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Nikola Vucevic – a great father & son story

March 9th, 2011 · No Comments

With the Pac-10 Conference tournament starting tonight in Staples Center, Los Angeles, it is time to take a look at the history of Nikola Vucevic and his family that was highly successful in sports. The games of the Pac-10 tournament might be his last ones in College Basketball as the Montenegrin forward is still not decided if he stays for another year at USC or if he will declare for the 2011 NBA Draft. Find out about the great sports tradition in Nikola’s family and how he literally survived one of the biggest dramas in his country.

Nikola Vucevic comes from a real Basketball family. His father was a professional basketball player, his mother was a professional basketball player and his uncle is still an active professional coach. With such a background, it is certainly interesting to dig a bit in the history books to check where the current USC Junior comes from. With our Serbian friend and journalist Djordje Matic, we went back to the beginning of the Vucevic dynasty and see where Nikola got all his talent from.

Nikola’s father Borislav “Boro” Vucevic was a member of the famous Bosna Sarajevo team that won as first former-Yugoslavian team the European Cup of Champions, the predecessor of the current Euroleague. In 1979, the team coached by Bogdan Tanjevic managed to beat Emerson Varese from Italy 96-93 in front of 12,000 spectators in Grenoble. The team featured current Power Electronics Valencia head coach Svetislav Pesic but also players like Mirza Delibasic, Ratko Radovanovic, Zarko Varajic or Emir Mutapcic. Check the video below to see some moments of that game and the return back home of the team to Sarajevo.

After that superb triumph, Boro continued to play for Bosna Sarajevo and won two more National Championships of Yugoslavia and crossed the road of many of the European stars of the 80s and 90s. One of them was the Croatian superstar Drazen Petrovic in a final that was for the history books. In 1983, Bosna Sarajevo coached then by a young Svetislav Pesic, played Sibenka Sibenik of the 18-years old Petrovic and it was Nikola’s father who scored the last points for his team in the Final with a jump shot 15 seconds before the end. However, this game was really special because Drazen Petrovic could not score his last shot attempt on the buzzer and ss the game looked already done, one referee decided to give 2 free-throws to Petrovic anyhow as he estimated that he got fouled on the last shot attempt and that it has been before the buzzer. Petrovic scored both of them, lifted the trophy but later on, the federation decided that the referee was wrong and scheduled a new game on neutral court. Sibenik decided not to come to play this game and Bosna Sarajevo earned the title. You can check the dramatics in the videos below.

The 3rd game in Sibenik with the decision in favor of the Croatian team
The analysis of the Federation and the tip-off of the deciding “game” on neutral court

Borislav stayed in Sarajevo until 1987 and left then for Switzerland to play for Lausanne. During his third season with the Swiss team, his wife Ljiljana gave birth to their second child, Nikola. After two additional seasons in Switzerland, the young family travelled to Belgium where they settled down for 10 seasons. While Nikola was growing up, his father was dominating the Belgian League and even earned a Belgian passport in 1998. He finished his career as player when Nikola was 12 years old. Boro tried himself out as an Assistant Coach for his brother Savo who was back then Head coach of the Belgian team of Spirou Charleroi. Savo was not such a great player as Boro and after a knee injury, he became a referee in the 1st Yugoslavian League. He is married to the former Yugoslavian National Team handball player and Olympic Gold Medalist Ljiljana Mugosa (she is the aunt of the 93 born Montenegrin prospect Marko Mugosa) and started coaching in France in 1990 for the women team of AS Bondy.

The Vucevic family decided to move back to Montenegro in full effect when Nikola started to go to High School in their hometown of Bar. The small city of around 40,000 people on the Adriatic coast is known for its old town Stari Bar but also as being the birth place of current Boston Celtic Sasha Pavlovic and the 2002 Dallas Mavericks drafted Mladen Sekularac. In this environment, Nikola started to play basketball for the local Mornar Bar team where his father coached him. In 2006, the youth team of Mornar Bar was in the Montenegrin mountains to practice but when they took the train back to their hometown, something disastrous happened as the train crashed near the town of Bioce. 45 people died but Boro became a hero as he could save lots of kids from his team including his son Nikola from the smashed train.

After that season, Nikola left his home country to move to the United States for the Stoneridge Prep School in California from where he got recruited by the University of Southern California. From there, the nearly unknown forward (he was never selected to play for Serbia-Montenegro Youth National teams and only made his first international appearance in 2009 for the U20 National Team of Montenegro), managed to improve step by step to be named First-Team All-Pac-10 and Fourth-Team All-America today. The next step might now be the NBA.

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