Hello everybody, this is my first blog of the season. I will start by stating that we already had a lot of things happen here at Cedevita Zagreb early on this season, and it is no secret that not everything has been great. Our season did not really start the way we hoped. We had many changes during the summer, we got a new head coach, Sito Alonso, seven or eight new players, and big expectations. Unfortunately, things did not function the way everybody wanted. Coach Alonso is very respected and has very good results in his career, and all the players who came can play and are all really good guys whom I like a lot. However, it just happened that things simply did not click.
We had several defeats in both the EuroCup and in the Adriatic League, and club decided to make a coaching change by appointing coach Slaven Rimac, and also made some changes on our roster. Under Coach Rimac we now managed to get a couple of important wins in the past two weeks, which helped change the overall atmosphere. We showed everybody we can play good basketball, and that we are on our way to finding the way that we want and need to play this season to be successful.
"We now have found that 'click' that was missing."
Our first important win was in the Adriatic League against Buducnost Voli Podgorica, where we came back from a huge deficit in the second half. We did not really do much offensively in that game, but we played defense, hustled, and I guess earned a little help from above in the end when Nemanja Gordic missed two free throws. I am saying that because Nemanja is now with Buducnost, playing in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, but he has been my really good friend for a long time, and I really cannot remember the last time he missed two free throws.
That win changed a lot of things; it gave us peace and belief in Coach Rimac's philosophy. And I think things started to show last week in the EuroCup when we had a really big win against Limoges CSP. We aimed to beat them by more than 14 points and managed to do that, so we now have tiebreak advantage over them, and I think it puts us on the right track with a 3-3 record in our Group B.
I would say that with Coach Rimac we now have found that "click" that was missing. A few other guys and I got to know him really well last season when he was our assistant. I liked to say that I spent more time with him on the road than with my family last season, and he has something in his approach, honesty and knowledge that makes players believe in him. I think if we follow his ideas, we will have success.
I am honored to have been chosen the team captain in this, my second season with Cedevita. I've changed 10 professional clubs in my career, and I have been a captain at four of them, and I served as a captain for few games at two other teams, as well. I get asked these questions about captaincy, but I really don't know the answers.
I guess that wherever I went, I never had problems fitting in. I can only assume that people recognize my energy and hustle. I try always to be positive, and even when things are not going well, I try to find a way to ease and loosen things up. The way I look at it, I know there must be bad moments during the season, but I try to find silver linings. The point is that whatever happens, you can't turn back the clock, so I try to find ways to help the team with positive energy and to show that to the fans during games. I know that sometimes I stick out because of it, at practices and during games, but I am not afraid to show those emotions. Actually, with me, there is no middle ground: I am either smiling or I am very nervous.
"With me, there is no middle ground: I am either smiling or I am very nervous."
I cannot play basketball without energy. I have always been like that. That is my way, and that is what led me to where I am today. When I started playing, I heard things like I am not talented enough, so maybe it's the spite inside of me trying to prove to people that I can succeed. And with this abnormal energy, I probably compensated for the things I lacked in other basketball segments. That approach had results, opened certain doors for me, and then it just became a part of me and my personality on the court. And it feels great when I see my teammates feed off of it. I know that sometimes, when they see me hustling or diving after the balls, they probably think that they had better start doing it, too.
Well, I hope that attitude will help us in some way this season, too. Our first goal of the season is to reach the Top 16. With home games against Arka Gdynia and Tofas Bursa, I feel like we are in a good position to do so. If we accomplish that, we will certainly want to leave a better impression in the Top 16 than we did last season, when we went winless.
Our expectations for this season are still big, but we've got to go one game at the time, starting with our visit to Berlin to play ALBA on Wednesday. Check back with me in a few weeks, and see how we are doing. Until then, keep enjoying this EuroCup season!