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Maric stays in the big time with Panathinaikos

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Aleks Maric, the Australia international who made his first appearance at a FIBA World Championship this summer in Turkey.

A former standout center at Nebraska in American college basketball, the 2.11m Maric didn’t have the best of starts in professional basketball when he played in Spain’s ACB in 2008-09.

He averaged just 12 minutes per game in 32 appearances for CB Granada.

Life changed dramatically when he moved that summer to Partizan Belgrade.

Maric didn’t just play for one of the most respected coaches in Europe, Dusko Vujosevic.

He also got a chance to compete in Europe’s elite club competition and put together a magnificent season at Partizan to earn All-Euroleague Second Team honors.

In the summer, Maric moved to Panathinaikos.

In his first Euroleague game with his new club last week at Power Electronics Valencia, Maric only played 10 minutes yet still hauled in nine rebounds and scored five points.

The 26-year-old could be ready to turn in another dominating performance in the Euroleague.

He spoke to Jeff Taylor.

Aleks, it’s early in your career at Panathinaikos but how are things going so far?

Maric: It’s a big move. When you come to a club like this, there is always an adjustment period. I’m very glad to be here, though. The season’s rolling and I’m looking forward to a big year.

You are playing for a man now that is universally regarded as one of the all-time great coaches in Europe, Zeljko Obradovic. Can you feel what makes him special already?

Maric: Yes, definitely. Just coming into this team, the euphoria of games and practice. His presence makes a big difference.

You also got an opportunity to play for a great coach last season in Dusko Vujosevic (current CSKA Moscow coach) when you were at Partizan. You’re doing a good job picking your coaches.

Maric: (Laughs) Yes, I got really lucky. Vujosevic and now Obradovic – I couldn’t be happier.

At Panathinaikos, there are so many good players and that could mean a reduction in minutes over the course of the season. How do you cope with that as a high-level player?

Maric: Well, in Partizan, we played like a team and I just happened to stand out. I got lucky. It wasn’t me, but the team. That’s how it is here. We compete as a team.

Remember when you played here in Spain with Granada? Why didn’t that work out well?

Maric: I just didn’t get an chance to play much. I went to Partizan, an opportunity was given to me and I grabbed it with both hands. I took advantage of it.

How would you describe the crowds that watched you play when you were at Partizan?

Maric: Amazing (laughs). Amazing.

This summer marked the beginning for you at senior level with Australia when you played in Turkey. Now that it’s been several weeks, how do you evaluate that experience?

Maric: It was good. Playing for one’s country is always a good experience. It was the World Championship and there was no bigger stage apart from the Olympics.

You’ll play for the Boomers again?

Maric: Hopefully. We’ll see how the season goes and how my body goes.

FIBA

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