The Slovenia Times

Another very tough season



Last season was quite successful. In the Euroleague, Union Olimpija achieved the set goal of reaching the last 16. In the Goodyear League they participated in the Final 4 in Zagreb but lost their semi-final match against the home team Cibona. The only real disappointment came in the Slovenian Cup final in Maribor, when Olimpija lost the game against Pivovarna Lasko in overtime. They had the home court advantage against Pivovarna Lasko in the best-of-five final series of the National Championships. After a very close win in the first game in the Tivoli hall (82:77), they then destroyed Lasko 79:57 for a key away win. The Green Dragons' fans stormed onto the court and celebrated the victory with the players, who received the well-deserved cup from Dusan Sesok, the president of the Slovenian Basketball Federation. Ten days after the final, the club's president Andrej Lah and the team director Gregor Fric, announced that Saso Filipovski had been reappointed as the coach for the 2004/05 season. It was also announced that the young and up-and-coming star Saso Ozbolt had signed a new contract and that key players Marino Bazdaric and Vladimer Boisa would be staying with the club. All three will start training with team after completing their obligations with the national team. Unfortunately Robert Stelmahers, Dzenan Rahimic and Simon Petrov have left the team. Stelmahers, the Latvian playmaker, was a very important player during his two seasons with Ljubljana. Marko Maravic wanted to extend his contract but club was unable to offer him enough money, so he will now play for Armani Jeans Milan in the Italian premier league. The fourth season of the Goodyear League starts on October 6th with 16 teams, 5 from Serbia & Montenegro, 5 from Croatia, 4 from Slovenia and 2 from Bosnia-Hercegovina. Slovenia will be represented by Union Olimpija, Pivovarna Lasko, Geoplin Slovan and Helios Domzale. In the opening round Pivovarna Lasko will meet Union Olimpija in the major Slovenian derby. Union Olimpija will also represent Slovenia in the elite Euroleague competition. The games will be played in the Tivoli hall that hosted the European Handball Championships in January and the European Gymnastics Championships in April. The team from Ljubljana found themselves in group B after the draw for the first stage of the 2004/05 Euroleague season. This pits them against Scavolini, Barcelona, Zalgiris, Siena, Maccabi, AEK Athens and the defending champions Maccabi Tel Aviv, an enormously tough group. The first five teams and the best-placed sixth team will progress to the round of 16. The Final Four tournament will be held in Moscow in May, 2005. It is unlikely that the Tivoli hall will have enough seating for all the spectators on November 11th, when the famous Spanish champions Barcelona will come to Ljubljana. One of the main goals of the club this year is to stabilize the club's financial situation. The club had debts of almost EUR 3 m in July 2002. Team director Gregor Fric, is very satisfied with the 12 main sponsors who all resigned sponsorship deals with the club for this summer. The club's biggest wish is that it can fill the Tivoli hall again this season, because last years slow start meant that many seats were left empty.


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