The ongoing financial crisis in Europe has claimed its first victim in the basketball world in 2012: KK Hemofarm Vrsac officials informed players Nikola Otašević, Alexei Nesovic, John Maras, Mladen Pantic, Marko Šutalu and Mladen Jeremic that they could now consider themselves free agents – though they’re reportedly welcome to stay aboard – as the club dissolves like its Adriatic League chances in a pool of financial problems. Rumor has it that the team’s main sponsor has pulled its financial backing as well.
Most recent departures from the club include coach Zeljko Lukjić, who resigned his position yesterday, and Galatasaray addition Boris Savovic.
The perhaps soon to be renamed Vrsac is currently mired near the bottom of the Adriatic League table, tied for 11th of 14 teams with a record of 5-12 after the disastrous nine-game losing streak leading to Lukjić’s departure.
The news marks quite a blow for a club that has enjoyed some fantastic success since the millennium turned, with a 2004-05 Adriatic League championship and a second place finish in 2007-08; a silver medal in the 2000-01 Korac Cup; three seconds in the Serbian Cup tournament; and five appearances in the Serbian league finals, including back-to-back showings in the past two seasons.
While indicative of the general financial problems affecting professional sports in certain European nations, fans cannot be happy with another step back in what some see as a general devolution of Serbian basketball.