It is official, Denver Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone joined the Serbian national team as a part of the coaching staff. The Serbian basketball federation confirmed this news last night.
“Head coach of Denver Nuggets, confirmed earlier today that he would join the Serbian basketball team during the upcoming Olympic’s qualifying tournament held in Belgrade next summer. After the end of the playoffs, coach Malone will come directly to Serbia and join the coaching staff,” wrote in the official statement of the Serbian basketball federation on its website.
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Главни тренер Денвера Мајк Мелоун уз репрезентацију Србије! Главни тренер Денвер Нагетса Мајк Мелоун је данас потврдио да ће се прикључити кошаркашкој репрезентацији Србије на предстојећем Олимпијском квалификационом турниру који се одржава у Београду. По завршетку плеј-офа НБА сезоне тренер Денвера Мелоун ће се директно прикључити репрезентацији Србије и стручном штабу. Фото: https://www.nba.com/nuggets/ #kss #reprezentacija #Srbija
This means that Nikola Jokic and Malone are going to continue their cooperation outside Denver Nuggets, and also, that the Serbian national team aims at the highest possible result at the Olympics in Tokyo.
According to the various sources and analysts from Serbia, Malone’s primary role will be to maximize Jokic’s potential in the national team, and also helping the head coach Igor Kokoskov with improving the overall quality of the crew.
Serbian team suffered a slap in the face at the recent FIBA World Cup after suffering elimination in the quarterfinals against Argentina. It was considered one of the greatest failures in the history of this nation, and the former head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic immediately resigned from his spot.
Later on, Sacramento Kings’ assistant coach Igor Kokoskov took over the leading role, and at the moment, the Serbs are regrouping and doing everything in their power to prepare in the best possible way for the Olympics.
Among other things, bringing Malone was one of the main priorities of the federation, as he knows the best how to use Jokic.
Serbia defeated Team USA in the battle for the fifth place at FIBA World Cup, but that win wasn’t a big consolation for not getting the gold medal. Djordjevic was accused of not utilizing all the NBA potential he had at disposal, and that he required his team to play a bit slower, not focusing on the attack, but instead defense.
Also, he wanted all the players to equally share minutes, instead of relying upon the best ones throughout the entire tournament.
It is why Predrag Danilovic, the former Miami Heat, and Dallas Mavs player, who is now the president of the basketball federation, strongly agitated that Kokoskov becomes the next head coach of the national team.
Before taking over the Phoenix Suns, the 48-year old led Slovenia to a gold medal at EuroBasket, by pairing Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic and displaying one of the most dynamic and attractive performances ever seen in Europe.
Malone’s presence there will definitely help, as once the NBA Coach of the Year has a lot of experience in not only exploiting Jokic but also in other areas. Denver prefers an efficient basketball, with lots of movement, and it is safe to say that both Malone and Kokoskov have a similar philosophy of play.
The situation for Serbia demands that they first win the Olympic’s qualification tournament, where they meet the Dominican Republic and New Zealand in Group A. Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal are in Group B, which eventually crosses path with the previous one.
That shouldn’t be a big problem for this crew, especially since they play at home. However, the Olympics will be quite a challenge for the coaching duo, with USA, France, Spain, and many more teams coming with their strongest squads.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.