Before filming the show ‘U svom filmu’, which will be shown on Croatian television on Tuesday, January 11, legendary Croatian basketball player Toni Kukoč interviewed with HTV’s Dnevnik.
The three-time NBA champion spoke about the current status of the Croatia national basketball team.
“It’s not an easy question. I’ve been saying a lot lately that our biggest problem is our best players can’t play for the national team. They are maximally exhausted from numerous obligations in the NBA league even when they come. We need to find some formula for the best players to play for their national teams to qualify for the World and European Championships and the Olympic Games. Until that happens, we will have problems. We have quality players, but our five, six best players play in the NBA league. That is our biggest problem. If we played in a full squad and had some continuity, I don’t see that we would have any problems qualifying for the big competitions.”
What can be done to change that?
“In my opinion, this is the biggest problem. We have good players who play significant roles in their teams in the NBA year after year, but we can’t put them together and find some continuity of work here. It is known that national teams that have success in championships and the Olympic Games have a certain amount of real preparation. It used to be three or four months, now it’s hard to expect, but you have to find a month before the championship to do something significant. People can’t get together three days before a tournament and have some results made. This may have been possible before, when you had three, four, or five players who played for the same team, so they knew each other well and knew how and what to do together, and now there are players who play completely different schemes in different teams, and to expect them to be brought to the national team and to click in three days is hard to expect. It is difficult and ungrateful to expect that basketball players can do something like that.”
How do you see the performances of Bojan Bogdanović and Ivica Zubac in the NBA?
“They play great; they have continuity, Utah is third in the West, Zubac also plays great for the Clippers. Bojan is one of the most experienced NBA players, we know what he can give, and he gives it from game to game.”
What does he think of the NBA league then and now?
“It’s different; there’s a lot more shooting now than in our time. However, when you talk to the generations from 50 years ago, they think that they played the best basketball, every generation thinks that they played the best basketball.”
You can see the interview HERE.
To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.