As the founder and guiding spirit behind the Adriatic League, would you tell us how the League came to be?
It became one of the most stable and respected leagues on this territory. In the first years we mostly worked on dismissing obstacles and doubts many had because of a new basketball fusion. We clashed with a lot of obstacles, which was normal. In many places people still had very live memories of war. But regarding basketball there was a huge need for such a competition, basketball was always sport N1 at this territory. We felt we must return it, where it once was. After so many years I can say that this competition got a position, which it deserved. It belongs among the most quality ones in Europe and the proof is also the number of clubs, playing in both European competitions.
What makes the Adriatic League unique?
Personally I am convinced that it is unique mostly because we managed to overcome differences and return under the same basketball roof again. But immediately after this I must expose that we managed to continue the tradition. Our clubs gave numerous important players to the most recognized clubs in Europe and in NBA in the last eleven years.
What is your personal vision as the General Manager of the League?
Currently the world is in a difficult financial situation. Our league is the intermediate link between national leagues and the European elite and that is why our mission is to help our clubs assuring a stable competition in which they will be able to raise new talents. Already in the next season the regional league ABA will reach one very important goal we strived for many years: a Macedonian club will join our competition and afterwards we will have clubs from all six republics of ex-Yugoslavia. In the next years we must also follow the idea how to help returning our basketball ex-giants their old glory: Cibona, Zadar, Bosna are all in a difficult position, Union Olimpija too is not far away…
How did you get involved in the sport of basketball?
Thirty or forty years ago I was playing basketball in my home town Kočevje. Afterwards I left for Ljubljana, where I continued playing for Olimpija but only for a short time. In 90's I was the president of the basketball club Bežigrad, i was the chef of the Slovenian basketball delegation at the men's European Championship 1999. At that time I was also working for Union Olimpija until the last decade, when I moved to ABA League.
Beside basketball - do you have a favorite team that you have always followed?
I am a proud fan in my spare time but mostly the fan of Slovenia. I follow all national teams and I am proud, when Slovenia achieves good results. But I am even more proud, when I see how many great sportsmen and sportswomen Slovenia produces in so many different sports. So yes I am a fan, but more on the national level than on the club's level, which also has something to do with my job. My job as such forces me to follow sport.
Do you have other interests aside from your role as the General Manager of the Adriatic League?
I am also the owner of the Slovenian television channel Šport TV and the honorary consul of Israel in Slovenia. I am never without work - at most the day is too short for 24 hours.
How do you succeed in creating interest when in the Euroleague there are so many strong teams, such as Panathinaikos, Barcelona, Real Madrid, CSKA, and so on?
For our clubs ABA League is the opportunity for playing quality games. Those, who play in Euroleague or Eurocup, need good opponents also in the lower level, for others ABA League is a chance to raise their quality. This is also the reason why ABA attracts fans. If offers good basketball, this season for example four teams from Euroleague and four from Eurocup participated in our competition.
Who do you feel are the five leading players you have seen in your years as the General Manager of the Adriatic League?
Only five of them? This is almost impossible to answer in such way because too many great players marched through our league in the last eleven years. We had players, who started to build their careers in our league, Goran Dragič for example was the MVP player of the week in NBA League at the beginning of April and Nikola Peković is one of the leading players in Minessota Timberwolves, he is also the European club champion from 2009. Years ago Dejan Milojević was a dominant force in the league, a three time MVP of the regular season. We all know who Dino Rađa and Jure Zdovc are and although they played in our league at the end of their careers, I am very proud of this.
This year Maccabi returned to the Adriatic League – how was the connection renewed?
Maccabi was playing in our league already in 2002/03. At that time it had a multi-year contract, which was frozen at the end of the season and as such it could be activated at any time. That is why it was not difficult to come together again last year. The interest was on both sides.
What do you think Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has contributed to the Adriatic League?
We speak about the club, which we always welcome in our basketball family with big joy, but Maccabi too has a lot from this cooperation since it gets the opportunity to play even more quality games during the season. Maccabi is one of the biggest clubs in Europe and can be a role model also to clubs from our league – so from organizing point of view as from the financial one. Those in our league with open eyes and ears had the opportunity to learn a lot from Maccabi.
Are you interested in seeing other European countries join the League?
On principle not. If we would spread too much in countries outside our territory, we must do this to our club's detriment. And I don't want to take this into account.
What do you think about the increase in the number of games that will be played in the Euroleague starting next season (2012 – 2013)?
Although this will be a huge organizing challenge for our club's too, I do support the idea. If clubs want to evolve and keep their quality, they need to play with the best opponents as often as possible.
Are there any special community service activities that the League takes part in?
We tried to include community service activities in out special events, like the Final Four Tournament is. But we realized it is better to encourage these activities in our clubs. They all have multiple events during the season, they try to help hospitals, different associations and societies. We decided for such a policy because we cover a huge territory and from the organizing aspect it is easier to have the community service activities on the micro level not on the macro level.
Can you recall a particular game that was especially meaningful for you?
What I remember the most is the game between Zadar and Crvena zvezda in our first season. The tension was high, emotions and memories from the Balkan war were still very live.