Serbia, I'm returning to you after 20 years: Kokoskov's emotional words upon becoming head coach
The Sacramento Kings assistant coach and Eurobasket gold medal winner with Slovenia reveals reasons for taking over as Serbia's head coach
Igor Kokoskov is the new head coach of the Serbian senior national basketball team! After successful negotiations between President of the Basketball Federation of Serbia Predrag Danilovic and our basketball expert who has been working in the NBA for almost two decades, an agreement has been reached for Kokoskov to take over the national team of Serbia.
A great honor for the whole family
New head coach Igor Kokoskov stresses the great satisfaction at having his wish to lead Serbia from the bench come true.
"This appointment is a great honor for my family and myself. I am fortunate to be able to lead the national basketball team of Serbia as the head coach. I know very well how much people in Serbia love and support the basketball team.
Also, I am well aware of our performance standards that have been built over the past generations by players and coaches. Our fans' expectations from the national team have always been high, and the ambitions of the players and coaches are always at the highest level. I am very aware of that. Every basketball coach in this region dreams of becoming the head coach of a national team.
My main motive for accepting this job is precisely the strong personal 'emotion' and the desire to finally return to where I started from - Serbia - after 20 years of working in the NBA and more than ten years of working in FIBA with other national teams.
In that sense, for me becoming the head coach of our national team is a professional task that cannot be compared to any other sporting challenge so far."
A team is built on creativity and skills of its players
"The details of our contract are no secret, but it should not be a priority for the public at this time, just as it was not a priority for me when I signed.
My coaching thinking is based on the fact that every successful team, above all, is built on creativity and skills of the players of that team.
In Serbia, we've never been in short supply of basketball talent. Therefore, my job as the head coach will be to prepare the players, help them and make decisions in the best interest of the team.
Players I've worked with so far know that my view is that 'the team's success always belongs to the players while coaches take the responsibility'."
Emphasis on domestic players due to FIBA window
"Two stages await us in the upcoming competition cycle: two matches in February's 'window' as part of the qualifications for the upcoming European Championship and the qualification tournament for the Olympic Games, in June in Belgrade. Given that Euroleague and NBA players will not be able to participate in these 'windows', the emphasis will certainly be on those players who will be free during this period.
Although we live on different continents, today, in the 21st century, a century of technology, I know that I will now be spending most of my free time at my computer watching matches in Europe and on the phone contacting our players and my associates. It will be nothing new to me in this line of work...
Lastly, I would like to thank the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) for their trust and determination to work with me. I would also like to thank the entire Sacramento Kings organization for supporting me to, in addition to my daily NBA duties, also be with the Serbian national team.
What I can safely promise is that I will put all my experience, knowledge and energy into the service of the national team with the desire to achieve the goals that lie ahead," said Igor Kokoskov.
KSS thanks Vlade Divac and the Kings
KSS President Predrag Danilovic pointed out:
"We are extremely pleased that such a quality expert and one of the best Serbian coaches will sit on the bench of the Serbian national team in the future. Igor is the best solution to the challenges that lie ahead, as qualifications for the European Championship and the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games await us, and clearly our primary goal is to secure a place in both competitions.
Many thanks to the Sacramento Kings, especially to Vlade Divac, for their assistance and understanding in the hiring of Kokoskov by the KSS, which is very important for the entire Serbian basketball team. I will soon meet with Igor in America, where we will discuss the details of our cooperation and the plans for the upcoming period," said Danilovic.
"Serbia's national basketball team will be based, above all, on our best players who are able to respond to the call and who want to wear the jersey of the national team. My first task will be to make initial contacts with all potential national team players."
Kokoskov is the only non-American coach to have been the head coach of an NBA team in the history of the strongest basketball league in the world. He began his international coaching career when he went to the US for professional training in 1995.
A few years later he became the first assistant coach from Europe at an American university, in Missouri. He got his first NBA job as the assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the first non-American coach in an NBA club. For 19 years of his NBA career, he has worked as assistant coach in Detroit, Phoenix, Cleveland, Orlando and Utah. Last season he was the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, also making history in this way, to in the summer join the Sacramento Kings as assistant coach.
Kokoskov has already worked with our national team as assistant to Zeljko Obradovic in 2004 and 2005, to then three times as head coach take Georgia to the European Championship - in 2011, 2013 and 2015. He became European Champion in 2017 as the head coach of Slovenia.
The new Serbian head coach will be available to the media for any questions upon his arrival in Serbia.