Serbia: KSS Appoint Duo // 03.04.2007
From Darko Nikolic, Belgrade

Serbia's basketball bosses have named FMP Zeleznik Beograd boss Vlada Vukoicic and Hemofarm's Miroslav Nikolic as the new coaches of their Under-20 and Under-19 national teams.

The Serbian Basketball Association (KSS) expert council - made up of national team coach Dragan Sakota, Partizan Belgrade boss Dusko Vujosevic, KSS director Predrag Bojic and youth director Zarko Varajic - decided on the two appointments.

Vukoicic's young Panthers side are one of the country's most exciting teams to watch, and as well as winning the National Cup in Radivoj Korac this year, reached the semi-finals of the ULEB Cup in March. Last season he won the Adriatic League title.

He said: "There is quite a lot of a time until the U20 European championship starts, but since our team will be trying to defend the title won in Turkey, it's obvious even now that all of us face a serious task."

The title he mentioned came when previous incumbent Nikolic's squad brought success to Belgrade last year when they defeated hosts Turkey in a thrilling final.

Nikolic, meanwhile, will this time be tasked with raising the hopes of Serbian basketball, as the U19 team will host this year's FIBA U19 World

He said: "I thought I would be given a chance to defend the U20 title, but this new task the KSS gave me certainly isn't a step backward in my career.

"I know we are coming towards the elections in our Basketball Association and that there is some speculation that a new management could decide to give chances to other coaches, but I'm prepared for everything and always ready for new challenges."

Nikolic won the national title with Partizan in 1996/97, and then two in a row with Buducnost in the following years, so he knows the secret of

As assistant to the senior national team he won gold medals at the World Championship in Athens in 1995 and at the European Championship in Barcelona in 1997, as well as silver at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and bronze at EuroBasket 1999 in France.

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