Bojan Krstovic, Hemofarm Stada
|There is no doubt that experience counts when it comes to winning titles. At the Final Eight in Turin, Italy this week, Bojan Krstovic of Hemofarm Stada will be counted on for his experience at the head of a young team. Since 2003, Krstovic has played more games than anyone - 73 and counting - in Europe's second competition. Still only 28 years old, Krstovic is a young veteran who arrived to Hemofarm last summer from BC FMP, another standard-bearer of Serbian basketball in Europe's second competition. A hard-nosed defender who never gives up, Krstovic has more than lived up to expectations this season, averaging 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12 Eurocup games. He boosted his numbers to 11.3 points and 3 rebounds in the Last 16, helping Hemofarm advance to the Final Eight. Now, as Hemofarm prepares to face Dynamo in the Eurocup quarterfinals on Thursday in Turin, Krstovic knows one thing for sure: his team won't lack for effort as it tries to keep going toward a Eurocup trophy. "We will give our best. If that is good enough to reach the semifinals – great. If not, we won't be ashamed because we gave everything," Krstovic told Eurocupbasketball.com. "One thing is for sure. We will not give up till the last hundredths of a second of the game. Believe me."
Hello, Bojan. First of all, how has been the season for you and Hemofarm Stada so far?
"I think the season is good and successful. It would be even better if we managed to win a trophy... Our primary goals are fulfilled. We reached Eurocup Final Eight and the Adriatic League final four but I don't think we are going to stop now. I am personally satisfied, too. This is my first season at Hemofarm and my teammates accepted me well."
What does it mean for a club like Hemofarm and for you, after so many years in the competition, to make it to a big event like the Final Eight?
"It means a lot to all of us. This is our prize. All of European basketball will be in Turin and it is a big honor and a chance for us. But I'll say tell again - we won't be satisfied by just showing up and participating there."
You hold the record for most games played in Europe's second competition. What does it mean for you and how do you see the evolution of the Eurocup since you first played it in 2004?
"Am I the record holder? Great, it is news to me. Well, I played for six years at FMP and I practically grew up together with the competition. I think the former ULEB Cup and Eurocup is an excellent competition. Almost as strong as the Euroleague. For example, FMP passed Joventut and later was eliminated in the semifinals by Hapoel. That tells how strong the competition is. Last year's teams from Russia are highlighted by the huge budgets they have."
At age 28, you are one of the most experienced players on the team. What advice can you give to the many talented youngsters at Hemofarm before your quarterfinal game against Dynamo?
"We must play that game like any other game. My advice would be to give your best and see what happens. But the fact is that I don't need to say anything to my friends on the team. All of them are young, but experienced guys. They are clever enough."
What do you think your team has to do to beat Dynamo Moscow? Do you think that being the underdog benefits your team in any way?
"We will be relaxed as underdogs. But it is questionable if that could be of any help to us. We will try to surprise Dynamo, but we cannot threaten them because Dynamo is a big name."
Milan Macvan was awarded the Eurocup Rising Star trophy earlier this week. You already played with him at FMP, how far can he go in his career?
"I am sure he can become one of Europe's best players. Milan is young, but an experienced guy. He was the best player in the junior national team selections. He has an excellent outlook and he has to continue to work and improve. Milan is a good man and a good player."
You played for Zeleznik for many years, a prestigious club with one of the best farmyards in Europe. What is so special about FMP and what do they do to develop young talent?
"The secret is in scouting. FMP has the best scouts. And there is FMP's second team, Borac from Cacak, where young players go to play. Instead of sitting on the bench at FMP, they go there to get minutes and feel the fire. This is FMP's secret."
Hemofarm has missed Vladan Vukosavljevic for the best part of the season, but signed Marton Bader and gave quality playing time to center Boban Marjanovic. How has Bader helped you this season and how far can Marjanovic go?
"Yes, Bader gave us consistency and he helped us so much in practices and in games too. After Vukosavljevic was sidelined, Marjanovic was given more time on the court. He has real big potential. But he has to keep working."
Hemofarm already reached the ULEB Cup semifinals in 2005 and 2006. What would it mean for you and the club to go even further and win the Eurocup title?
"Wow, it would be great, real great. That would be the club's prize and the best prize to each player. Next season we would play in the Euroleague... We dream about that."
Your team is well known for never giving up, like in the regular season do-or-die game against Nymburk. What can we expect from Hemofarm in this Final Eight?
"We will give our best. If that is good enough to reach the semifinals – great. If not, we won't be ashamed because we gave everything. One thing is for sure. We will not give up till the last hundredths of a second of the game. Believe me."
Monday, March 30, 2009