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30 June, 2018
08 July
11 Stefan Vlahovic (MNE)
04/06/2018
News
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Montenegro not going to U17 World Cup as tourists, Vlahovic says

PODGORICA (FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018) - Montenegro may be making their debut at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup this summer but Stefan Vlahovic and his teammates are not heading to Argentina as just site-seers.

Vlahovic led Montenegro in scoring with 16.3 points and added 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals in helping his country reach the final of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 - where they lost against France in front of their home fans in Podgorica but still qualified for their first U17 global spectacle.

"For every player it is a dream to play with best players in the world at their age and to defend the colors of his national team. Personally I am thrilled because in addition to the experience that I will pick up, I will have the satisfaction that will serve as motivation to work more and harder in my career," said the shooting guard.

Montenegro showed that they belong among the elite teams representing Europe as they beat Spain, Italy, Lithuania and Serbia en route to the U16 Final.

"Winning the silver medal at the European Championship showed that we are a generation that believes we will make our country happy many times," Vlahovic said. "That historic success will be our main initiator at the U17 World Cup in Argentina, where we will give all we have."

But Vlahovic, who along with his team have been drawn into Group C with Canada, Egypt and New Zealand, says the team is not going there to just check out the sites.

"Going to the World Cup is a big success for Montenegro, but we will not go there like tourists," Vlahovic said.

And Montenegro will be shooting for at least the Quarter-Finals, he insists.

"GOING TO THE WORLD CUP IS A BIG SUCCESS FOR MONTENEGRO, BUT WE WILL NOT GO THERE LIKE TOURISTS."Vlahovic

 "Maybe I sound immodest, but anything below eighth place for me is a failure," Vlahovic said.

Montenegro will go into the June 30 to July 8 tournament in Rosario and Santa Fe with the confidence of beating many of the best teams in Europe.

"Given the fact that nobody expected we would fight for a (U16 European) medal - let alone reach the Final - gives us a lot of confidence. It is still unfortunate about not winning the title, but I believe that this team can do a lot," he said.

And the players from the team accomplished some big things this season. Jovan Kljajic became the youngest player in history to debut with the Montenegro senior national team during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers and already debuted with Gran Canaria's professional team. Bojan Tomasevic helped Serbian powers Crvena Zvezda to a U19 domestic title. Marko Kljajevic captured the title in the inaugural U19 ABA league with Mega Bemax Belgrade. And Vlahovic played regularly in the EBA in Spain for Baloncesto Sevilla.

"We are all like one … that is the way to success. That a few of us were revelations at the European Championship doesn't mean that somebody new won't glitter at the World Cup. But still, it is good that we all had a successful season."

"MAYBE I SOUND IMMODEST BUT ANYTHING BELOW EIGHTH PLACE FOR ME IS A FAILURE"

Vlahovic

 Vlahovic admitted that he doesn't know much about his Group C opponents but he knows what his team can do.

"I think we have quality to play and handle them. I am convinced that we will be first in the group and then everything is possible."

Though tourism stops are not on Vlahovic's to-do list in Argentina.

FIBA