In 25 season of Leopards basketball, there are probably two season that stand out. The 1996/7 BBL league and National Cup double campaign and the 2011/12 NBL treble winning season which saw Dejan Mihevc’s teams win the Division One league and play-off titles as well as lifting the National Cup . It’s impossible to compare the two, but in the first of what’s hopefully a series of interviews with former Leopards’ coaches, we caught up with Dejan and he kindly answered a few questions
How did you come to work at Barking Abbey?
I got an invitation from Barking Abbey academy director Mark Clark to come and work for them. We arranged a visit for two days where they introduce me their programme. What I saw, I liked it a lot, so my decision was not hard.
You’d mainly coached juniors ,did you find it difficult with the number of senior players you’d recruited at Leopards?
No, I never had problems with that. Before I also had experience working with seniors for six years as an assistant Coach in the top Slovenian league, which helped me for sure. And also in the end it is only basketball and they are all players no matter the age 🙂
After a poor start to the league season, did you ever think that the team wouldn’t gel?
No, never. We worked hard and well and we had good chemistry in practice so it was only a matter of time when the result will come. I think that result came later, because we had a new and very young team.
What were your thoughts during that weekend in Bradford where we were hammered one day and won in the cup the following afternoon?
For me there are three things. First one is or you learn or you win. Second one is that you can not change the past but you can have influence on now. And the third thing is that only think about the next thing and be stronger than you were yesterday. We were doing a lot on mentally based on this beliefs and also our focus was ready for that final.
Your memories of the National Cup final?
These are great memories! You can imagine that it is still a special one, because at the end of the day it was my first trophy. What I like a lot is because we were really all together like family, the whole team, organisation, fans…
And the play-off weekend?
Wow this was a special one for sure. Already being in Manchester was a great thing, but winning it in a way we did it was really big. It was very exciting and full of emotions weekend,. just like the way it should be:)
Your best signing for Leopards?
I never preferred one player, but they were all special and they all gave something to the final puzzle. I liked that team a lot and working with them was fun and pleasure. They were a great group of very competitive individuals that formed a great team.
Best moment with Leopards?
There are a lot of moments that I can remember, but for sure making such a run and winning all the trophies is unforgettable. But what I would really like to point it out are people in and around the club, They were great! They made me feel like home and my stay there special.
Worst moment with Leopards?
I really do not have bad moments. Up sorry there is one. When we run out of petrol on a highway at two in the morning on Sunday coming back from a game . Otherwise the whole journey and the whole experience there just made me bigger and better. But it is also not really a bad moment; it is more like one of anecdote.
Would you like to have stayed for a second year?
Yes off course! I had a great time there and specially if we would go to play BBL, what was an option that club was considering would be a good challenge.
Anything you want to add?
I would like to thank once again to all the people in and around the club for being on that journey together and to help making unforgettable memories. I would also like to wish everyone to stay healthy in this times and that everything will go back to normal so we can enjoy sport again in full experience.