Nebojša Čović – Industrial Magnate / Basketball Fanatic

 

Arena #2, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

For those of you following my blog, our team won the grand final game against Gimnasium Milos Crjnanski by 2 points and were crowned CEESA champions for 2009-2010. More on this later. I am blogging about today is the basketball machine called FMP.

Saturday we played the final games of the CEESA basketball tourney at “Basketland” which is a wonderful basketball/steel factory facility. Above is one of the two gymnasiums on the basketland grounds. We took the tour of Basketland and between the two gymnasiums are the assembly lines and warehouses for making metal products like aluminum cans, silverware, etc. This combination of factory and basketball training center is the vision of the owner of FMP (Fabrika Metahl Proizvoda), Nebojsa Covic.

When Covic bought the basketball club ILR Zeleznik in 1991, they had folded due to the increased cost of competing in the higher leagues in Serbia. They started out as a neighborhood (Zeleznik is a large suburb of Belgrade with about 20,000 inhabitants) team that played their games outdoors in the 1970’s. They eventually got better, but could not afford the costs of maintaining the team in a higher division.

Covic has made KK FMP into the third Belgrade basketball team after Red Star and Partizan. They do well in the NBL, or Adriatic Basketball Association. Note that the KK stands for kasorka (Serbian for basketball) klub. The strength of the club is its youth program. Covic has several basketball complexes in Zeleznik and they really develop great players. On Saturday, a group of 14 and 15 year olds were practicing in the other gym. One of them had to be close to 7 feet and was dunking with ease.

FMP is represents for me, Serbia’s serious approach to basketball. I can see why there are so many Serbs in the NBA and European leagues. They just play a lot and many of them are very tall. The neighborhood also has a lot of Communist era block apartments. This combination of beautiful basketball facilities surrounded by industrial and grey ugliness impresses me.

The Factory Grounds of "Basketland"

All of the CEESA teams had a fantastic final day at Basketland. With four games, it was an orgy of basketball and the great facilities. Thank you Mr. Covic.

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