During his illustrious coaching career, Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic has been used to winning but next week’s opportunity at the EuroLeague Final Four to win a possible tenth title could be the most memorable.
That’s not because of the number of EuroLeague titles that he has captured in a coaching career, spanning nearly three decades, but the mere location.
Belgrade is one of world basketball’s metropolises. The capital of the sport’s European powerhouse, Serbia. It’s also the homeland of the 58-year-old Obradovic, who will lead reigning EuroLeague champions Fenerbahce into battle on May 18, when they face Zalgiris in the semi-finals.
“I’m very happy that I will be in Belgrade,” Obradovic told Greek outlet Eurohoops.
“This is my country and I am almost 25 years out of my country working all over Europe, first in Spain, Italy, Greece than Turkey and to be in my country is something very special for me and this Final Four will be something really special for me.”
Already the winningest coach in the EuroLeague, Obradovic now has the chance to overtake Real Madrid and become the first man or team to reach ten EuroLeague crowns. This season’s journey has been slightly tougher than in previous years, especially with the losses of last year’s Final Four Ekpe Udoh and Serbian wizard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who both went to the NBA.
But the veteran playcaller has done things his way and this is the reward.
“The key point was to understand that Ekpe Udoh and Bogdan Bogdanovic left for the NBA, other players left and we signed five new players and right now we are happy because all our moves were correct,” he said.
It also turns out that one of Obradovic’s leavers from last season’s championship-winning team will be present in Belgrade as Udoh, who has struggled for the time that he got last season will be present alongside NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell says he's going to go to the Euroleague Final Four with Ekpe Udoh, but then will be doing tons of training – both with Jazz players and assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, as well as other NBA greats who want to train.
— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) May 9, 2018