
At the time I arrived here basketball in Kosovo was in a large expansion and was accompanied by a very good media coverage and of course financially. Many former NBA players came, big names from Croatia and across Europe of course, and there were a lot of quality coaches from all over the world, and I learned a lot from all of them, especially from Bujar Ljoci from Kosovo Ekrem Menum from Turkey and Rudolf Jugo from Croatia.
In your first season in Kosovo you won the National Championship. In the meantime, you have built up your name in the Top Division in Kosovo and became a symbol of the League. How did Samir Shaptahovic change as a player in the last ten years?
With Pristina I won everything I was offered, from the Cup titles to the national championships. Of course in the last 10 years primarily I was formed as a man, then as a true basketball player who gained the right experience at point guard position.
How good is the current level of Kosovo League and what is the future of Kosovo basketball?
I sincerely hope that very soon Kosovo basketball will join Europe because these people and this country deserve it ..
Peja, your club, is currently first in the league of Kosovo, led by you and Dardan Berisha (193-SG-88, agency: INVICTUS Sports Group) and coach Rudolf Jugo from the bench. What are your ambitions this year? How realistic would be to win the title?
My current club Peja is in the first position in this league, and on my team, I have very prominent names, such as Polish guard Dardan Berisha who will play at the European Championships this summer. The team is coached by one of the best Croatian coaches Rudolf Jugo . The Club's ambitions are clear- march to the national title and cup title but our eternity rival Pristina has the same goal. However I have no doubt that we can win it all this year.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to go back to Montenegro as a player or coach?
My plans are now tied to my ciub Peja but it is certain that I will return one day as a player because my dream is one day to finish my career where I started it long time ago.....
Thanks for the interview Samir. Greetings from Montenegro!
All the best to you and Montenegro be always be a part of my heart!
Acie Earl (208-F/C-70, college: Iowa), former Boston Celtics draft pick and the second player ever, after Jerome James (216-C-75, college: Florida A&M) who signed in Montenegro with NBA experience on his resume, is talking to Eurobasket.com about his NBA experience, ups and downs in Europe and ambitions for the future [read more]
Acie Earl (208-F/C-70, college: Iowa), former Boston Celtics draft pick and the second player ever, after Jerome James (216-C-75, college: Florida A&M) who signed in Montenegro with NBA experience on his resume, is talking to Eurobasket.com about his NBA experience, ups and downs in Europe and ambitions for the future.
Hello Acie, most true basketball fans have heard about you- at the University of Iowa, you were a 3 year starter, Playboy Pre Season All American, Chicago Tribune's Big Ten Player of the Year plus 2nd leading career scorer at Iowa and All Time shot block leader at Iowa. But I would like to hear how did it all start? Have you always considered basketball as your dream job?
As a kid in the 3rd grade I saw Magic Johnson (207-G-59, college: Michigan St.) play on tv and I wanted to play since and I followed the NBA and college on tv growing up, even collecting basketball cards.
I was supposed to go lottery that year but the draft lottery had a lot of underclassmen come out of college as the 1st 7 or 8 picks were underclassmen, if they had not come out then I would have been a lottery pick, so to actually have David Stern say my name was unreal and the walk across the stage and shake his hand a dream come true.
You played 4 years in the NBA with the Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors in the 90s. The 90s were considered the era of Michael Jordan (199-F-63, college: N.Carolina) but also the golden age of big and talented post players. Who was the toughest opponent you have faced in your NBA career?
In January 1998 you moved to France and signed with Racing Paris, a very ambitious club at that time, mostly known now as Tony Parkers first club. How hard for an experienced NBA player like you was the transition from NBA rules and comodity to European game?
However, your overseas career lasted eight years in notable basketball countries such as Spain, Greece, France, Turkey. You won many individual awards such as Turkish League MVP in 2001 and Kosovo League MVP in 2004. Considering your enormous experience could you tell us which league was most competitive and where did you enjoy playing and living?
Australia was fun and good life, France also, Austria truly most interesting . Russia most wild, China so different.. all had such ups and downs , Poland Serbia ect.
The Buducnost team was cool. It was fun to play on such as famous euro league team ,but they were on the downward fall and I was brought in late to help but it was too late, the coach was okay, not great not bad, he felt a lot of pressure and I think they fired him after they then let me go.
Adriatic League is now considered as one of the best leagues in Europe. Back in 2003/2004 how competitive it was and did you like the level?
It was okay then, hard play but a lot of young prospects with Red Star and the other big team in the capital of Serbia. I could see it big now as the players could always dribble, shoot and were big, and also played a very smart floor game.
In August 2004 you suffered a career ending injury (torn Achilles tendon), just a week after you signed with Zadar, another Adriatic League team. How hard it was to quit basketball and what were the alternatives at that time?
It wasn't hard to quit, mentally I was drained, at 32 I was starting to feel it and could see myself retiring. I just was not ready off the court yet, also most of my friends were coaching in the states at college or semi pro, so I thought to do that but really after seeing it close up I didn't want to coach at a high level.
Your basketball program (more info at http://www.venomsportstraining.com) is proven for success. You have been running your own kids camp for 3-12th graders for years in Dubuque, Iowa. and also held individual workouts for past Iowa Hawkeyes who wanted to prolong and start their pro careers such as Glen Worley (203-F-81, college: Iowa), Duez Henderson (201-F-80, college: Iowa) and Jason Price (184-G-77, college: Iowa). What are your plans for your coaching career? Would you like to return to Europe as a coach?
Buducnost is the new champion of Erste Basketball League! Actually, its not a big news in Montenegro knowing that the club from Podgorica won all league titles since the independence in 2006 but this time was a bit harder against a solid Sutjeska. Anyway, the third game was not as tied as the games before (67-51) but Dusan Dubljevic 's guys can not regret because they fought bravely against a much more experienced team [read more]
Buducnost is the new champion of Erste Basketball League! Actually, its not a big news in Montenegro knowing that the club from Podgorica won all league titles since the independence in 2006 but this time was a bit harder against a solid Sutjeska. Anyway, the third game was not as tied as the games before (67-51) but Dusan Dubljevic 's guys can not regret because they fought bravely against a much more experienced team. The game was decided after the first half when Buducnost got a big lead and burried Sutjeska's hopes to make a surprise in Podgorica. A curiosity of the game played tonight is that nobody scored in double digits for the winners but all players besides Danilo Nikolic (205-C-93) scored at least two points which proves that Buducnost has a deep rotation. The top scorers were Gerald Lee (208-C-87, college: ODU) and Vladimir Mihailovic (193-G-90) with 9 points each. On the other side the situation was the same, but the guests scored less points all together and thats was the main difference. The leading scorer was Radoje Vujosevic (209-C-89, agency: Interperformances) with 8 points.
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