Jure Balazic, KRKA Novo Mesto

Feb 27, 2012 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Jure Balazic, KRKA Novo Mesto
Jure Balazic - Krka Novo Mesto (photo basket.krka.si)Krka Novo Mesto broke a four-game losing streak by downing Banvit 78-72 in Last 16 Week 5. That win allowed Krka to keep its slim chances alive to make it to the Quarterfinals. Krka will advance if it beats Buducnost by at least 17 points and Spartak St. Petersburg downs Banvit. One of its main players, power forward and team captain Jure Balazic, shined against Banvit with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Born in Novo Mesto and raised in Krka's youth teams, Balazic helped the club to reach the first-ever ULEB Cup final back in 2003. Krka and Balazic did not return to the competition again until this season, in which the team has reached the Last 16 and still has a chance to go further. Balazic has averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 11 Eurocup games until now. Optimistic as ever, Balazic knows Krka will go to Podgorica to fight for a Quarterfinals spot, as he told us in this Eurocupbasketball.com interview. "We have nothing to lose, but a whole lot to gain," Balazic told Eurocupbasketball.com. "Buducnost won all three games we played against them this season, so they are expected to win and we are going to do our best to make it as hard as possible for them."

How has been the Eurocup season for Krka until now?

"Our goal was to get to the second round of the Eurocup, the Last 16. We achieved that and on Tuesday we'll see if that's where we finish."

Your team changed a lot of players before the Last 16. How difficult was it to adjust?

"KK Krka is very stable team and we are not used to so many changes in one season. We needed time to get to know each other and to become a real team."

Everything clicked against Banvit, as you finally got a big home win. What were the keys to that game?

"I think it was only a matter of time. We were practicing well and we finally showed that on court. The key to winning that game was our good defense and rebounding."

That win gives you some chances to reach the next round. You have to beat Buducnost by 16 points and wait for Spartak to beat Banvit. How will you approach that game?

"We have nothing to lose, but a whole lot to gain. Buducnost won all three games we played this season, so they are expected to win and we are going to do our best to make it as hard as possible for them..."

Jure Balazic - KRKA Novo Mesto (Photo: Adriatic League)You played in the first-ever ULEB Cup season, in which Krka made it to the final. Which are your best memories of that ULEB Cup season?

"The whole season was overwhelming for me. A year before I played in the second division team and a few months later there I was playing against all those great teams..."

Krka defeated Lleida and Joventut to get to the final. How unexpected was that run to the title series against Valencia?

"We had a really good team with excellent chemistry. Nobody expected us to go all the way to the finals but us. With Joventut we were down 13 after first game, but we all believed that we could beat them on our home court."

This is your first Eurocup season since then, too. How do you think that the competition has improved during the years?

"It is hard to say because I'm a different player now. I think the quality of the Eurocup is just below the Euroleague and that the best teams from the Eurocup would be successful in the Euroleague."

You were born in Novo Mesto and have been a part of the club for the best part of your career. For someone so identified with Krka and its team captain, how does it feel to see the club doing so well these last three years?

"It feels really, really good. To be Slovenian champion is always our main goal, but last year we also made it to Adriatic League Final Four, won the EuroChallenge and I'm very proud to have been an important part of it."

Having a look around in the competition, which teams are your favorites to win the 2011-12 Eurocup?

"I would have to say Spartak, Valencia and Khimki."