Slovenian fed's president bashes Serbian clubs, explains Doncic's fight with refs



Slovenian Federation President Criticizes Serbian Clubs and Breaks Down Doncic’s Confrontation

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In a recent interview, Matej Erjavec, the President of the Slovenian Basketball Federation (KZS), expressed his concerns about the financial backing provided to Serbian clubs, Partizan and Crvena Zvezda, by the Serbian state. Additionally, Erjavec shed light on the reasons behind Luka Doncic’s contentious relationship with referees during the 2023 FIBA World Cup and revealed that certain administrators at FIBA Europe shared apprehensions about officiating standards.

Slovenia, often a favorite in international basketball competitions since Luka Doncic gained worldwide recognition, faced a challenging 2023 FIBA World Cup campaign. A string of injuries hindered their progress, preventing them from securing direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. As a result, Slovenia now has to vie for a spot in the prestigious tournament through a qualifying event. However, Slovenia is not among the four nations selected by FIBA to host these qualifying tournaments.

Erjavec explained the primary obstacle in Slovenia’s path, citing a substantial financial burden. He stated, “By the end of November, in less than two months, we should have paid 2.3 million euros in registration fees. It is impossible for the basketball association to pay so much at the moment, let alone all at once.” Consequently, Erjavec suggested turning to the state for financial support. However, he acknowledged the unfavorable timing given the country’s focus on post-flood infrastructure and home reconstruction.

Luka Doncic’s interactions with referees have been a recurring topic of discussion. While Doncic has acknowledged his need to address his temper, Erjavec, who also holds the role of Vice President at FIBA Europe, expressed support for Doncic’s grievances. He noted, “Some of us [in FIBA Europe] are quite nervous about refereeing. The fact is that the World Cup was not officiated by the best referees in the world. And speaking of Luka – he is substantively right.”

Erjavec clarified that Doncic’s status sometimes prevents him from receiving the calls he deserves, presenting a contrasting perspective. He explained, “He overreacted, but he’s right. If you look at the videos – at every first step when driving against a player, the defender helps himself with his hands. This is a personal foul. Either they should change the rules, or they should follow the existing ones.”

Furthermore, Erjavec stressed the impact of Doncic’s play on the game and urged a reevaluation of refereeing criteria. He revealed, “Luka is so dominant on his first step. The first foul is when he’s stopped with hands, then for the second foul, he goes by someone and puts him on his back, and only the third foul is whistled when he’s already on the ground.”

In recent years, the Slovenian national team has become increasingly reliant on Doncic, given the decline in the level of club basketball within the country. Erjavec pointed out the financial disparities between Slovenian clubs and their Serbian counterparts, Partizan and Crvena Zvezda, due to state backing. He emphasized, “The difference is in the finances. Because the state or state sponsors are behind both clubs, they can afford players like Frank Kaminsky, Kevin Punter, Mike Tobey… You can’t compete with that.”

Erjavec expressed a desire for similar state support for Slovenian clubs but recognized the impracticality in today’s sporting landscape. He stated, “It would certainly be in the interest of the federation because you have to have a leading club. Last but not least, then there would be more representatives here, young people would not leave… But that is unthinkable.” He concluded by acknowledging the unlikelihood of state financing for clubs, not only in Slovenia but across the European Union.


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