A year of success and jubilee in the most trophy-winning basketball club of Republika Srpska.

They went quietly to Turkey and returned as the best junior team of Europe!

And while there was real euphoria in Banja Luka and Republika Srpska with the arrival of the best tennis players in the world, led by “the best among the best” Novak Đoković, in distant Asia Minor, more precisely Bursa, a new history of sports in Srpska was being written!

The young basketball players of “Igokea” won the Junior FIBA Champions League. And how, among the 12 selected teams, they achieved the maximum effect and won the prestigious trophy, the first in the history of the FIBA league. The youth team from Aleksandrovac, after four triumphs in the group (Ostende, Murcia, Nimburk, Hapoel Jerusalem), in the semi-final was better than the Lithuanian “Ritas” (76:72), and in the dramatic final they defeated the home team “Tofaš” (73:66 ) and thus wrote the most important page of their history, which is supplemented every day with great results. It will be recorded that in the match for the trophy, Ognjen Radošić shone with 26 points and Dušan Makitan with 15 points and 17 rebounds, who made a great contribution to winning the title.

Team captain Dušan Makitan was selected the MVP of the championship, and was also selected in the top five of the tournament.

And the miracle worker was coach Slobodan Kecman, together with his associates Darko Trkulja and Aljoša Višekruna. Modest, hard-working and always toned, even today, with an eight-month gap, he looks at this success as something most normal, because his moto is work, work, and only work, which sooner or later pays off.

‒ It’s a big deal for all of us. For me, the players, the boys who were there. It is certain that this experience will mean a lot to them in their future careers.  Unlike other teams that were there, we have a big handicap, because unfortunately, we don’t have enough strong and quality matches. On the other hand, organizationally, these teams are much bigger than us in almost all segments, except for the one where heart and knowledge decide. We also showed Europe that results can be achieved even from our environment, with honest work. Few people expected it, but we believed in it, because just being among the top of Europe was a success, and everything else just came as cherry on the top of the cake – Kecman begins the story.

Today, he works with the U-16 generation, because he got “dry old age” from the previous one (now U-18).

‒ And these kids have great potential and a bright future, it’s hard to compare generations, but surely the next one is no weaker than this golden one. They have the opportunity to compete in our second team – “Igokea Student”. Every minute on the court at that age is precious, because one becomes a great player only through constant games – says Kecman.

In the sea of good players, he is sure that some of them will be great basketball players in the near future.

‒ I’m not a prophet, but I believe that some of them will have great careers. The two Ognjens, Stanković and Radošić, are on the right track, as are some other kids – predicts Kecman.

New year is also coming, new ambitions, plans, strategies.

‒ For us, every working day has a plan. We work twice a day plus matches. I believe that 2024 is also a year of success, because we have laid good foundations. We will defend the title won in Turkey. We still don’t know where or how, but I’m sure we’ll play a notable role. It is a new generation, but there will also be several basketball players who were in Bursa last spring – added Kecman.

Of course, he also follows the results of the senior “Igokea” team, which has been the best in BiH for years, and is now expected to advance to the ABA league.

‒ We are at the very top, among the three best teams, together with ‘Crvena zvezda’, ‘Partizan’ and ‘Budućnost’, and one has to be satisfied then. Even two clumsy defeats against ‘Cibona’ and ‘FMP’ cannot spoil the general impression, and it is very positive. I must say that the ‘eternal’ rivals are far ahead of the competition and to be right next to them is certainly a great success – concluded Slobodan Kecman, the man who “makes” the players in KK “Igokea”.

And one of those who participated in the celebration in Bursa was Vasilije Kuridža. He has the gold, but he will also have the opportunity to defend it, because he is a basketball player who is only 17 years old (born in 2006), and still plays for the junior team.

‒ As time passes we are more and more aware of what we have done. Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect. We went to Turkey so as not to embarrass ourselves. I won’t say that they are better teams than us, but they really look powerful when you see them, they are truly giants of the Old Continent. We set ourselves the goal of trying to pass the group. We went from match to match, it opened up for us. All of these were uncertain matches, but we won them all in our favour, which only shows that our team also has quality – says Kuridža.

He is aware that it is always harder to defend than to win something for the first time.

‒ We expect a good result this year as well. We played with two or three younger guys, born in 2006, so we will have that experience. We will not hand over the trophy to anyone easily and without a fight – concluded Kuridža.

With this approach, enthusiasm and knowledge, they are true ambassadors not only of their club, city, but also of the entire Republika Srpska, which looks at them with eyes wide open because it expects something similar in the near future.

A good pledge for the joy of playing under hoops……

“Igokea’s” prestigious international tournament

In the first days of September, Banja Luka and Laktaši were the centre of European basketball because KK “Igokea” was the organizer of the International Basketball Tournament, which marked the club’s 50th anniversary. Five days of top basketball with mastery of great aces and teams. In addition to the hosts, the former champions of Europe “CSK” from Moscow and “Partizan” from Belgrade, as well as Turkish “Galatasaray” and “Turk Telekom”, and the team from Israel “Hapoel Jerusalem” participated. Although it was the least important, the first winner of the tournament in the spectacular final that ended with fireworks was the “Partizan” team, which was better than “CSK” (74:54).

The Srpska Times


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