Vladimir Stankovic at 2012 London Olympic GamesDuring the 1988-89 season, the impeccable scouting of the great Jugoplastika coached by Boza Maljkovic followed closely an unknown center who played in Celik Zenica of Bosnia-Herzegovina, on what was then a second-division team. The reports were positive and in the summer of 1989 the club from Split, the defending European champion, announced the signing of one Zoran Savic (November 18, 1966, Zenica), a center who was almost 23 years old. Few could have imagined that Jugoplastika had just made a great signing and even fewer that Yugoslav basketball had just added a new name to its list of greats.

The first game of the 1989-90 Yugoslav League, which I saw on TV, had Jugoplastika as the visiting team, I don't remember against whom, but perhaps Cibona Zagreb. What I do remember, however, was that alongside those great players that had suprisingly won the European crown in Munich the previous season - Kukoc, Radja, Ivanovic, Perasovic, Pavicevic, Sretenovic and Sobin - a rookie wearing number 13 stood out. Defensive rebound, two points, offensive rebound, assists, another rebound, fastbreak, foul drawn, free throw in... As Bogdan Tanjevic perfectly defines it: "Talent is like a shorter leg. You can see it right away."

That's how Zoran Savic started his career, in style. He was not a young talent that had shined on inferior teams of a great team of the old Yugoslavia. In fact, until he was 16 years old, Savic didn't even play basketball. His path was slow, with obstacles, and most of all, with lots of hard work. He was sent on loan to Capljina Borac where he coincided with Jasmin Repesa - with whom he... more
POSTED BY Vladimir Stankovic -
DATE: June 27, 2013
Vladimir Stankovic at 2012 London Olympic Games While preparing this article, I asked my friend Yarone Arbel, also a columnist on, for some data about Tal Brody. He sent me an e-mail with some figures and details about Brody, but what caught my attention was a sentence that read: "Here, in Israel, when talking about basketball, there is a before and after Tal Brody." It's impossible to say more in fewer words about this historical player, a great figure with so much meaning for Israeli basketball. There is no doubt that Maccabi Tel Aviv has showcased better players than Brody, but his merit was being the first great signing of the club and the key piece in an ambitious project of converting Maccabi into a great Israeli ambassador.

Talbot "Tal" Brody was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on August 20 of 1943 into a Jewish family. His grandfather and his father emigrated to the United States in the 1920s after having lived in Palestine and Eastern Europe. At 8 years old, Tal started playing basketball at the Trenton Jewish Community Center and also at the local Boys Club and his school. From those school days he knew he wanted to be either "a pro basketball player or an FBI agent".

He stood out in high school (15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds) and received scholarship offers to play basketball at more than 40 colleges. He chose the not-so-powerful University of Illinois, aware that there he would probably have more of a role. With him at the point - with his excellent court vision, great assists and precise shot – Illinois won the famous Big Ten Conference championship. Tal Brody was the top scorer and the best passer. He was named to the... more
POSTED BY Vladimir Stankovic -
DATE: June 19, 2013
Vladimir Stankovic at 2012 London Olympic GamesAt the end of the Spanish League regular season, some breaking news emerged: Alberto Corbacho of Blusens Monbus established a new record with an average of 3.21 three-pointers made per game. Corbacho put an end to the reign of Chicho Sibilio and his record from 1986-87 of 3.14 threes per contest - a record that lasted 26 years. I am sure that some of the younger fans are wondering who Chicho Sibilio is. This is the story of a great player who arrived from a small country in the Caribbean that did not have a powerful national team, but featured some interesting players and a great star: Cándido Antonio Sibilio Hughes (born October 3, 1958 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic), simply known as "Chicho" by the basketball world.

In a great story about him in "Informe Robinson", a show on Spanish TV hosted by Mike Robinson, the player himself said that the great Serbian coach Ranko Zeravica "fell in love" with him in the mid-1970s. I talked to Zeravica this week and he told me an interesting story about Chicho: "Through several sources we got word that in the Dominican Republic there was a very interesting player. A shooting guard with NBA potential, whose name I don't remember now. So with Eduardo Portela, then with FC Barcelona, we set up a tour of the Dominican national team with the idea of watching that other player and signing him if he convinced us. It so happened that I saw a slim small forward that had the wrist of the best shooters. I told Portela right away that I wanted this forward and that we had to sign him no matter what. That's how we signed Chicho Sibilio at 17 years old."

That was the... more
POSTED BY Vladimir Stankovic -
DATE: June 13, 2013
Vladimir Stankovic at 2012 London Olympic GamesOn May 4, 1949, Italian sports suffered a great tragedy. A plane crashed on the hill of Superga, near Turin. Among the 31 victims were 18 players from the great football team Torino, the best Italian team at the time and winner of five league titles and one cup between 1942 and 1949. There were no survivors, but two great names indeed resurrected Italian sports. Valentino Meazza was the big star of Torino and the Italian national team, just like his son Sandro Mazola, star at Inter and the Italian national team in the 1970s. Franco Ossola was also a member of the great Torino, but his little brother, Aldo, which at the time of the tragedy was only 4 years old, triumphed in another sport: basketball. His other brother, Luigi, also chose football and played in the first division with Varese, Roma and Mantova.

Aldo Ossola's case is not typical. He triumphed in basketball without knowing what is, for many, the most important part of the game: shooting. Scoring was not his strong point, even though he knew how to surprise his teammates and rivals alike from time to time. His strengths were organizing the game, vision, passing, great defense and leadership. He was a tall guard (1.92 meters) which allowed him to be also a solid rebounder. In Italian there is a word that defines his role perfectly: regista. Ossola was a great guard, a great director who earned his nickname: Von Karajan of Italian basketball.

Ten finals in a row

Ossola was like the director of an orchestra, the great Ignis Varese of the golden era, between 1969 and 1979. The team played 10 (!)... more
POSTED BY Vladimir Stankovic -
DATE: June 6, 2013