How’s your relationship with the Montenegrin Basketball Federation right now? Are you in good terms? Nikola Vucevic: Yeah, we’re in good terms. I’ve never had an issue with the federation. It was a thing with the coach. I decided not to play with the National Team as long as he was the coach, but everything is good with the federation.
Do you think Nikola Mirotic, Nikola Pekovic and yourself will ever play together for Montenegro? NV: I hope so, I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t answer that question for everybody… Nikola Pekovic has played for our team before, so I’m sure he wants to play although he had some issues with injuries. With Mirotic, the thing that happens is he played for Spain in the junior teams… So we will see. But I hope we can put things together and be a very good team.
David ‘Dubi’ Pick: FIBA have decided against Israel hosting Montenegro in EuroBasket QF. Games vs Holland & Bulgaria TBD on August 4th.
The Orlando Magic joins Magic center Nikola Vucevic in his efforts to raise funds for flood victims in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, both countries neighbor Vucevic’s hometown of Montenegro, by donating $5,000 to the Red Cross. Vucevic will also make a monetary donation to the Red Cross to assist in the Balkan Floods’ relief efforts. “It is during times like these we must all band together to help others,” said Magic center Nikola Vucevic. “I thank the Magic for their support in these efforts.”
“For a crash like that, I was lucky,” he said. “It’s very scary. You don’t know if you’re going to live or die. “It makes you look at life differently, not take things for granted. It makes you think about a lot of things. You try to appreciate life more.” Vucevic and his father were returning from a youth basketball camp in the mountain resort town of Kolasin in Montenegro, heading to their home in the coastal city of Bar, as the train suddenly sped uncontrollably down the tracks. Court records stated later that the brakes had failed.
This time of year always reminds Magic center Nik Vucevic “just how lucky I am” – how lucky he is to be alive. “Every time I see a train,” he said, “I think about it.” On this day eight years ago, Jan. 23, 2006, Vucevic was among hundreds of terrified passengers who were on a runaway train that derailed in Montenegro, killing 47 people and injuring nearly 200. Vucevic, then 15, escaped with bruises and cuts as did his father, Borislav.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, the lynchpin of Montenegro’s national team, has pledged to return to the fold and silence critics who accused him of skipping EuroBasket 2013. “I had private commitments that I had to take care of. It was my top priority, in summer I completed something I’ve fought and worked for during my whole life in basketball,” Pekovic told Voice of America in an interview, referring to the new contract he signed with the Timberwolves in August. “But from now on nothing can prevent me from rejoining the national team in future campaigns,” Pekovic said.
The Basketball Federation of Montenegro has confirmed that Wolves center Nikola Pekovic will not play in the Eurobasket tournament in September. The news was reported by two Spanish-speaking websites, including sportnando.net. Pekovic, a restricted free agent, has yet to come to terms with the Wolves on a new contract.
Pekovic is currently a restricted free agent, but his management and the Wolves haven’t been able to come to terms on what will reportedly be a four-year extension worth between $12 and $15 million per year. Because of the ongoing negotiations, Pekovic’s representatives have apparently recommended he doesn’t participate in the upcoming FIBA tournament in order for him to stay injury-free, according to a report on the official website of the Basketball Federation of Montenegro.
Montenegro have had to be patient but at last, NBA center Nikola Vucevic has joined the team in training ahead of the EuroBasket. The Orlando Magic big man wasn’t able to play in Hungary over the weekend in a couple of friendlies that his national team won against the hosts and Austria. He is expecting to fit in quickly. “I’m glad I’m joining the rest of the team,” he said. “They’ve been working hard since the beginning of July and in Zlatibor doing their strenuous preparations, so it is my pleasure that I am joining the preparations and am ready to start working with the rest of the team. “I worked individually in Bar (Montenegro) so believe that there will be no problem getting used to the system of work in Zlatibor and continue preparations for the European Championship, which we all await with great impatience.”
Take the Montenegro side that impressed in last summer’s Qualification Round with a 10-0 record, add two of the most promising NBA centers, and you get a frontcourt that could wreak havoc at EuroBasket 2013. This dream scenario is very close to turning into reality for the small Balkan country, as former Partizan, Panathinaikos and Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic are included in the 21-strong preliminary squad for September’s EuroBasket that head coach Luka Pavicevic announced on Monday.
Pekovic however will most likely not be present on the first day of training camp in late July and will join the team at a later stage. “He is a free agent in the NBA, and that means that from 2 July, when the transfer window opens in the U.S.A, he is waiting on the outcome of events to know at which club he will play next season,” Pavicevic explained. “Surely we cannot count on him for the beginning of the program, once he signs a contract he will come to join us as soon as possible.”
Darren Wolfson: Tiny correction: misread a text last night. Flip & Pek never met in Italy. I said it was a quickie. … Pek expected to play in EuroBasket.
Vucevic will divide his offseason between Central Florida and Europe. Although he won’t be on the Magic’s summer- league team, Vucevic plans to play for his home country of Montenegro in Europe’s championship tournament in Slovenia.
Danilo Mitrovic, Montenegro National Team director, on Bulls draftee Nikola Mirotic: “In my opinion, Mirotic is a bit angry at the Spanish Basketball Federation because he was not on the National Team for the Olympics. His place was given Serge Ibaka and this is why he was probably upset. I tried to contact him, but I could not get ahold of his phone number. I contacted FIBA, where I was told that the Mirotic must submit a request in writing and that way get a permission to play for Montenegro National Team. When he was registered by the Spanish Basketball Federation, there were many irregularities and the Spanish Federation had to pay a fine because of that.”
Serbian Hoops: Montenegro senior National Team preliminary roster released. Features Nikola Pekovic, Nikola Vucevic & Nikola Ivanovic pic.twitter.com/OkDYNE3u
While Vucevic has the world at his feet and a potentially great career ahead of him, his life has been touched by tragedy and consequently you can forgive him for appreciating the opportunity he has more than most young players after surviving a serious train crash a few years ago. “It was during 2006,” he recalled. “Myself and the team went to prepare in the mountains for the second part of our season in Montenegro and on the way back, the train crashed. “The brakes stopped working and since it was going downhill the train actually started going by itself. “It was going at a speed that was way too fast for that part of the track and in a curve inside the tunnel, it crashed. “A lot of people died, including a guy from the younger team that went with us. “I did not have any major injuries, just a couple small ones but it was a terrible thing.”
KK Buducnost Podgorica signed for the coming season Nikola Vucevic. The big man, who will be at Eurobasket 2011 with Montenegro, comes from USC Trojans with whom he averaged 17.1ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.6apg and 1.4bpg as junior. Vucevic was picked with the 16th overall by Philadelphia 76ers in 2011 NBA draft. The contract signed by the big man is with an NBA out.
The contract in Montenegro would include an out-clause allowing Vucevic to play in the NBA when the lockout ends. The only thing holding up the contract at this point is an insurance issue, but that is expected to be resolved early next week.