After leading Cedevita Zagreb to its first Turkish Airlines Euroleague victories ever in each of the last two weeks, legend Bozidar Majlkovic unexpectedly resigned as head coach on Tuesday, citing personal reasons, the club confirmed in a press conference this afternoon. Maljkovic's shock resignation comes two days before a road game against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan that could put Cedevita in fourth place and therefore Top 16 position with three regular season games left. Maljkovic returned to the Euroleague this season after several years away to coach Cedevita, an upstart club that made its debut in the competition last month after having excelled in the Eurocup two years earlier. Cedevita lost its first four Euroleague games before winning consecutive home games against Caja Laboral Vitoria of Spain and previously undefeated Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania, the latter in double-overtime last week. In the Adriatic League, Cedevita holds third place with a 6-3 record. Team officials said that assistant coach Jaksa Vulic, who had been head coach of Cedevita twice before, last in 2007, will be on the bench in Milan on Thursday.
Maljkovic achieved legendary status by becoming just the third head coach in European history to win four Euroleague-level titles, the first to do so solely in Final Fours, the first to win titles with three different clubs and to do so with clubs in three different countries. His legend began with back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990 at the head of the bench for Jugoplastika Split, which went on to win a third consecutive title in 1991 after Maljkovic left. In 1993, Maljkovic led Limoges to the first and only title by any French club in one of the biggest surprises in competition history. Three years later, in 1996, he won Greece's first Euroleague title with Panathinaikos Athens by defeating Barcelona in one of the most controversial finishes in finals history. In addition, between 1997 and 2007, Maljkovic coached Euroleague teams Racing Paris, Unicaja Malaga, Real Madrid and Caja Laboral Vitoria, with whom he reached the 2007 Final Four. His last stop before Cedevita was with Eurocup team Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar of Russia last season.
"We worked well even though we did not agree on everything, and that is why I am surprised that the coach leaves before the most important games of the season," Cedevita general manager Matej Mamic said. "I do not know about any conflict between a coach and the players. Coach was very much in charge at practices and games. If there was some minor conflict, I don't believe it was essential. And between the coach and the club administration, there was no problem."