Summary clip of today's sports events, 13.1 (Sport1)
Nikola Vycic will finish his position at Maccabi Tel Aviv at the end of the season, and he has quite a few insights on the situation of the club in particular, and of Israeli and European basketball in general.
In an extensive interview he gave to the Serbian media and published today (Friday) on the "Sportclub" website, the sports director shares some of these insights.
On the balanced season in the Euroleague: "There are no words to describe this season. It is impossible to predict who will win in any game, no matter which field. We are doing quite well in the home game this season, and our problem is mainly in away games. Bottom line, our goal is to stay in the top eight and get to the playoffs."
On the high (too?) turnover of players in the team: "Maccabi faces a rather unique situation. We were able to keep Scotty Wilbkin for four years, and for two years he played with Ante Zizic. Still, it is not easy at all to keep proven players in Maccabi for the long term long when they get better financial offers elsewhere. We brought in players like Elijah Bryant and Tyler Dorsey for relatively low amounts, but we couldn't keep them, because to do that we had to exceed the budget. They got better offers, and that's why we had to trade them Now we have a team made up of players, most of whom have signed long-term contracts, and this is a great success for us. Maccabi Tel Aviv is never late in paying salaries, not even by one day. It has been like this for decades, but for this to be possible, we must work within a certain budget framework." .
"It's not easy to keep such players."
Wilvkin and Zizic (photo: Barney Ardov)
On the local players in Israel: "Israel does not produce high level players. The situation here is much less good compared to Serbia. It is impossible to compare at all. If only we had here the basketball schools that are in Serbia, the Serbian work ethic, the Serbian national team basketball... The situation was completely different. On the other hand, this problem is also felt outside of Israel. All over Europe, players have stopped being produced. It's not the quality it used to be, nor the quantity it used to be. We rely more and more on American players simply because we have to. The American players go through a lot of education More strict, much more invested. We work with them for eight consecutive years on their abilities, and they reach a high level. The pool of American players is so large, we must use it. It is impossible to be competitive without using this pool."
On the love for Maccabi Tel Aviv: "Even before I joined the club as a player, I was attracted to the possibility of playing in a team that represents an entire country. Maccabi Tel Aviv is the best ambassador of Israel in the world. We receive such sympathy, it's really special. Everyone follows Maccabi Tel Aviv, no It matters if they are fans of Hapoel Tel Aviv or other local teams. Maccabi is a national pride. Only those who experience it up close can understand it."
Does he have any regrets when it comes to his acting career?
"The only regret is that I didn't win enough times in the Euroleague. I appeared in the final six times and won only twice. After all, you play against the best teams in Europe and in one game everything is possible. I remember very well the game I faced Arvydas Sabonis when he played for Zalgiris. He almost Knocked us out with his own hands and denied us an appearance in the final four at home. All the players of my generation were on a completely different level, in my opinion. There were great players who worked very hard to become legends. Matiaj Samudic, Dejan Bodiroga, Dejan Tomaszewicz, Frederic Drobniak... every game You faced another super player. Once the European players were the real stars of the league."
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"Once the Europeans were the real stars."
Vujic next to Bodiroga (photo: Danny Maron)
Finally, Vujic claims that the current system of the Euroleague, which allows only 8 teams to participate in the playoffs, does an injustice to the enterprise.
"Basketball here is too competitive for the number to be so low. It's just not good enough, and I think the system will change in the coming years. I would suggest that the Euroleague hold a play-in like in the NBA, or a Top 16 if the league expands to 20 teams. There are all kinds of Ideas that can be implemented."
Euroleague and European basketball
Maccabi Tel Aviv in basketball