The Club Scene: Buducnost VOLI Podgorica

Oct 18, 2016 by Print
The Club Scene: Buducnost VOLI Podgorica

The 7DAYS EuroCup has seen certain clubs successfully compete and contend season after season through competition’s first 15 years of existence, and Buducnost VOLI Podgorica is one epitome of a classic EuroCup club. Buducnost is not only in its seventh consecutive EuroCup season, but only eight teams in history have played more games in the competition. And Buducnost, before the end of November, is certain to move into seventh place on that prestigious list. Buducnost is also a two-time quarterfinalist in the competition and made two Top 16 appearances in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague around the turn of millennium, as well.

But despite still waiting on lifting a European trophy in more than 65 years of existence, Buducnost has quite a collection of trophies as one of the most dominant modern-day teams on any domestic front in all of Europe. The team from the capital of Montenegro earned its name by dominating the world-renowned Yugoslav League at the end of the 1990s and into the new millennium. Three straight Yugoslav League titles were forged by a record-setting domestic winning streak of 51 games that ran from 1999 to 2001. If that was not enough, once Montenegro declared independence, Buducnost turned into a perennial Montenegrin champion with 10 national league and nine national cup titles in 10 years since the inaugural championship of that small Balkan country.

Buducnost is a club whose importance can also be traced to the great names of European basketball who either passed by or originated there. Dusko Ivanovic, a multiple Euroleague champion and long-time member of the coaching elite, was one of the best players in Buducnost's history, and current Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade head coach Dejan Radonjic left a big mark with the club, too. Also, Zarko Paspalj, Luka Pavicevic, Zdravko Radulovic, Nikola Bulatovic and current Buducnost head coach Vlado Scepanovic all made their reputations wearing the blue jersey of the Podgorica-based club. Dejan Tomasevic, Milenko Topic and Dejan Milojevic become stars while at Buducnost. Goran Bojanic, Miroslav Nikolic, Bogdan Tanjevic and Vlade Djurovic put their seal as coaches on the successes of the club.

KK Buducnost was founded in 1949 and its first success came just two years later, when the club took the first place in the first Championship of the Cities of Montenegro, one of the six republics that formed Yugoslavia at that time. It took almost 30 years until Buducnost made a mark on the national scene, reaching the quarterfinals of the Yugoslav Cup, only to be knocked out by the following season's Euroleague champions, Bosna, led by legends Tanjevic and Mirza Delibasic.

One of the most significant seasons in club history was 1979-80. Buducnost took the first place in the Yugoslav second division, and thus automatically qualified for the first. That was the generation that included Nikola Antic, Dragan and Dusko Ivanovic, Zoran Sutulovic, Goran Bojanic. The team was coached by Rusmir Halilovic. Shortly before the team debuted in the Yugoslav League, the brand-new Moraca Sports Center opened in Podgorica. Buducnost played all of its official matches in the sold-out arena that first season, against some of the biggest names in the sport: Cibona, Bosna, Olimpija, Partizan, Jugoplastika, Crvena Zvezda. And in that debut season, Buducnost achieved significant success, finishing eighth among 12 teams.

The club's best results in the old Yugoslav League came in the 1985-86 season, when Buducnost finished third. This was when Cibona reigned as European champion during two seasons, the legend of Jugoplastika was beginning and a generation of superstars out of Partizan was close. The young Buducnost head coach at the time, Milutin Petrovic, had players like the Ivanovic brothers, Antic, Zarko Paspalj, Nikola Milatovic, Jadran Vujacic, and together they managed to qualify for the Radivoje Korac Cup. In its European debut, Buducnost posted a respectable three wins and five losses.

The next milestone for Buducnost came a decade later, when the club lifted its first trophy ever, the Yugoslav Cup. At the tournament held in Niksic, Montenegro, the winners first defeated Beocin in the semifinals and Partizan Belgrade in a title game that is remembered for Buducnost making a record 21 three-pointers. The roster that made up that pioneer generation for Buducnost included Vlado Scepanovic, Gavrilo Pajovic, Dragan Tomovic, Miodrag Djaletic, Cedo Mudresa, Pedja Popovic, Aleksandar Ivanovic, Savo Djikanovic, Darko Ivanovic, Mirko Simovic, Dragan Vukcevic and Miomir Mugosa. The head coach was Zivko-Garo Brajovic. With a program that was clearly on the right track, Buducnost would only have to wait two seasons to repeat the success. A team coached by former player Goran Bojanic took the 1998 Yugoslav Cup.

But what followed next allowed Buducnost to bridge the 20th and 21st centuries like few pro basketball teams anywhere.

At that time, Montenegrin officials wanted to promote their republic, so they invested a lot of money in the best sport clubs. Buducnost formed a domestic "Dream Team" with Scepanovic, Pajovic, Ostojic, Vukcevic, Radunovic, Ceranic, Goran Boskovic, Dejan Radonjic, Blagota Sekulic, Nikola Bulatovic, Balsa Radunovic and Zeljko Topalovic. Coached by Miroslav Nikolic, the team won its first national title in 1998-99, a historic moment to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the club. In the same season, Buducnost had significant success in European competition, but political factors due to the NATO intervention in the region stopped its march in the Saporta Cup semifinals, where it forfeited the second-leg game against eventual champion Benetton. Nevertheless, the team from Podgorica was already earning its name among the top clubs in Europe by thoroughly dominating the Yugoslavian League at the end of the 1990s and into the new millennium. Three straight Yugoslavian League titles were forged by a record-setting domestic winning streak of 51 games that ran from 1999 to 2001 as players like Dejan Tomasevic, Haris Brkic, Vlada Kuzmanovic and Milenko Topic helped push Buducnost to a new level.

In the 1999-2000 season, Buducnost participated in the Euroleague for the first time. Despite playing its home games away from Podgorica, in Sarajevo and Budapest, the team still managed to qualify for the Top 16 stage. Again in 2000-01, Buducnost qualified for the Top 16 with a roster that featured some new names like Bojan Bakic, Sasa Obradovic, Igor Rakocevic, Dejan Milojevic and Jerome James. At midseason, Bogdan Tanjevic had replaced Miroslav Nikolic as head coach, and before it was over, the team had its first double-crown - the Yugoslav cup and league titles.

That, however, was the end of Buducnost's dominant generation. With several times smaller budget and without big names on the roster, Buducnost ended the 2002-03 Euroleague season with only two victories. The club made its ULEB Cup debut a year later, going 5-5 but failing to progress past the regular season group.

The first time in club history that Buducnost reached elimination rounds, was in 2007-08 ULEB Cup campaign, when 7 regular season wins got the team to the Last 32, before it got ousted by Hemofarm Vrsac in home-and-away Last 32 series. That, however, was the start of a series of EuroCup appearances for Buducnost, which since then has played in the competition in 9 out of last 10 seasons.

But during those same years, Buducnost started building another legacy. With Montenegro going independent, in since the summer of 2006 on a new domestic front, Buducnost became a team to beat – literally. In the first five years, Buducnost won five Montenegrin League titles with a record of 89 wins and only 1 loss. Buducnost was the winner of six consecutive Montenegrin doubles, and the first and only trophy it did not win in the past 10 years was 2013 Montenegrin Cup. At the same time, since 2002-03 season Buducnost has been competing in the Adriatic League, too. Club reached the quarterfinals in 2008, and made it first of two consecutive Final Four appearances in 2011.

With the dominance and continued success at home, came better results in EuroCup as well. Buducnost made the most noise in 2011-12 season, when wins over Banvit Bandirma and Krka Novo Mesto earned it a spot in the semifinals. Buducnost led by young big man Bojan Dubljevic beat the eventual runner-up Valencia Basket in first leg on home floor 75-71, but lost the road leg 85-63. The club repeated success the very next season, when a team historically known for its success on home floor turned into a road warrior. With road regular season away wins at Spirou Charleroi and Lukoil Academic Sofia, and in the Last 16 with a key road win against Budivelnik Kiev, the team from the Montenegrin capital reached EuroCup quarterfinals once again, only to be swept in a two-game series by the eventual champ Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.

In the last three years, Buducnost did not have as much EuroCup success, but managed to step it up another notch on domestic front. In addition to winning last three Montenegrin doubles, Buducnost also made two more Adriatic League semifinal appearances. But the team lost a deciding fifth game of the series against Cedevita in 2015, and last season, after winning the regular season, Buducnost was upset in best-of-three series against Mega Leks Belgrade.

Buducnost is poised to continue its dominance on home front this season, but also in seasons to come, while also hoping to go back to making longer EuroCup runs. And do it all with the same formula that club successfully used for majority of its existence: through the decades club somehow managed to develop great young talents, and then give them attention and precocious minutes for gaining needed experience to excel and succeed. With talents coming in bunches, it worked in the past, and it will surely work for Buducnost again, making club’s future very bright.