Credit: Sputnik - Scanpix
Credit Sputnik - Scanpix

Velimir Perasovic has signed a deal with UNICS Kazan on June 29. Winning the EuroCup in 2014 is considered the biggest victory of Perasovic’s coaching career. In 2015, he coached the Croatian National Team.

On Friday, UNICS start the new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. Kazan’s club has strengthened as never before. Among the newcomers, one of the main talents of Europe, Mario Hezonja, the third NBA draft pick O.J. Mayo, three-time EuroLeague champion Andrey Vorontsevich, Lorenzo Brown, Tonye Jekiri, and others.

Perasovic will have to put in work to glue the newly assembled team. Before his current challenges as a head coach, the Croatian specialist talked to BUSINESS Online and revealed his goals with the Russian team.

Asked about why he chose UNICS, Perasovic said he was intrigued by the project, and UNICS’ reputation was trustworthy.

“This is a club with an excellent reputation, one of the best in Russia,” said Perasovic. “In the 2021-22 season, UNICS will compete in the EuroLeague, which was important for me.”

“After Baskonia, I received offers from different clubs, but they were all not from the EuroLeague. I wanted to return to this tournament, so I decided to wait and, as soon as the opportunity came to lead UNICS, I chose it,” he added.

The Croatian international also believes that his squad will challenge the best teams of the EuroLeague.

“Our roster allows us to fight top teams. You could see this in the match against Fenerbahce in the Istanbul Cup, where we played without Mario Hezonja. But, as I said earlier, it all depends on the talent.

Teams such as Real, Fenerbahce, Barcelona have a lot of talent. You can ideally prepare for them, impose a fight on them, keep up level until the very last minute, but in the end, they will have a super performer who will get a victory for his team,” Perasovic said.

He also revealed a very ambitious goal - making the EuroLeague’s Final Four. 

“Of course, we want more than just to reach the playoffs - we want to reach the Final Four. Why not? At the same time, we cannot set ourselves such a task.

You just have to move from game to game. We can only set goals for the next match. Ask all 18 EuroLeague coaches what their goal is, everyone will answer: next match,” Croatian said.

Furthermore, Perasovic revealed his vision of how UNICS should be playing basketball in the upcoming season.

“We want the same thing as any other team: to play aggressively in the transition from defense to attack, to defend well, to rotate. Everyone perfectly understands what kind of basketball is needed to be successful in the EuroLeague, but it is not so easy to place it.

I hope we can do it. I cannot say yet what kind of basketball we will show next season. We’re showing one game now, but if our two newcomers - O.J. Mayo and Jarrell Brentley - adapt and can be useful, it will be a different one,” Perasovic continued.

As he mentioned himself, UNICS strengthened its roster with O.J. Mayo, who played 8 seasons in the NBA. Perasovic said that he understands the doubts around the American guard but also gave arguments for such a choice.

“We needed a player who can create a moment for himself out of nothing, someone who would help the team when the game is not in their favor. Therefore, we were looking for another shooter. We settled on the candidacy of Mayo - an extremely famous player in the NBA.

We understand the doubts because recently, he played in China, Thailand, and Puerto Rico. But we are sure that he can still play at a high level. He is not an old player (33). As we understood from communication with him, he has a great desire to show himself in the EuroLeague. For us, it is very important,” Perasovic concluded.

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