Marko Marinovic, BC FMP

Feb 06, 2006 by Aca Ostojic, ULEBCup.com Print
Marko Marinovic, BC FMP
Marko Marinovic - FMP Cacak, is a small town close to the Morava River, is known as the "Serbian Bologna" due to its great basketball history. According to legend in Cacak, whoever washes his hands in the Morava River becomes an excellent basketball shooter, and history would seem to prove it. Cacak was the hometown of legendary shooting guard Dragan Kicanovic, but there is a player ready to follow his footsteps as one of the finest scorers ever in the town's history, combo guard Marko Marinovic of BC FMP. What makes his story even more remarkable is that Marinovic has shot his way back to stardom, helping FMP provide some of the season's biggest highlights, after recovering from career-threatening injuries he suffered in November, 2004 car accident. Just over a year later, Marinovic made the game-winning running three-pointer that handed Unics Kazan its only ULEB Cup loss of the regular seasons. It was just one of many spectacular moments this young player has generated. "I know what my role is here in FMP," Marinovic told ULEBcup.com. "I have to play for the team, not for my own stats. Deep in my soul, however, I love to please the crowd with incredible threes and slam dunks. It is true that we all have to take basketball seriously, but we are here to play for our fans, too."

Kicanovic, Radmilo Misovic, one of the biggest scorers ever in former Yugoslavia, legendary player and coach Zeljko Obradovic or Partizan teen sensation Uros Tripkovic are just some of the best players to come out of Cacak. Marinovic is just ready to join the list of greats in the history of this town. Marinovic is an old-school, shoot-first combo guard who knows well where his basketball roots are. "We are all members of the Cacak basketball school, the one from which great shooters come," he says. " A lot of great shooters come from Cacak because there are high-level conditions to practice your outside shot." Kicanovic has been a role model for Marinovic, who followed the legend's footsteps when he was a kid. "I used to stay after practice and shoot just as Kicanovic and other stars did," Marinovic said. "My friends went swimming in the Morava or clubbing. but I opted to practice my shot. I know very well that talent only means 20 or 30 percent of success."

Marinovic was born in Cacak on March 15, 1983 and chose to play football in primary schoo before joining legendary basketball club Borac Cacak when he was 15. He soon became a promising guard and earned the nickname "Malina", which means rapsberry in Serbian. Nobody knows where this nickname came from, but he has kept it throughout the years. At age 17, he reached his actual height of 1.83 meters and started to play for Borac's senior team. In just his first season, Marinovic averaged 12.4 points in 22 Yugoslavian League games, making 23 of 82 triples. A year later he averaged 11.4 points and improved his shooting percentages by hitting 33 of 93 threes. His sudden impact in the Serbian League allowed Marinovic to become a member of the Yugoslavian U-20 team that took part in the 2000 European Championship. His biggest success at the national team level came three years after that, when he helped Serbia and Montenegro to win the gold medal at the World University Games in 2003. FMP Zeleznik has had a special relationship with Borac Cacak for many years. Many talented players move from Borac to FMP and that is just what Marinovic did.

When Marinovic arrived in Zeleznik at age 21, the team had just won the Adriatic League and reached the ULEB Cup semifinals, which FMP, then called Reflex, lost against soon-to-be-champs Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in dramatic fashion. The expectations were high and Marinovic also had a hard task - replacing playmaker Ivan Zoroski, who left the club that very same summer. Marinovic was not afraid of the challenge. "I know what my role is here in FMP, and I knew it back then," he says. "I have to play for the team, not for my own stats. Deep in my soul, however, I love to please the crowd with incredible threes and slam dunks. It is true that we all have to take basketball seriously, but we are here to play for our fans, too."

He started his FMP career in an incredible way. In his first ULEB Cup game ever, a road game against Turk Telekom last season, Marinovic earned weekly MVP honors by amassing a 43 index ranking. Marinovic has good memories of that game: "I opened the game in an excellent way, with two triples, two layups and a steal, so that helped me. I played as if I was in a trance until the final buzzer". An ULEB Cup star had been born, but just five weeks later, on November 22, 2004, everything was about to change in a tragic way.

Marinovic was driving his car in Belgrade while going to practice when suddenly he lost control and his vehicle crashed against a bus. He was lucky to survive, but Marinovic had a terrible hip discolation tht sidelined him most of the season. "This is an experience I would not even want for my biggest enemy," he says. "I spent 45 days in the hospital, with strict orders to lay on my back. The doctors said that my basketball career could be over, but I knew they were wrong. I spent two months is hospital and two more months walking on crutches. I was expected to be out for the season but I worked really hard and I managed to be back on court for the final games of the Serbia and Montenegro League in April." He could not help his team to win the Serbia and Montenegro Cup title, but his comeback was incredible. He even had 40 points in a game against Buducnost. "I knew I could make up for lost time by working hard. When I was finaly back on court, I was weak because I had not been running for months, but I started to practice and got back in shape," Marinovic told us.

This season, Marinovic was promoted to full-time starter in FMP once Bojan Popovic moved to Dynamo Moscow. He has averaged 10.8 points in the ULEB Cup regular season and 13.6 points in the Adriatic League, in which FMP ranks second so far. He has provided some highlights, like a huge slam dunk over Union Olimpija forward Jimmy Oliver in an Adriatic League game. Marinovic also scored 13 points in the final 5 minutes of a ULEB Cup game against Etosa which FMP won on the road in Alicante, Spain. His biggest moment so far this season, however, was the game-winning three against Unics Kazan. Marinovic has fresh memories of it. "The score was tied at 67-67 in the final minute. Unics had possesion but my teammate Bojan Krstovic had a crucial block. I took the ball and I tried to drive to the basket, but suddenly I saw that I had an open three-pointer," Marinovic recalls. "I fired the bomb with 3 seconds to go and I said to myself 'Why not?'. I made the shot to win the game. It was the only loss Unics had in the regular season."

The future belongs to Marko Marinovic, as his car accident and long recovery belong to the past. A long, promising career is in front of him as he will turn 23 in March. Marinovic has his own future plans: "I would like to play abroad in some big team, that could be my next big step. I like playing for big teams because I like to play under pressure. I feel the moment I have to take responsibility. Honestly, I like to be a leader. Even with that, I am under contract with FMP for two more seasons and I want to leave a legacy here. I dream of the day when my FMP jersey will be retired and hanging on top of the roof in our arena." With his combination of talent, leadership and willingness to improve, Marinovic is ready to carry FMP on his shoulders, leading the team to bigger heights.