Okay, so it’s not exactly a *war* of words per se, but if the quotebook filling up over at the English-language version of Serbia’s Blic magazine is any indication you needn’t waste time telling Euroleague-eliminated Panathinaikos they’ve got nothing to play for or that the Black-and-White will have an easy time of it at Pionir.
A few choice lines include:
• “We’ll be playing for ourselves, not Partizan.” That’s Nikola Pekovic with the made-for-headline sound bite. And while it’s swell that the team figurehead is showing such élan in an otherwise futile situation, Pekovic may not actually be playing tonight.
• Pekovic assessed that “Partizan deserved their win in Athens and it’s up to us to get revenge in Belgrade. Although we won’t be playing in the quarterfinals, we are still the reigning champions of Europe and we have to live up to our reputation.”
• Ever deft at the diplomatic quote is Dusko Vujosevic with “Although they will be without Pekovic, the Greeks are the kings of Europe and we must respect that. Pekovic is an extremely important player for them and it will make things easier that he is absent. They have lost all chances of qualifying for the next stage, but they will be playing for their honour.” Don’t you think Coach Dusko is giggling inwardly at this absence? Pana minus Marcus Haislip is one thing, but that Pekovic-sized hole is mighty big. Vujosevic is definitely on an NBA-level vis-à-vis the pregame PR game.
• Finally, former Partizan/current Panathinaikos forward Milenko Tepic gets in his compliments and digs: “We know how hard it is to play in the Pionir, the arena which has seen so many giant-slaying moments in the past. This will definitely be a special moment for me on my first return to Belgrade. I will do everything to contribute to Panathinaikos’ win.”
Hey, this one just might be fun after all…