How do you say “sour grapes” in Macedonian? In looking for reasons for his side’s loss to Team Dominican Republic in Olympic qualifiers, Vlado Ilievski sounded off on FIBA organization itself.
“Teams from South America had more time for preparation,” Ilievski is quoted in FYR Macedonia-based Dnevnik. “They played in continental championships and were [in sync]. We had players whose seasons ended on June 15. I was injured and I was with the team for just 10 days. How can you prepare in such a short time? This is no excuse for losing, but at least we tried. We had a chance to become the first team from Macedonia to play in the Olympics and so we are disappointed. If we’d won, we would have had two more chances, but life goes on. Thanks to this generation [of players], the world knows about Macedonia…”
Ilievski was not alone in his concern about this year’s international schedule. Recall how LKL and PBL officials shortened their leagues’ seasons to provide potential Team Lithuania and Team Russia players some downtime before hitting the road to London. (Maybe it’s no coincidence these two sides will play Olympic ball, eh?) FYR Macedonia’s domestic league, in which six national team players were active in 2011-12, ended on May 2 – plenty of time for these guys at least.
Plus, BallinEurope hasn’t heard any griping from Team Greece, a side surely equally as shocked as FYR Macedonia in the qualifiers and given an equally (short) time to gel with key players on hand. So maybe things weren’t exactly properly done in Lithuania, but if Greek League officials had similarly shortened the season, wouldn’t Team Greece be booking tickets to London now?