The world of basketball needs more people like Dusan Ivkovic in my opinion.
For some reason the first thing I thought about just now, was a leading journalist in England once telling me to never state your own opinion when writing an article, feature or even a blog.
But I think most basketball writers and fans would most certainly agree with me with regards to Ivkovic.
News that the veteran coach would lead Serbia to Lithuania this Summer was met with a lot of respect and admiraton. Not just because he answered Serbia’s desperate plea for help, but he is answering the call to lead the team without being paid.
The new Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) president Dragan Djilas, who is also the mayor of Belgrade, announced that Ivkovic was going to coach Serbia
But the president also said the financially-strapped KSS wouldn’t be able to make good on outstanding payments to the coach.
“I’ve told Mr. Djilas, when he informed me that he’ll be a candidate for KSS’s presidency, that if he really did that – he could count on me,” Ivkovic stated.
“It’s an honor and pleasure for me to lead our national team.
“During my 1992-1995 stint at the helm of our national team, I worked without any payment for that job – and I’ll do the same even now. That will be my modest contribution in these tough times,” Ivkovic continued.
As for the announcement two months ago that the Serb would not be able to coach the national side, Ivkovic said: “I never officially resigned. It wasn’t like ‘I’m quitting’, I was just trying to make something like a wake-up call.”
Ivkovic led Serbia to the runners-up spot in Poland two years ago, where they lost to Spain in Katowice. Not many people expected Serbia to reach the final. 2009 was definitely a rebuilding phase for this young and mainly inexperinced Serbian outfit.
But they proved us wrong, and I include myself in there too.
I watched Serbia defeat Spain in their opening game of EuroBasket 2009 and admittedly I was amongst the many who thought that the win was an upset. To also add that when Serbia beat Great Britain to advance to the second round, Ivkovic said in an after-game press conference that he had survived a tough group and was just thankful to be in the next round. Of course we all know what happened next?
But even in defeat to Spain in the final, Serbian basketball had its power and its name back on the map again.
Whether Serbia will repeat or go one better and win it all in Lithuania remains to be seen. But after 2009, Ivkovic brought the power of Serbian basketball back, and if they do go one better this Summer, it will be known that the volunteer took Serbia to the 2012 Olympic Games.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net
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