2008 Top 16 Profile: Partizan Igokea

Jan 30, 2008 by Euroleague.net Print

Partizan Igokea 
Regular Season:
5th, Group C, 6-8

Team Rankings
3rd FT %
1st rebounds
4th fouls received

Dusko Vujosevic - Partizan Igokea
Dusko Vujosevic
A Euroleague star is born and a classic European basketball team reached the Top 16 for the second consecutive season. Partizan Igokea and coach Dusko Vujosevic worked hard in the past, giving playing time to youngsters despite its many losses along the way. Partizan is back again in the Top 16 ready to make more noise than last season. The team had a strong start with consecutive wins behind an unstoppable Nikola Pekovic, the heart and soul of the team this season. Pekovic (17.9 ppg., 59.1% 2FG, 80.8% FT, 8 rpg.) has been one of the best players in the competition so far, rock-solid in the paint and unstoppable in one-on-one situations. Three other home wins against Lottomatica Roma, Chorale Roanne and Brose Baskets allowed Partizan to virtually seal its ticket to the Top 16. Pekovic founs his perfect complement in power forward Novica Velickovic (11.3 ppg., 7.6 rpg.), a mobile, aggressive big man who rebounds very well at both ends and only seem to improve as the season goes by. Both Pek
Nikola Pekovic - Partizan Igokea
Nikola Pekovic
ovic and Velickovic earned weekly MVP honors in respective home wins throughout the regular season. Both players helped Partizan to be the best rebounding team in the regular season, as well as ranking fourth in fouls drawn. Partizan ranks last in fouls committed, three-point accuracy and steals, so it knows where to improve in the Top 16. Milt Palacio (12 ppg., 3.8 apg.) has been the right fit at point guard while Dusan Kecman (11.8 ppg., 66.7% 2FG, 42.2% 3FG) is right at the prime of his career. Of course, Partizan still has a lot of young talent other than Pekovic and Velickovic. Milenko Tepic (8.6 ppg., 89.4% FT) has scored in double digits in half of the regular season games while 229 cm center Slavko Vrans (1.2 bpg.) can change any game with his size and defensive skils. Partizan is not a deep team and had could be a major factor in the long run, as five players average 25 minutes or better. If players like Uros Tripkovic (6.6 ppg.), who had a very good Top 16 last year, and Cedomir Vitkovac (6.6 ppg., 4.1 rpg.) step up, Partizan could be even more solid and challenge the biggest names in the competition.

Partizan Igokea head coach Dusko Vujosevic: "It’s a very interesting group. Panathinaikos is the Euroleague champ with the highest ranking, a team with a lot of international stars. In my opinion, Montepaschi was the strongest team in the second group. We were lucky because in the third group there was Barcelona and we missed them. But Efes Pilsen is an extremely strong team. Our job is going to be very tough. Partizan is the youngest team in the Euroleague with 11 domestic players and only one American. We’ve made fantastic success just reaching the Top 16 phase. But we have motivation and a wish not to stop there. Our players shall have the need to prove their ranking and I hope we are able to make our fans happy."
Partizan Igokea guard Dusan Kecman: "It’s an extremly strong group. We know very well Panathinaikos. We played two games in the [regular season] group and we narrowly lost both. Montepaschi is playing team basketball and in my opinion the Italian champ is the prettiest surprise of the first Euroleague phase. Efes Pilsen is an extremely inconvenient team. Anyway, there are six hard games in front of us. We have the task to give our best to prove that we deserved a place among the Top 16 Euroleague teams.."
Partizan Igokea Sports Director Predrag Danilovic: "For Partizan, being in the Top 16 is already a success. The only thing I can say right now is that we will try not to be the easy team on our group."