Qualifying for World Cup of utmost importance for Serbia, we are in contact with Crvena Zvezda

The Secretary General of the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS), Dejan Tomasevic states that qualification for the 2019 FIBA World Cup is top of the priority list.

Serbia begin their road to China on November at the end of the month with games against Austria and Georgia in Belgrade. Tomasevic is hopeful for the national spotlight to be shining bright but he is also hopeful of EuroLeague side Crvena Zvezda to be part of the occasion, as well.

Tomasevic, a three-time EuroBasket champion, two-time Basketball World Cup winner and Olympic silver-medalist spoke to Serbian media zurnal.rs about what he expects for and from Serbia during the World Cup qualifiers.

The start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European qualifiers is just a couple of weeks away now. What are your feelings heading into this period?
This is a very important moment. We as a federation, and as a country, want to be at the World Cup that is going to serve as qualification for the Olympic Games. Therefore we are approaching these windows very seriously and in order to succeed we need to have the best players. We want to count on all the best and we would love to have players from EuroLeague.

From your special position – as a former player turned high-ranking official of your country’s national basketball federation – can you explain to us the value of these qualifiers?
They are important for many reasons. First of all, we need to be at the World Cup to fight for the Olympics. Also, after a long time, it is very important for us to have the national team playing against tough opponents in our country. That is important for Serbian basketball. During the summer, national team games draw huge interest from the media and the fans, but now imagine how big it will be when the games are also played in Serbia.

Those weeks (the windows during which the Qualifiers are played) will be important for everyone and the national team will in the spotlight. All of this should be so positive, but unfortunately there is a huge problem right now, because EuroLeague does not want to change the dates of their games. As a former player, I really hope that a compromise can be reached and all of the players can represent their country.

What about the interests of the players, are they being taken into consideration in all of this?
I have talked with a couple of players. The one thing we, as a federation, will never do is put players in a situation where they have to choose between club and country. We must protect them and, right now, I think no one is thinking about them enough. It is clear that there is room for this problem to be solved and hope it’s going to happen.

Is anything being done right now to address the situation at all?
I know that people from FIBA are doing their best to solve the problem, we have been in meetings in Geneva. It is good that all of the federations showed unity. We all came to a conclusion that no one would be happy if only their own national team had all available players. Each federation made an obligation to insist the clubs allow all players to go to their national teams, not only from their country.

Serbia also has one team in EuroLeague. What is the status of Crvena Zvezda right now on this question?
We are in contact with people from Crvena Zvezda, talking about this subject every day. It is not that simple. I think some other clubs from EuroLeague need to make a move first, clubs that can make big decisions. I’m sure that Crvena Zvezda could react then as well.