At the age of 61, and having won no less than 48 championships, trophies and medals during his coaching career, tonight (Monday, 19:00) Zeliko Oberdovic will face a new challenge he has never known: a game in the Adriatic League. The shrinking coach of Partizan Belgrade will be hosted by his team at Zadar, and will officially open the fascinating journey he embarked on in the seventh decade of his life.

Next to the coach adorned with the history of European basketball will stand the Israeli angle, and this time it is not provincial or marginal. At the age of 20, when his experience in international ventures includes only appearances with Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Champions League qualifiers, Yam Madar is expected to serve as the first coordinator in Oberdovich’s team – and much of the burden will be placed on him on his way to the coveted goal: Eurocup and whether following winning the Adriatic Championship.

The preparation period for the new season did a good service for Madar, who will wear the No. 4 jersey in Belgrade. He scored 19 points against Monaco, 15 against Panathinaikos and 14 against Anadolu Efes. He had crucial clutch baskets in one overtime, and fatal errors in another close game – but bottom line, confidence from the Serbian fox is starting to look natural, and compliments from Serbia’s demanding basketball scene were not long in coming either. And no, he has not yet caused Oberdovich’s face to redden (or adapt). This too, remove worry from your heart, will happen again.

“The average fan has not heard of Madar before, but he has already become one of the crowd favorites. He is young, he is eager to succeed, and he is a fighter.” Zeljko Oberdovic briefs Madar (41) and his players | Official website, Partizan Belgrade

“Immediately after Madar signed, Oberdovich said he chose him and preferred him over 20 other coordinators offered to him,” explains the veteran journalist of the Mozart Sport website, Georgie Matic, who has been closely covering Partisan for about 25 years. . “For the fans, there was no need for more than that, because they trust Jeliko with their eyes closed. I must admit that in terms of communication this was not a big surprise. “More, which are considered high hopes. Yam fits in perfectly with Partisan’s vision. The basketball people here knew him from his performances with the Israeli reserve team, which he carried to win the European Championship in Tel Aviv together with Danny Abdia.”

Luka Petrovic, a fan of the team, admits that “it is clear that the average basketball fan did not hear about Madar before he signed with Partizan, but he has already become one of the crowd favorites. Two weeks ago I arrived at the Belgrade Arena with another 15,000 people, Partisan defeated Zero, Madar was excellent and since then I hear only good words about him, both in the stands and on social media. He’s young, he seems eager to succeed, and he’s a fighter, as we like. “And there is no doubt that Shim is one of the most prominent faces of all this.”

The partisan president said in a local interview that the team’s budget will be around six million euros this season, and Madar has reached a dream situation from the beginning: he holds the position of coordinator alongside Dallas Moore, a gray foreigner who previously collaborated with Hapoel Tel Aviv; Oberdovich’s additional and unnatural option to manage the game will be in the hands of Alexa Abramovich. Or in other words – the Israeli gets the stage in the first place and not in retrospect, because the coach believes in him and not due to constraints, injuries and other troubles.

The Serbian coach does not often bet on young foreigners, and during his long career he signed only two at an earlier age than Madar: Giorgi Sharmadini in Panathinaikos (2009) and Stefan Stasic in Benton Treviso (1998), who were 19, but their status was much less than that of the Israeli. When Yaka Lakovic, for example, landed at Oberdovich in Pau at the age of 24, the club made sure to wrap him in veteran Ariel McDonald as a mentor; When Oded Katash settled in Athens, and was already a superstar, there were other proven and experienced coordinators around him in the form of Nando Gentila and Michael Koch. In the partisan, as mentioned, the situation is completely different, also due to the fact that its budget is about 80 percent lower than the amounts made available to Oberdovich in his previous group, Fenerbahce.

Journalist Matic: “In various forums I have read that people compare Yam to Milos Vianic, and both are really somewhat similar in lean body structure, but their style is completely different. Vianic was more of a scorer, while Madar is on the right track towards becoming a brilliant game manager. Moore “Abramovich is more experienced than he is, and will take action when needed to complete it and cover it.”

Dallas Moore and Yam Madar at Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2018
“We are talking about a three.year project, which in the first season will have to do one thing – win a ticket to the Euroleague.” Madar and Dallas Moore at Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2018 | Official website, Hapoel Tel Aviv

Even in the official fantasy game of the Eurocup, Madar is slowly becoming a star. Its starting price for the season, which will open in about two weeks, is the fourth among partisan players (after Lydie, Panther and Alan Smailgic) and is ranked 23rd among the guards among the 20 teams in the factory. For comparison, the guard who enjoys the same status in the fantasy Euroleague is Lorenzo Brown from Onyx Kazan.

But with all due respect to the Israeli, it is clear that the true story of the partisan concerns Oberdovich. The identity of the coach is also derived from the media hype that the coordinator receives even in Israel. Although the Serb won nine European Cups with five different clubs – big and rich (Panathinaikos, Real Madrid and Fenerbahce) alongside small and pretentious ones (Partizan and Badalona) – but returning to where he ended his career as a player, where he started coaching, ignited the romance of European basketball.

“A combination of several circumstances led to this exciting union,” Matic analyzes. “Jeliko was looking for a new challenge after sitting at home for a year, and Partisan came from a bad season: she finished seventh in Adriatic, was eliminated in the top 16 of the Eurocup and only reached the Cup semi.finals. I don’t think money had significant weight here. The budget went up, but not in form Dramatic. Some sponsors got excited and joined in, and those who voted with their feet are the fans, who have already garnered about 6,000 subscriptions. In any case, the goals set by the management and Oberdovich are ranked as realistic. It’s simple – to win a ticket to the Euroleague. “

Belgrade partisan fans
6,000 fans have already voted with their feet and purchased a subscription. See and envy: The setting at the Belgrade Arena in the farewell game between Nowica and Lichkovich, about two weeks ago | Official website, Partizan Belgrade

The club’s professional and financial crash did not begin last season. Beyond the fact that Partizan has not played in the Euroleague since 2014, she has not won an Adriatic in the last eight years. Two years ago, Andrea Trinkieri was placed in Belgrade, in what was supposed to launch the black.and.whites into a new path, but then the corona came into the picture and the plans went awry. The Serbs were supposed to appear for the first time in the EuroCup quarterfinals, then the corona plague broke out and led to the cancellation of the season.

Now the club is once again trying to restore the old crown. “There was a long period of rehabilitation here,” explains the veteran journalist. “In recent years, a significant portion of the budget has been invested in covering past debts, but now, ahead of Zeliko’s arrival, a partisan has managed to ‘clear a table’ and start over.”

Like any basketball team, a partisan – naturally – depends, among other things, on the strength of its rivals; Or rather, one rival, the Red Star Belgrade is named. The hot derby anyway is expected to make the season hot, if the epidemic allows of course. Tsarbana Zevzda, as she is called in Serbian, will host the first meeting between the two in about a month and a half, and a partisan will play against her at home in the Adriatic League only in March.

The city’s senior representative, who still plays in the Euroleague, has not remained indifferent to the sensational developments. She decided to tackle the Oberdovich project using an inverted structure: fewer young and promising actors, and more experienced friends, who are already well acquainted with the material being studied and are building on the renewal of chemistry between them. Coach Diane Radonic, who was reinstated last season for a second term on the team, was joined this summer by no less than four exes who previously wore her striped uniforms – Nikola Kalinic, Knight Walters, Mike Cirves and Luka Mitrovic.

The following figure may illustrate the difference between the historical rivals perfectly: While Oberdovic brought Belgrade the historic trophy in 1992, from that three.pointer by Sasha Georgevich in the final in Istanbul, only one of his current partisan players was born (William Mosley); In contrast, seven Red Star existing players have already lived. So it’s true that Oberdovic is a decade older than Radonic, and it’s true that he reached the 18 Purim final more than him (0:18), but he is the one who represents the young, hungry and ambitious team, while the other comes with the experienced, veteran and solid staff.

Strange and challenging, as Oberdovich likes.

By Editor

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