Coach Mladen Ostojic , born and raised in Bosnia, has been living in Herceg Novi, Montenegro for 18 years. Eurobasket.com took the opportunity to interview the former memebr of Bosna golden generation and ask him about his career and plans for the future.
Mr. Ostojic, could you tell us something about your playing career during the 70's and good moments in Bosna?
During the late 80-s and early 90-ies you coached a number of teams from all over the former state (Bosnia, Sutjeska, Rudar, Borac etc). How satisfied are you with the results in this period and how would you rate the quality of the then-league compared to what we have the opportunity to watch today in the former Yugoslavia?
I went in 1986 to the USA to improve my coaching abilities and learn and next year I got the opportunity to lead the senior team of Bosna.In these years, basketball was the number one sport in Yugoslavia thanks to strong organization and a number of top coaches. We, younger ones, were able to learn from them . The leagues were were interesting at all levels, the youngsters worked hard in their clubs and had the chance to play a lot, and there were no transfers from one club to the other every two months, unlike today when 15 and 16 year old players are just thinking about the material side of sport.
After the outbreak of the war in the former Yugoslavia you went to Greece and started working as an assistant coach at Panionios and then as head coach of Olimpiakos Volos in Division II. How did you make the decision to continue your career in Greece and how did you deal with the language barrier and other challenges that you faced abroad?
Yes, when the war started I went to Greece. My knowledge of English and quick learning of Greek helped me to adapt to work abroad.
After completion of the episode in Greece in the season 1996/1997 you returned to Yugoslavia and accepted to coach Herceg Novi, which then competed in the Yugoslav Second League. In Herceg Novi you spent the next two seasons. What do you remember about that period in your career and how good was the roster of that team?
When I returned from Greece in 1996 with my family I moved to Herceg Novi, where even now we live.Te two seasons have been successful, in a strong second division we avoided relegation and had a full hall every night. We were led by local boys Dusan Sucevic (204-F-61) and Dejan Jevtic but we also had many oung players from the region.
In the first decade of 21st century follows the most successful part of your career. You worked in Olympiakos as an assistant coach, and then run independently Israeli Premiership club Maccabi Ramat Gan and Shangdong from China. Could you tell us what is needed to prove yourself as a coach abroad and how much is difficult to survive on that level?
Since 1998 I have been permanently employed abroad. Knowledge of English is the most important for rapid adaptation to the conditions of life in foreign countries.It helped me a lot through the 1999-2000 season at Maccabi Haifa when we were considered as a team for the relegation place and we won the 4th place. The federation awarded me as the best foreign coach along with the famous coach of Maccabi Pini Gershon . As a foreign coach, you're always the most responsible for bad results, but with a lot of work and a little luck you can survive.
You also worked in Arab countries. How important was that experience for you?
Yes, I have worked in the Gulf countries twice, tI was the UAE National Team head coach in 2008 and in 2011-12 I worked in Saudi Arabia, Itihad. Its a very specific job coaching there, the players are not professionals and they practice once a day, but have great conditions and facilities. I also need to mention that UAE was not my only experience as National Team head coach. Last summer I was hired to help the National Team of Romania. It was a new experience and against strong competition we failed to qualify for the European Championship, but I am pleased with our performances and with a little more luck we could have won more, Problem of Romanian basketball is a large number of foreigners (7 in each team) , local players have little chance to play, and therefore the national team lacks quality.
Herceg Novi is a city in which you live today. Try to assess the state of Herceg Novi's basketball and basketball in general in Montenegro? Do you follow the domestic league?
I follow the league appearances of Primorje. Basketball in Herceg Novi is not in a great situation, finances are an issue, so the club needs to count on the young players, and this does not have to be bad. Generally the problem in Montenegro is the lack of competitive teams. With at least 2 or 3 more the domestic championship would be interesting. On the other hand, we have a strong national team and I wish them success on the European Championship in Slovenia next summer. Money should be invested in the education of young coaches (seminars, USA experience). There is still a lot of talent in this area and we do not need to worry about the future.
What are your plans for the future? Is there a possibility to continue your career at Erste basketball league?
I do not have a job at the moment. Since I have been a resident of Montenegro for about 18 years it would be my pleasure to work here.
Thank you for this interview. Eurobasket.com and myself wish you a lot of success in your career
Milko Bjelica selected the top Montenegrin playing abroad in last week's games - 12 hours ago
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Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Montenegrins who are currently playing abroad. This week's number one is an experienced former international power forward Milko Bjelica (207-84, agency: BeoBasket). He led Crvena Zvezda to a victory over the league outsider Spartak in the Serbian KLS in Friday night's game.
Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Montenegrins who are currently playing abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an experienced former international power forward Milko Bjelica (207-84, agency: BeoBasket, currently plays in Serbia). He led Crvena Zvezda to a victory over the league outsider Spartak (0-2) crushing them 89-54 in the Serbian KLS in Friday night's game.
Bjelica was MVP of the game. He recorded 21 points in a mere 18 minutes on the court.
Crvena Zvezda MTS Beograd (2-0) is placed first in the KLS.
But this is still an early stage of the season and everything may happen.
Bjelica has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 16.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 2FGP: 84.6%, 3FGP: 66.7% and FT: 71.4% in two games he played so far.
Bjelica has a dual citizenship: Montenegrin and Serbian.
He played for the Montenegrin senior national team three years ago.
#2. Second place goes to former international point guard Tyrese Rice (185-87, college: Boston Coll., currently plays in Spain). Rice was the major contributor in a FC Barcelona's victory against the closely-ranked Unicaja Malaga (18-10) 89-70 in the Spanish Liga Endesa last Sunday.
He scored 17 points and added 3 passes.
FC Barcelona Lassa (19-9) is placed fifth in the Liga Endesa.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game will be critical.
It's Rice's first season with the team.
Rice has relatively good stats this year: 12.1ppg, 1.5rpg, 3.4apg, 2FGP: 51.2%, 3FGP: 31.0%.
He is a naturalized American.
Rice played for the Montenegrin national team in 2014.
Strangely he has never played in Montenegro.
#3. The Montenegrin player who performed third best last week abroad was an international forward Marko Todorovic (209-92, currently plays in VTB United League). Todorovic contributed to an easy victory against the sixth-ranked Enisey (13-11) crushing them 104-64 in the VTB United League on Sunday night.
He scored 15 points, had 6 rebounds and made 3 blocks in 23 minutes.
BC Khimki Moscow Region (19-5) is placed third in group A.
There are only three games left until the end of the VTB United League Regular Season. So now every game is very crucial.
This year Todorovic has relatively solid stats: 10.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.9apg, 2FGP: 70.5%(93-132) and FT: 56.2% in 23 games.
He is also a member of the Montenegrin senior national team.
#4. Power forward Bojan Dubljevic (205-91, also represented by BeoBasket, currently plays in Spain) contributed to a Valencia Basket's victory against one of league's weakest teams Sevilla (8-20) 90-85 in the Spanish Liga Endesa in Saturday night's game.
Dubljevic scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Valencia Basket (21-7) is placed first in the Liga Endesa.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game will be important.
Dubljevic is one of the most experienced players in a team as it's his fourth year in Valencia Basket's roster.
He has reliable stats this season: 12.3ppg, 5.5rpg and 1.9apg.
Dubljevic is also Montenegrin national team player.
#5. International power forward Nemanja Djurisic (203-92, college: Georgia, currently plays in Poland) could not help Stelmet (23-8) in their last game. Despite his very good performance Stelmet lost 85-90 on the road to the lower-ranked (#3) BM Slam Stal.
Djurisic was the top scorer with 18 points in 27 minutes; quite an impressive performance considering it's only his second season in pro basketball. Djurisic's team will play only one more game in the Regular Season. And now that game is quite important.
Djurisic's stats this year are: 11.4ppg and 4.8rpg in 26 games.
He plays currently for the Montenegrin national team.
#6. Swingman Nikola Zizic (197-94, currently plays in Serbia) helped FMP win their game against the closely-ranked Mega Leks (1-1) crushing them 90-70 in the Serbian KLS on Sunday night.
Zizic recorded 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. FMP Beograd (2-0) is placed second in the KLS.
But the season just started, so everything may happen.
Zizic's overall stats this year are: 9.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.5apg and 1.5spg.
He is a former international player as he played for the Montenegrin senior team two years ago.
#7. Former University international center Mihailo Sekulovic (206-91, currently plays in Bulgaria) was not able to help one of league's weakest teams Balkan (14-10) in their last game. Despite Sekulovic's very good performance Balkan was edged 81-79 in Samokov by the higher-ranked (#4) Rilski.
He was the top scorer with 23 points. Sekulovic also added 8 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Sekulovic has very impressive stats this year: 17.1ppg, 9.2rpg and 2.1apg in 25 games.
He used to play for the Montenegrin university national team
two years ago.
#8. Forward Halil Kanacevic (203-91, college: St.Joseph's, currently plays in Israel) was not able to secure a victory for Bnei Hasharon (16-13) in their last game on Thursday. Despite Kanacevic's good performance Bnei Hasharon was defeated 79-71 in Eilat by the leading Hapoel.
He was the second best scorer with 13 points. Kanacevic also added 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season.
Kanacevic's overall stats this season are: 7.8ppg, 5.3rpg and 2.7apg.
He is a naturalized American.
Kanacevic used to play for the Montenegrin U20 national team
back in 2011. Apparently he has never played in Montenegro.
#9. Former international power forward Radosav Spasojevic (204-92, another player represented by BeoBasket, currently plays in Serbia) helped Mega Leks edge the closely-ranked Borac (1-1) 77-75 in the Serbian KLS last Wednesday.
He scored 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 29 minutes.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. BC Mega Leks (1-1) is placed fourth in the KLS.
But the season is still in it's first stage and everything can happen.
This year Spasojevic's overall stats are: 8.5ppg and 2.5rpg in two games.
He used to play for the Montenegrin national team
two years ago.
#10. Power forward Vladimir Dragicevic (206-86, currently plays in Poland) is a teammate of previously mentioned Nemanja Djurisic and both played together in the last Polish PLK game.
Dragicevic couldn't help Stelmet (23-8) in their last game on Saturday. Despite his good performance Stelmet was defeated 90-85 in Ostrow Wlkp. by the lower-ranked BM Slam Stal (#3).
Dragicevic scored 10 points.
Dragicevic averaged so far 12.3ppg, 5.9rpg and 1.3apg.
He is a former international player as three years ago he still played for the Montenegrin senior national team.
#11. Former U18 international guard Amin Hott (192-92, currently plays in Bulgaria) is a teammate of previously mentioned Mihailo Sekulovic. But that was another game of his team in Bulgarian NBL which we would like to mention.
Hott helped Balkan win their game against the closely-ranked Beroe 79-64.
He scored 11 points, had 6 rebounds and dished 8 assists in 37 minutes.
Hott averaged so far 11.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 5.6apg and 1.6spg in 25 games.
He used to play for the Montenegrin U18 national team
seven years ago.
#12. Former international point guard Taylor Rochestie (185-85, college: Washington St., currently plays in VTB United League) helped his Russian team Lokomotiv win their game against the 12th-ranked Tsmoki-Minsk 81-72 in the VTB United League last Sunday.
Rochestie scored 8 points and added 4 passes.
Rochestie averaged so far 11.2ppg, 1.8rpg and 4.1apg.
He is a naturalized American.
Rochestie used to play for the Montenegrin national team
back in 2014. Interesting that he has never played in Montenegro.
#13. Former international shooting guard Ivan Jelenic (192-85, currently plays in Serbia) couldn't help Spartak in their game against Dynamic BG in the Serbian KLS, despite his very good performance on Wednesday night.
Jelenic scored 13 points and added 3 passes in 27 minutes.
But his team was badly defeated by 17 points 92-75.
Jelenic averaged so far 11.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg and 1.7spg in six games.
He used to play for the Montenegrin national team
five years ago.
#14. Former U21 international point guard Goran Martinic (187-87, currently plays in Romania) couldn't help Targu Mures in their game against CSU Sibiu in the Romanian Liga Nationala. Despite his very good performance in Tuesday night's game Martinic was the top scorer with 25 points. He also added made 3 passes and 3 steals.
This season Martinic has very high stats. He averages: 18.1ppg, 3.0rpg, 7.1apg and 2.1spg.
Martinic used to play for the Montenegrin U21 national team
back in 2007.
#15. International point guard Nikola Ivanovic (190-94, currently plays in Italy) couldn't help Betaland Cdo in their game against Scandone AV in the Italian Serie A, despite his good performance last Sunday.
He recorded 10 points and added 3 passes in 33 minutes.
But his team lost 68-76.
Ivanovic averaged so far 12.1ppg, 2.8rpg and 2.8apg in 13 games.
He is also in the roster of the Montenegrin national team.
The list of other players, who all have Montenegrin passport but never been selected to any of Montenegrin national teams:
#1.Nikola Mirotic (207-F/C-91, currently plays in NBA) could not help the Chicago Bulls (41-41) in their last game. Despite Mirotic's good performance the Chicago Bulls (41-41) lost 95-104 on the road to the Boston Celtics.
He was the second best scorer with 13 points. Mirotic also added 7 rebounds in 34 minutes.
Mirotic averaged so far 10.5ppg, 5.5rpg and 1.1apg in 75 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Montenegrin and Spanish.
#2.Stevan Milosevic (211-C-85, agency: Interperformances, currently plays in Slovenia) led Un.Olimpija to a 1-point victory against the fourth-ranked Zlatorog (4-5) 88-87 in the Slovenian Liga Nova KBM in Wednesday night's game.
Milosevic scored 14 points and blocked 4 blocks.
Union Olimpija Ljubljana (4-5) is placed third in Places 1-6 group.
His team will play only one more game in the Second Stage.
Milosevic's overall stats this season are: 5.7ppg, 4.1rpg and 1.1apg.
#3.Mensud Julevic (200-PF-85, currently plays in Slovenia) was the major contributor in a Terme Olimia's victory against the fifth-ranked LTH Castings (5-14) crushing them 82-52 in the Slovenian Liga Nova KBM in Wednesday night's game.
Julevic scored 15 points, had 7 rebounds and dished 4 assists in 26 minutes.
Terme Olimia Podcetrtek (10-9) is placed fourth in Places 7-12 group.
His team will play only one more game in the Second Stage.
Julevic averaged so far 11.1ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.5apg and 1.3spg in 31 games.
He is another player who holds two passports: Montenegrin and Slovenian.
Despite Julevic's Montenegrin nationality, he previously played for the Slovenian U21 national team and is probably not eligible to play for the Montenegrin team.
#4.Nikola Dragovic (206-F-87, agency: BeoBasket, college: UCLA, currently plays in France) managed to help ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket to win against the league outsider Sluc Nancy (7-22) 85-77 in the French ProA in Tuesday night's game.
Dragovic scored 5 points.
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (15-14) is placed ninth in the ProA.
Dragovic's total stats this season are: 7.9ppg, 4.3rpg and 1.1apg.
He has both Serbian and Montenegrin nationalities.
#5. Experienced Boris Lalovic (207-C-81, currently plays in Romania) led CSU Sibiu to a 2-point victory against the leader Targu Mures (12-12) 89-87 in the Romanian Liga Nationala last Thursday.
Lalovic scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds (went 8 for 8 at the free throw line).
It was the game of the round between two top 3 ranked teams in group Places 1-6. CSU Atlassib Sibiu (18-10) is placed second.
Lalovic averaged so far 10.6ppg, 3.6rpg and 1.3apg.
#6.Nemanja Calasan (204-C-85, agency: HMS, college: Purdue, currently plays in Switzerland) led Boncourt to a victory over the fourth-ranked Massagno 90-75 in the Swiss LNA on Saturday night.
He was the best player in that game. Calasan recorded a double-double by scoring 17 points and getting 18 rebounds. He also added 3 assists.
Calasan averaged so far 13.4ppg, 12.5rpg and 2.0apg.
He also holds two passports: Serbian and Montenegrin.
#7.Vladimir Tomasevic (201-F-92, currently plays in Spain) was not able to help Gandia (8-22) in their last game on Saturday. Despite Tomasevic's very good performance the bottom-ranked Gandia was crushed 82-59 in Amorebieta-Echano by the much higher-ranked Zornotza (#6).
He was the top scorer with 22 points. Tomasevic also added 7 rebounds (went 5 for 5 at the free throw line).
Tomasevic averaged so far 10.7ppg and 4.3rpg.
#8.Brion Rush (186-PG-84, agency: Three Eye Sports, college: Grambling St., currently plays in France) faced previously mentioned Nikola Dragovic in the French ProA last game.
Rush was not able to secure a victory for Sluc Nancy in their game against ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket.
He scored 5 points.
His team was defeated 85-77.
Rush has individually a very good season with high stats. He averages: 15.3ppg, 3.3rpg and 3.9apg.
Rush is a naturalized American.
He used to play for KK Sutjeska Niksic in Montenegrin league.
#9.Mikaile Tmusic (188-G-93, currently plays in Kosovo) contributed to Bashkimi's victory against the closely-ranked Peja 92-81 in the Kosovan SuperLeague on Wednesday night.
Tmusic recorded 8 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in only 14 minutes.
This year Tmusic's total stats are: 9.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.8apg and 1.2spg in 24 games.
He has Montenegrin and Kosovan nationalities.
#10.Nikola Rakocevic (191-G-91, agency: Dynamics Global Management, currently plays in Spain) couldn't help Caceres Basket (13-20) in their last game on Friday. Despite Rakocevic's good performance Caceres Basket was defeated 79-71 on the opponent's court by the higher-ranked Burgos (#10).
He scored 10 points and added 4 assists.
This season Rakocevic has very high stats. He averages: 15.1ppg, 2.2rpg and 2.0apg.
Everybody expected an interesting series between two old rivals and here it is. Buducnost and Mornar are tied at 1-1 after the last night's win of Mornar in Bar (73-62). Mornar started the game great and the result after first quarter says it all (21-8). Buducnost cut the deficit in the second quarter but Mornar still had the lead and kept it until the end without struggling to much against the powerhouse from Podgorica. Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn) had a great shooting nigh... [read more]
Everybody expected an interesting series between two old rivals and here it is. Buducnost and Mornar are tied at 1-1 after the last night's win of Mornar in Bar (73-62). Mornar started the game great and the result after first quarter says it all (21-8). Buducnost cut the deficit in the second quarter but Mornar still had the lead and kept it until the end without struggling to much against the powerhouse from Podgorica. Antabia Waller (191-G-88, college: Auburn) had a great shooting night and scored 22 points for the winners. He was followed by his fellow Americans- Octavius Ellis (208-C-93, college: Cincinnati) and Lamont Jones (183-PG-90, college: Iona, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) who scored 16 points each. On the other side only J.R. Reynolds (188-G-84, college: Virginia, agency: Inception Sports), who scored 13 points, played according to his standards. Other Buducnost players will need to play much better in the next game on Thursday in Podgorica if they want to keep the title at home.
The finals have started in Montenegro and its already 1-0 for Buducnost. Tonight the team from Podgorica played much better than in the semifinals and got a deserved win (78-64). The game did not start easy for Buducnost as Mornar had the lead in first quarter but Buducnost stayed close and by halftime increased the lead to +5. The third quarter was decisive and Buducnost got a double digit lead. However, in last quarter Mornar bounced back and made the game close again but due to foul tr... [read more]
The finals have started in Montenegro and its already 1-0 for Buducnost. Tonight the team from Podgorica played much better than in the semifinals and got a deserved win (78-64). The game did not start easy for Buducnost as Mornar had the lead in first quarter but Buducnost stayed close and by halftime increased the lead to +5. The third quarter was decisive and Buducnost got a double digit lead. However, in last quarter Mornar bounced back and made the game close again but due to foul trouble was not able to take back the lead. The final score is not a good indication of what happened tonight in Podgorica but in any case better team won. Experienced foriegners Nemanja Gordic (193-PG-88) (14 points) and Boris Savovic (208-F-87, agency: BeoBasket) (13 points) led the home team to the opening win. On the other side Lamont Jones (183-PG-90, college: Iona, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov), who scored 20 points, was the only one to score in double digits.
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