Photo from Euroleague

 

Svetislav Pesic is not a man to wince his words, and the new (and old) German national team coach has set some high goals for Deutschland while also making some heavy demands to the German clubs and hinting that Dirk Nowitzki will call to ask to play again.

“We made the best coach with Svetislav Pesic,” said German Basketball Federation President Ingo Weiss at the official presentation of the legendary 62-year-old coach as new boss of the German national team on March 6 in Berlin.

Pesic has a long storied history with German basketball, coaching the national team from 1987 to 1993 when he guided Germany to the 1993 European Championship title at home. He then moved onto Alba Berlin and won four German league crowns, two cups and the 1995 Korac Cup.

Pesic took over the Yugoslavia national team and won the 2001 European Championship and followed that with the 2002 World Championship crow a summer later. Pesic in 2003 guided Barcelona to the treble of Euroleague crown, Spanish ACB triumph and Copa del Rey. Among his other titles was the 2007 Eurocup crown with Spanish side Girona.

“It is not easy to find a coach with the qualities of a Svetislav Pesic. Not even for Germany,” said Pesic himself at the press conference.

“I always need a new challenge and the contact to the DBB was never severed. Basketball is my life. I am not a painter and don’t write books. I always am thinking about basketball.”

The confident personality, who still holds his main residence in Berlin and still is spotted at Alba Berlin games, has laid out some lofty goals, the first of which is to qualify for EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia. The qualifying campaign begins in August 2012 and Germany’s group includes Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Sweden.

“After the qualification we will analyze things: What we did good? What are our new goals?” said Pesic, who only signed a one-year contract with the DBB but has an understanding to coach the team until 2016.

“Qualification is not enough for me. I would like to see who bears the responsibility for the development of the national team in the future.”

Pesic made no secret that he wants to lead Germany to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The top six teams from EuroBasket 2013 qualify for 2014 in Spain – though it would be only five teams if Spain or another European team wins the 2012 Olympics.

“We want to have a team that can win but also has perspectives,” said Pesic.

But the long term goal is the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. However, in order to do that, Pesic said Germany must continue and even intensify its investment in the youth development program. Pesic will soon sit down to talk with Germany’s top youth national team coaches – Frank Menz of the U20 team, U18 coach Kay Blümel and U16 coach Harald Stein.

But all the talking in the world will not get anything done according to Pesic, who is calling for German players to get playing time.

“The Bundesliga without German players is like salt without soup. The most important thing is trust, trust, trust. I know German basketball from the past 25 years. One thing hasn’t changed: players must play,” ordered Pesic.

“We have talented players, but you can only transfer talent into quality when you play; when you bear responsibility for your own development and for the results of your team … Not only to the coaches not believe in German players but the entire world.”

Pesic said the German BBL’s past foreign regulations hit the country’s development very hard, adding:  “That’s why we had a hole from 2005 to 2009. German basketball lost an entire generation.”

Germany’s first ever NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki is obviously still a huge topic for German basketball fans, who have yet to hear from the Mavericks star if he will retire from the national team.

Pesic told the press conference that he had not talked to Nowitzki but said he is not counting on the 33-year-old for the EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers.

“He should really recover, mentally and physically. He should concentrate on his job with the Mavericks,” said the German boss.

But Pesic wouldn’t be Pesic without interjecting a bit of confidence: “When Nowitzki sees that the new team has quality, team spirit and has developed, that he can experience something positive with the national team, then he will call himself.”

Not all things are rosy regarding Pesic, however. One glaring issue is that he is still coaching Red Star Belgrade with a contract until 2013, which he plans on fulfilling before becoming a “24-hour” German national team coach.

It was this exact double-burden that the German BBL wanted to hinder when they instituted the rule that the German national team coach could not be a BBL at the same time. It caused Dirk Bauermann to step down from his position with Brose Baskets Bamberg in 2008 to remain solely the German coach. Bauermann was effected a second time last summer as he had to choose between the Germany job and remaining with Bayern Munich – deciding in favor of the newly-promoted BBL team.

BBL CEO Jan Pommer was not amused with the fact that Pesic will hold both positions, telling the German news agency dapd: “There is enough work. It would be preferable if Pesic were to solely deal with the national team.”

Pesic, for his part, will have to initially depend on reports on players from the DBB sports director Peter Radegast. But the coach would like to have two assistants – one a coach from the BBL and the other one of the DBB youth coaches.

The BBL coach mentioned at the press conference was 1993 European champion and former Alba Berlin captain Henrik Rödl, under contract with BBL club TBB Trier until 2013.

“I would be happy about that,” said Pesic about Rödl being an assistant.

But current BBL statutes do not allow German assistants to be BBL coaches either.

Rödl said it would be great to coach with the national team. But saw two obstacles to joining his former coach on the sidelines.

“The (BBL) rule prevents that,” Rödl told the website 5vier.de.

And then there was the time he would be away from Trier.

“In the summer I would miss three weeks in the preparations for the season. I can’t imagine how that would work. It’s rather unrealistic.”

Pesic has often gotten what he’s wanted. But it will be interesting to see how much the BBL plays along and how much more Pesic can get out of the young German talent.

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