Euroleague Basketball’s resident historian Vladimir Stankovic has traveled to China where he will follow the Basketball World Cup up close, starting with the games in Foshan this week. One of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague stars he will keep an eye on is All-EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic of Serbia and Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Stankovic chatted with Micic about both his club and national team career shortly before the games begin.
After such a great season, the big question is whether you and Efes will be able to keep it up in 2019-20?
"We will answer that on the court. It won't be easy because now everybody looks at us with different eyes and we cannot surprise anybody, but we'll try to give our best. I think we have reasons to be optimistic. First of all, the team has not changed, we are more experienced and we will be more adapted to each other."
Your decision to renew your contract with Efes surprised many. We know you had offers from clubs with bigger names. Why Efes?
"I am happy in Istanbul. I had, together with my teammates, a great season with the role I wanted. In the past, I switched teams almost every season and now I have the possibility to have some continuity in the same club, with the same teammates. It's true that I got several calls and offers from EuroLeague teams, but for all those reasons I decided to stay in Efes."
How do you see the next EuroLeague season?
"It will be stronger than the previous one, one of the strongest in history. Almost every team signed big players and that guarantees quality. Several players arrived from the NBA and it confirms that this is the best league in the world after the NBA. I expect a very balanced competition and a great fight to be in the playoffs. I think it will be tougher to be among the top eight teams than making it to the Final Four. There are many favorites."
"The usual suspects, I think there's no need to mention them. I think there are, at least, 10 favorites."
What do you think about the FC Barcelona signings?
"Barcelona took a huge step forward and their signings have been spectacular, but they will also have more pressure. Other teams have also made good signings. That's why I expect a great season, which will be closer than ever."
Let's talk a bit about the World Cup. What do you expect from that?
"First of all I have to say that I feel really bad about so many injuries that have happened, among them one in France with my teammate Adrien Moerman. Practically no team will be complete in China, but in spite of it all, there will be quality and good games."
After Milos Teodosic's injury, Serbia will be left with just two point guards, Stefan Jovic and yourself. Will it be complicated to play more minutes than anticipated?
"We will also be missing Dragan Milosavljevic, who can handle the ball. I don't think we will have problems in the first steps of the offense because several players can handle the ball. Jovic and I can get help from Nemanja Bjelica and Nikola Jokic, big guys who have good technique, game vision and are good passers. They can also create plays."
Many see Serbia as a favorite, especially with FIBA's Power Rankings. What do you think about that?
"I hope they are right! But there's a long list of favorites: Canada, Australia, Greece, Spain, Germany, United States... Okay, Serbia is among the favorites, but gossip is one thing and the court is another. We played well in the preparatory games, but now the moment of truth is upon us. The big stage is ahead of us and we don't have much room for mistakes. We have reasons to be optimistic, but we must take it step by step because the next game is always the most important one."