Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 24, 2013
bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge
Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
No better competition
Hello, everyone. It is a pleasure to be writing this blog on my return to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. It is a fantastic feeling coming back to the best competition in Europe, especially because it is my last year of active playing.
I wanted the story to end like it started, with the Euroleague. As far as I'm concerned, it's a privilege that I am given a chance to do just that. At my age, it does not matter if I will play 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 30 minutes, it is only important to be a part of the elite club competition and to say farewell to playing basketball at its highest level. That was privately my wish at the end of last season, it is how I was thinking when my teammates and I won the Croatian League title last year. Actually, I did consider retiring but decided to stick around for another year and to go on this trip one more time. I had everything during my career, big ups and downs, crying and celebrating, and this is my chance to sum it all up.
It is impossible not to remember my first Euroleague games, back in fall of 1994. As a 20-year-old in Cibona, I first played a qualifying round against Banik of Slovakia, and then my first official Euroleague game against Olympiacos. That was a fantastic feeling! We had a young team; my generation of teammates carried the team; and it is not easy to believe these days that such young players would have such important roles at such a high level of competition. But that also tells you how game has evolved over the years and how Euroleague improved a lot. Nevertheless, I feel nostalgic to remember those days. It was so hard for fans in Zagreb to get a ticket to watch us play. For some games, Drazen Petrovic Arena was packed an hour-and-a-half before the tip-off.
Now, this is the first year Cibona is not in the Euroleague, but their cross-town rival, KK Zagreb, is. I've been with this team for three years, we won the Euroleague berth by winning the Croatian national championship last season, and we are aware that we are unknowns in this competition. The fact that teams are not familiar with us could be a double-edged sword. It can help us, but it is also yet to be seen if everybody in and around our club is aware what really awaits us. The Euroleague is the highest level of basketball in Europe and we will have to learn in stride. We have lot of new players, lots of rookies, not only on Euroleague level but on the professional level, so I am prepared for the likelihood that it might get a little bit difficult for us. I expect us to give our best, though, and if possible surprise someone, but I do not want us to have crazy ambitions. We have to understand that we've got nothing to lose. Our team also had a coaching change six days before our first Euroleague game. We can't get away from the fact we did not start the new season well, had no wins in our first three domestic games, and it is usually the head coach who gets the blame. It is not pleasant to be in this position, especially because we are about to play even better teams than those that what we lost against so far.
Our Euroleague debut is against Brose Baskets Bamberg of Germany. They are a serious team with good roster and they are especially strong on their home court. But, I cannot say that I'm not thinking about second round and the match with Panathinaikos. That is one of the greatest European clubs, and I personally experienced some of the greatest moments of my career with them. I won the Euroleague as a member of Panathinaikos in 2002, and that was simply a dream come true. So many great players never manage or are not lucky enough to win the Euroleague trophy, and I was lucky to be a part of a Euroleague championship team. That is one of my greatest basketball memories, going into Bologna as the underdog team and beating the home favorites Kinder in the finals. The emotions that you experience in the first 15 minutes after winning such a big title is what we athletes play for, and we cherish those feelings and those memories for our entire life. No money can buy that.
My career is at its end, and this time around I am here to enjoy it, and help my team in any way I can. To be honest, I can't wait for some of my young teammates to experience this Euroleague atmosphere and surroundings. It is different than anything they are used to. Playing against the best players and superstars, they simply have to experience it and it will help them grow. It is like having a chance to drive the best car there is. There is no better competition than the Euroleague.
DAMIR MULAOMEROVIC - ZAGREB, CROATIA
Monday, October 17, 2011
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KK Zagreb CO
Keeping the faith
No better competition