Credit: AP - Scanpix
Credit AP - Scanpix

Seeing the European and world basketball elite in Belgrade is real proof of value. Gregg Popovich watched the semifinals of the EuroLeague in the company of Zarko Paspalj, Dejan Bodiroga was seen in the front row, and three-time European champion David Andersen arrived to make big business steps for the further development of basketball in Australia.

Among all these famous basketball people, there was also the President of the European Players' Association (ELPA), Bostjan Nachbar.

Former Slovenian player spoke to Mozzart Sport about the talent in European basketball, the problem of the disappearance of a large number of children in the transition from juniors to seniors, the difficult schedule of European basketball, and the phenomenon of Luka Doncic.

Nachbar came to Belgrade not only to watch the Final Four games, but he also took the time to see the biggest talents in front of him playing in the Adidas Next Generation Tournament (ANGT) finals.

"There are always interesting players, especially in this final tournament of young generations. It's great here, I've just talked to some people, and I say that we haven't had the opportunity to play international club tournaments like this," Nachbar stated. 

The Slovenian sees a lot of interesting young prospects who will join the biggest clubs in the nearest future.

"There are a lot of talents, of course. I think that in the next few years, they will have a regular place in their club, if they do not, of course, go the other way. [I mean] to college or the NBA draft. They have talent, basketball is at a very high level," he added.

The former Slovenian basketball star agrees that the transition of talented players from junior to senior basketball is always a difficult thing. Many simply disappear, and everything that has been built over the years is lost.

"I think it's because many young players at the age of 17, 18, or 19 have reached the top level in recent years," Nachbar noted. "Again, their lack of patience. Everyone would like to be the main players of their clubs from 17-18 years of age, to play in the EuroLeague or the NBA."

"Some of them become players at 18 years old, some at 23-24. But in general, it is a big problem.

The second problem is from the EuroLeague. A player rarely goes through a complete system and plays in the EuroLeague. There was a situation where one part dropped out, and the other part immediately went to the NBA draft," he added.

Nachbar thinks that the situation in European basketball is chaotic.

"Viewers are confused, and that is a big problem. Too many competitions, matches, and until FIBA and the EuroLeague agree on the most important things, there will be no solution," he shared his thoughts. "This is not my idea, but only a suggestion - that only European competitions be played in one part of the year and domestic championships in another."

"After nine or ten months of constant playing, the boys are dead tired, and the national team is waiting for them. And so it goes back for years," continued ELPA president.

Although there are more games in NBA, the former forward thinks that the EuroLeague season is much harder than the NBA.

"If we go back to some of my stories from before, the EuroLeague season is much harder than the NBA. It is true that in the NBA, you have 82 games packed in six months, and there are many trips.

However, if you do not make the playoffs, you are free since April, and you have five or six months to rest well and prepare for the next season. In that interval, you have time to work on all the minor injuries, to work on yourself to be better, you enter the season fresh," Nachbar pointed out.

He also considered the influence Luka Doncic, and Goran Dragic made on Slovenian basketball.

"They raised basketball in Slovenia to a whole new level. Basketball has always been popular in Slovenia, now everyone who doesn't follow knows the players.

It used to be completely different, those who love basketball really follow. It was not like that with our generation.

We have a chance to win EuroBasket again with Luka. He is such a good player. He is one of those whose appearance makes others play beyond their means. Therefore, every team where Luka plays will be serious, a candidate for a medal," Nachbar concluded.

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