Men’s basketball: Life only has meaning as long as you dream – Stojan Ivkovic

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2023.03.01. 09:32
According to the national team head coach, Hungarian men's basketball is not ready for participating in the World Championship yet
Coach Stojan Ivkovic, who managed the team that finished fourth in their group, is sad due to now qualifying for the World Championship. On the other hand, he is very satisfied with the players' attitude.

– A great victory was achieved on Sunday in Szombathely. Did the team play as usual or did they have to come up with something special against Bosnia and Herzegovina?
– We changed a few things – said the Hungarian national team's head coach, Stojan Ivkovic, the day after the 87-77 win. – It was important that we had a meeting because I felt we lost our intensity due to the lack of training and having new players. Everyone understood the need to maintain order, discipline, and hierarchy. I am very grateful that this was seen on the pitch. In terms of tactics, Ákos Keller played a 5-on-4, and we defended as usual and adapted to the characteristics of the opponent's players. We also got into duels, and I'm especially pleased that all five of our players reacted to rebounds.

– Do you consider the fourth place in the group to be realistic, a bravura, or do you feel something was missing?
– Seeing our opponents in the beginning, if someone told us that we'd finish in fourth place, I would've accepted it. We could talk about what if we won here or there, what would've happened, but let's be honest: Hungarian men's basketball is not ready for participating in the World Championship yet, and it doesn't have enough players. We are now in the top 16 in Europe, but our realistic position is between the 22nd and 26th place. At the same time, we should never be fully satisfied; we have not achieved our main objective of qualifying, and I am sad about that. Though the attitude of the players and the newcomers was good. It is obvious from the matches of both the men's and women's national teams that there is a special interest in the sport in Hungary, and the fans came out to the arena in Szombathely, even though we did not play an amazing match. There were a lot of basketball players missing from the last two matches whom we didn't mention while the matches were going on because we didn't want to have excuses. Those injured players are getting better, and I hope that Dávid Vojvoda's case will be resolved soon, and then we can clarify who played what role in the whole thing.

Ádám Somogyi played steadily against both Lithuania and Bosnian. You joked with him several times in Klaipèda, so are you two close now?
– I get along with all the players. Ádám Somogyi is a professional athlete and is extremely deliberate, therefore, he doesn't need any help. Talking to him openly has helped him break the communication barrier, so we have been able to develop a normal relationship.

– The generation born between 1995-1997 is strong and of a great age, but not many of the younger generation is knocking on the national team's door. Can you help with this situation after taking over the U20 national team?
– No, it's just an experiment. I'm curious to see what a generation that hasn't achieved anything can do when you take a slightly different approach. Long conversations will be necessary to make all the players understand that the big assessments are useless when the basics are lacking. It is abnormal to teach players in the national team.

– Will the senior squad meet before the Olympic qualifiers in August, or will the summer meeting be next on the schedule?
– We will meet in mid-July, around the sixteenth, and we will start training after the U20 European Championship Division B. Sixteen teams will play in the qualifying round, and two will advance. Qualifying for the Olympics is a dream like qualifying for the World Championship, but life only has meaning as long as you dream.

– You've said many times that this team has more or less reached the peak of its abilities and limits. Nevertheless, can we hope that the squad will remain a stable participant in the European Championship?
– If we are not there, I will no longer be the coach. I don't expect us to qualify for the World Championship, but I do expect it for the European Championships. Our system works, and it's recognized everywhere; our opponents can overcome us physically only. The guys are talented, we are together as a team, and as I always say: when Hungarians are together, they are very strong, but when they fight against each other, that's an issue.

Translated by Vanda Orosz

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