Thursday, 20 May 2021

KK Split Stays in ABA League 1!

May 20, 2021 - KK Split leaves Sarajevo without a chance in the final relegation game for the ABA League 1 - 90:60 (47:26).

The third game of the ABA League had to bring the final decision after Spars Sarajevo surprised everyone with a close victory in the series opener at Gripe last week to put Split under pressure. The Yellows then had to win in Sarajevo on Saturday to keep their chances alive for another season in the 1st division. KK Split did tie the series with a strong appearance and followed up by winning the opener of the national playoff semi-finals on Tuesday against Cibona Zagreb.


All eyes were on Spars' coach Modrag Kadija and his young talented squad to see if they could come up with a strategy to pull it off one more time against Split's large and experienced roster as a highly favored side. Big man and rising star Kenan Kamenjaš had to work hard for his 11 points tonight. 


In Sarajevo and against Cibona the Yellows had massive support for their inside players from their outside shooters who displayed excellent marksmanship and pulled the opposite defenders far out of the zone to give the big men more space to play one on one. 


Today it was team captain Mateo Kedzo who decided the game already in the first half by scoring 13 points in only 7 minutes and 23 seconds without missing any of his attempts. 

The experienced leaders Kedzo and Ulić gave the team the necessary self-confidence which they had lacked in game one. 


With the large lead at half-time, Split coach Mile Karakaš was able to rotate all his players through in the second half and the team did not lose any tension. Split's talent Perković, Bajo, and Čampara kept scoring for the favored team to further increase the lead.


The team was able to apologize for last week's loss to veteran Toni Kukoč who was honored before the game after having been nominated to join the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this week. 


Not being able to close the series in two games now puts the Yellows into a tight schedule, however. The second game in the national semifinals will be played in Zagreb tomorrow. The hosts objected to giving Split an additional 24 hours to rest. Quite a remarkable show of sportsmanship or better the lack thereof. But with Split having gained this much momentum during the last 3 games, it may well prove to have been the wrong approach by Cibona. The game will start at 18:00 at Dražen Petrović Hall.

Referees: Saša Pukl, Sašo Petek, Mario Majkić


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Saturday, 15 May 2021

KK Split Dominates ABA Relegation Game in Sarajevo

May 15, 2021 - An 84:64 (39:35) away game victory for Split brings the decisive final ABA relegation game back to Gripe. 

The relegation series between the Yellows from Split and Spars Sarajevo remains undecided. After the surprise loss at home on Wednesday, KK Split kept its chances alive to play in the first division of the ABA League again next season.

Many news agencies did not hold back with negative reports when KK Split, with one of the biggest purses, if not with the biggest budget in the Croatian league, failed to decide the first game at Gripe in its favor. Having club legend Toni Kukoč witness the loss in one of his rare visits to his former home gym was called a disgrace or even a slap in the face. 


Today coach Mile Karakaš was able to motivate his team to strike back and leave no doubt that this mini-series is not over yet and has shown clearly why it was the favored team, to begin with. 


Spars Sarajevo was merely able to compete with the Yellows in the first quarter. At the end of ten minutes, they were up by 18:17 before Split shifted gears and pulled away to 39:35 at half time and then increased the lead to 58:51 by the end of the third quarter.


Sarajevo was not able to find any way to counter and was shown its place by Split. The guest team outscored the hosts with 26:13 in the last ten minutes to tie the mini-series at 1 victory each. 


Pavle Marčinković was able to play again for Split after missing the last game due to injury, and Marin Marić was able to show his importance under the basket. Spars' rising star Kenan Kamenjaš scored 16 points and was tied for the top scorer position with his teammate Nedim Buza and Split's Marin Marić. The decisive factor, however, was the accuracy the Yellows showed from beyond the 3-point-line. 15 of 32 attempts found their target for an impressive 46.9% success rate.

The final game to decide who gets to play ABA League 1 next season will be played at Gripe in Split on Thursday. 

Referees: Milivoje Jovčić, Radoš Arsenijević, Aleksandar Milojević


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Thursday, 13 May 2021

Sarajevo Surprises Split in First ABA Relegation Match

May 13, 2021 - Split could not use home-court advantage against Spars in the 70:76 (46:49) defeat in the first ABA relegation match on Wednesday. 

Jugoplastika veteran Toni Kukoč was present on the VIP stands and witnessed a bitter defeat for his former team in the battle to stay in ABA League 1. The guest team Spars from Sarajevo was able to take away the home-court advantage and could already finish this mini-series with another win at home on Saturday. The team to win two games first will get to play in ABA league 1 next season; the other team will play in the 2nd division.

The Yellows from Split ended up playing in the relegation because their impressive run ended abruptly when they had to take a Corona-break from games and practices just before the end of the season. The previous success that came with new coach Mile Karakaš lost steam, and eventually Split lost their positions in the national league and in the ABA league. While recapturing the second position in the national league, they fell to the last position of the ABA League 1. With Primorska already having withdrawn from the league earlier, the Yellows' did not drop out of the league directly. Still, they had the right to play relegation against the runner-up in ABA League 2, which turned out to be Sarajevo.


Spars Sarajevo had just lost the championship in Division 2 of the ABA league against Studentski Centar Podgorica. After the regular season, they had qualified for the finals as runner-up. Then Spars lost the two final playoff games against Studentski Centar, who then qualified directly for ABA League 1, while Spars kept the chance to play the relegation games against Split.


The game was conducted under Covid measures, and KK Split had a better start into the game. Sarajevo coach Miodrag Kadija saw his team fight back and take control of the second part of the first quarter and most of the second quarter to secure a slight 46:49 lead at halftime.


Both teams returned eager to fight this game till the last second, and the second half became an intensively fought defensive battle. Just 90 seconds before the final whistle, Split scored for 70:71 that put them in reach of victory. What followed was a wild back and forth where both teams lost the ball several times. The Yellows couldn’t turn the game around and had to watch Lithuanian Orelik Gediminas hit a three-pointer to seal the visitor’s victory.


Sarajevo’s rising star Kenan Kamenjaš was the top scorer and most valuable player of the night with 19 points. Should Split manage to win in Sarajevo on Saturday, the final game would be played in Split again.


Box score: 

Referees: Miloš Koljenšić, Igor Dragojević, Radoš Savović

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Friday, 2 April 2021

KK Split Basketball Coach Mile Karakaš: "For Me, it's Not a Job, it's Love."

April 2, 2021 - TCN contributor Burak Canboy sits down for an interview with KK Split coach Mile Karakaš.

The wait for the next game continues for KK Split as a new case of Corona on the team means the cancelation of the national league game in Gorica on Saturday. The rescheduled ABA league game against Krka will probably also need to be canceled again, and it is not even clear when the next game will be played.

Mile Karakaš was the head coach of the Split junior team for five years. He was the U16 Croatia national team coach, which won the gold medal at the U16 FIBA EuroBasket 2018. Since February, he is the head coach of the ABA League team KK Split. He took the time to give us an interview during this unusual time. 

First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You must be having a very chaotic time now after you had one of your players test positive for COVID 19 a few days ago. How does a case of Corona on the team affect the routine exactly?

I cannot say too much about that as it is still not a clear situation. We had a case of Corona on the team before the Krka game. Unfortunately, it has spread out, so we are not sure how we will be able to play the remaining games and the postponed games in time. The Gorica game has now been postponed. Maybe the Krka game will also be postponed again.


There is no daily routine right now. All I can tell the players is to stay at home and to stay safe. We wait for answers from epidemiologists, crossing fingers that there will be training possible again. Now we already had 5 or 6 days without practice and hoped to start again. On Tuesday night, we received the test results, and we have another positive player. I can only give out individual programs for the players so that they will be in shape.

How do you feel about working in sports during Corona, especially comparing your work to people in hospitals working overtime and restaurants and other places being closed?

We all are thinking mostly very selfish and about ourselves first and tend to forget that it is not easy for everyone. There is constant stress that many people have to deal with.

After the first blow of staying at home and total cancellation of sports, at least something is happening right now, but it is not normal work. However, compared to other people who depend on tourism or work in bars and restaurants and are laid off and let go, we are still the lucky ones. We can’t even compare ourselves to people working in hospitals now. We really are still fortunate to be able to do our work in sports. 

You have taken over a team that had just lost the final of the Krešimir Ćosić Cup, was deep in the relegation of the ABA League, and had only won 1 game of 10 in the ABA league since the middle of November. After taking over the coaching position from Ivica Skelin, your team has won all 7 games in the National League and 2 of the last 4 games in the ABA League. What has changed with you as a coach?

I cannot talk about the coach before, only about myself. First, I talked to all the players and people in the club about all kinds of things but especially about the emotional situation that everyone was in. We tried to evaluate what was working well and what was not working well. Additionally, to change the things that did not work, I tried to put in my own ideas. However, that was not easy because I never had any time to introduce something big. We never had more than 4 days between games, so most practices can only be used for regeneration or preparation of the next game.

I believe that all players have to be ready and will all have their opportunity. Everyone has to understand their role on the team. In Doc Rivers' words, “be a star in your role."


Ten players can not all have the most minutes and the ball all the time. When all understand that then good things happen.

I still want to play faster, but it cannot be all done at once. With more time, the team will understand more of how I would like us to play.

How much time do you have for that? Can you share the length of your current agreement?

I only have a contract till the end of the season.

Would you like to continue next season?

Of course, I want to continue after the season. At this point, we are only thinking about this season. I have the most respect for clubs that allowed their head coaches to work for long periods of time. For example Bill Belichick [NFL New England Patriots, since 2000], Alex Ferguson [Premier League, Manchester United 1986 to 2013], Greg Popovich [NBA San Antonio Spurs, since 1996]. I cannot compare myself to these iconic trainers, but my dream is to have a lot of time to work like they were. I believe that is the best way for a club as it allows for long-term success.

What are the management’s goals for this year?

The goals are to stay in ABA 1 league and to win the national league. These were not presented as hard goals to me, like "either you do it or we need to find someone else for next season," but that clearly is everyone's expectations. 

Assistant Coach Srđan Subotic was also a candidate as the new coach of the team. How does it feel to be working with someone who may have ambitions himself to take over your job someday in the future?

In the first meeting with Srđan and Ante [Marović] I asked them quite clearly if they have any problem working with me. They confirmed that they want to help me, the team, and the club. Without them, it would not have been possible to achieve the success that we have. They helped me tremendously because they know the team much better than I do. I have no problems at all with them and do not think twice about their opinions and recommendations.

When talking to your former teammates and coaching colleagues, you are described as a person who dedicates himself to the sport of basketball with all his heart. You have proven that you are a great coach winning the gold medal with the U16 Croatia national team at the U16 FIBA EuroBasket 2018. What made you choose to start playing basketball, and what made you decide to make it a profession?

It was my Dad. He truly made me fall in love with sports. I have great memories of sports in Yugoslavia. We were always going to all the Jugoplastika games with Rađa, Kukoć, Perasović, and so many others. Also, we went to Hajduk games, but it was more basketball. 


I especially remember how the national team with Drazen [Petrović], Toni [Kukoć], and Dino [Rađa] played the final against USSR with Sabonis [1988 Olympic Games Seoul].

After finishing High School, I went to study kinesiology. At the end of the playing career, I had an opportunity to work as a coach in Trogir. And a serious level of game or money was not in sight as a player. At that time, I was not very ambitious, but with time, I really loved it and realized I am actually quite good at it and always received great feedback from the players and club managers.

It never felt hard for me to work as a coach. I can spend 6 hours in the gym, and it does feel like seconds. I have done many jobs. You name it; I have done it. But those things were only jobs to pay for bread, not making me happy. Being a basketball trainer, for me, it's not a job. It's love.

Even though as an adult player, you have played in the close vicinity of Split. Adriatic, Solin, Mislav, Alkar, Kaštela, and Trogir after being a youth player at KK Split. How did it feel being asked to work in the same gym again in which you have spent so much time growing up?

It was a great honour because somebody recognized my work in Adriatic and Trogir. It was Dino Rađa who asked to become an assistant coach to Burić. It was financially a tough time with a very insecure future of the club. At that time, I was living from the paycheck, and my job at Adriatic was pretty safe, but my wife asked me if I was crazy to even think about it twice. She convinced me that it was a great opportunity and regretted it later if I didn’t take that opportunity. Of course, she was right. Everything turned out great, and here we are now. 

During the game against Mega Belgrade, Roko Leni Ukić was the top scorer. He is only two years younger than you. The same as team captain Mateo Kedžo. What is the biggest difference between working with a U16 player versus coaching players that are probably already thinking about what to do after their active playing days?

There are many different players, but kids under 16 are looking at you like a god. They have their own opinions, but they will not push that like Roko or Kedžo. You need to have a different approach. I don't want to sound arrogant, but it is easy for me. I was a player myself, even not on a high level, but I understand what a player thinks and wants. At all times, the best approach is to be honest and open.


I don't see any situation that can happen where I will not know what to say. It is important to care for them and to respect them. If they feel that, they will give the respect back.

Most foreign readers at Total Croatia News may not know about basketball in Croatia, especially basketball in Split. What would you like them to know?

I am not sure if they will hear about basketball in Split for the first time, but they should know that Jugoplastika Split was named the best team of the 20th century by FIBA.

The team was 3x consecutive European Champions and won several cups and national titles in Yugoslavia.

This region is specific; people are crazy and stubborn, only titles count. Even if compared to other cities, it is a small town; they expect large success here.

Think of greats like Toni Kukoć, Dino Rađa, Goran Ivanisević, Blanka Vlasić. Nobody will stop them and ask for an autograph. Even though they think it's nice to see them, they will mostly treat them like "who to hell are you."

But great success doesn't come just talking about it; you have to go day by day and game by game.

So far, KK Split has won just one Croatian championship. Hopefully, this year, we will win one more.

Good luck with that; I hope your players will soon recover to continue that quest, and many thanks for this interview!

You are very welcome. Let me know anytime you want to hear more. 

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Thursday, 25 March 2021

Coronavirus Slows Down KK Split

March 25, 2021 - The next three games in ABA and Premier leagues have been canceled

The Split basketball team has been hit by a case of COVID-19. The club's press speaker Ozren Marsić confirmed that one player tested positive on the senior team. KK Split canceled tomorrow's ABA league match against Krka in Novo Mesto and the HT Premier League matches at Adria Oil Škrljevo on Sunday as well as the Sonik Puntamika home game on Tuesday. 

After winning 9 of their last 11 games, this is quite a blow to the team of coach Mile Karakaš. Following the ABA league victory against Mega Soccerbet Belgrade, the "Yellows" were successful in the HT Premier League twice. The overtime victory in Šibenik on Sunday was followed by a 77:74 home win against Zabok on Tuesday. 

Hopefully the infected will recover quickly and can return to full speed as soon as possible. In the meantime, the club is waiting for the epidemiologist's instructions.

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Friday, 19 March 2021

KK Split Celebrates Impressive 74:65 (42:40) Upset over Mega Soccerbet Belgrade

March 19, 2021 - KK Split continues to ride a wave of success in the ABA league!

It has only been 4 weeks since coach Mile Karakaš took over his position on the sidelines from Ivica Skelin but what a difference he has made so far. Before today’s game, the Split basketball team was to be looked for somewhere in the middle to bottom third in the tables of their competitions.


Burak Canboy

However, a fresh wind is sweeping through between the walls of Sports Center Gripe lately. In the Croatian Premijer Liga, the team from Split has risen to the second rank behind Zadar and with this evening’s 7th win in the last 9 games, they have made quite a statement in the ABA league.

This week the ABA league was all over the news after dismissing three referees for their weak performance during Saturday’s Cibona-Buducnost game. KK Split however created some good news today and promoted the sport with an impressive upset against the highly favoured team from Belgrade. Mega Soccerbet Belgrade had decided the first meetup of the two on December 6th with 91:75. The topscorer back then was Filip Petrušev with a dominating 31 points.


Burak Canboy

The “Yellows” plan however was to ignore Belgrade’s top scorers’ performance and concentrate on keeping all other players from getting into the game. Not only did they succeed in keeping the guests at 65 points but they also were able to contain Petrušev to 22, while Roko Ukić was able to put in 29 points for the winning side.


Burak Canboy

The game was close for most parts and both teams were keeping the other at arm’s length. While the guests from Serbia were clearly better when it came to field goal percentage and rebounds they failed to score from the perimeter. Only two of 22 3-point attempts were successful. The hosts on the other hand sank 12 of their 32 attempts and were able to enforce 21 turnovers while only losing the ball 11 times themselves.


Burak Canboy

After a close first half, both teams picked up the intensity during the third quarter, and during the fourth quarter Split made the decisive shots and was able to lock down Belgrade to 8 points. The victory allows them to take a deep breath and gives them hope that they will be able to leave the fight against relegation very soon


Burak Canboy

ABA League 

20210319 16:00 

S.C. Gripe

KK Split Mega Soccerbet Belgrade

Results by Quarters

Q1 24:30 Q2 18:10 Q3 18:17 Q4 14:8

KK Split

Top scorers:

Ukić R. 29

Luković M. 16

Đoković I. 11

Marčinković P. 9

Coach: Mile Karakaš

Mega Belgrade

Top scorers:

Petrušev F. 22

Simonović M. 15

Jović N. 10

Matković K. 6

Coach: Vlada Jovanović

Referees: Sašo Petek, Uroš Nikolić, Bojan Kruljac

Full Boxscore available HERE.

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Monday, 11 January 2021

Biggest Victory in Croatian Basketball History: KK Split Celebrated 125:59!

January 11, 2021 - An incredible result for KK Split, which celebrated thanks to a 66-point lead in their game against Hermes Analitica on Sunday, earning them a spot in Croatian basketball history. reports that the day after they topped Podgorica team Buducnost with a three-pointer in the ABA league, the KK Split basketball team achieved an unreal result in the Croatian Championship.

In the 17th round match of the Hrvatski Telekom Premier League, Split defeated Zagreb's Hermes Analitica at Gripe with an incredible 125:59 result.

The 66-point difference is the biggest victory in the history of basketball competitions in independent Croatia. The previous record was held by Cibona when they defeated Dona 104:43.

Since the games were played one after another, i.e., KK Split had only 20 hours between the ABA league and HT Premier league, coach Ivica Skelin gave more minutes and a more significant role to talented young players from the Split basketball school and those who are not usually part of the strongest starting five. They certainly proved that they earned their spot among the best.

Roko Gizdavčić scored 19 points, and Ivan Perasović 13. The most effective for Split was Toni Perković with 24 points and Darko Bajo with 22.

Roko Leni Ukić, who returned to Split this week, still does not have the right to play in the domestic championship, and apart from the injured Marko Luković, Pavle Marčinković did not play either.

Dalmatinski Portal reported that this is Split's most convincing victory in history compared to other rivals in elite competitions. When this club was called Jugoplastika, they defeated Lesonit from Ilirska Bistrica with a score of 95:32 in 1965, and five years later, they were more successful than Maribor 122:63.

In the 1985/1986 season, Jugoplastika topped Pristina with a score of 133:74, and then in the Champions Cup in the 1989/1990 season, they defeated Scottish team Livingston 122:65.

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Saturday, 12 December 2020

PHOTOS: KK Split Brings Back Jugoplastika to Basketball Jerseys

December 12, 2020 - KK Split brings back Jugoplastika to their famous yellow jerseys this season in place of a team sponsor.

KK Split announced on Friday evening that their jerseys would once again display the Jugoplastika name, after the general sponsor, the company Tommy, did not extend the contract with the club. Until further notice, the yellow jersey of the Split club will bear the name of the famous Jugoplastika, which was the European champion for three consecutive years and became the European basketball dynasty of the last century.

'Jugoplastika' is placed on the new jerseys under the Split club name. Because the club used to be called Jugoplastika Split, the positions on the jersey were arranged differently. Former Croatia national team goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa was among the first to pose with the jersey.

"Given that the contract with Tommy, which has been our general sponsor for several seasons and which we thank for their cooperation, has expired, KK Split has decided that until further notice, in honor of the club's 75 years and three European titles, the name Jugoplastika returns to the jerseys. As a sign of respect for the most glorious days in the history of our club, we are returning that name to the jersey, to the place that is reserved for the general sponsor of the club," the club announced.

In the last decade, some unhappy locals have tried to eradicate the Jugoplastika name for political purposes, reports

The cult Jugoplastika mural was even overwritten in Split, the release of the club's anthem from the '70s was banned at Gripe, and almost none of the legendary line-up attended the celebrations for anniversaries, ceremonies, or gatherings after being named the official best European basketball team of 20th century.

Not long ago, Dino Rađa and Božo Maljković came to Split to present the book about Jugoplastica. Although they had invitations, most of the others did not show up, and some of them even confirmed their arrival. After the mural was taken down in Split, Rađa said: "Unfulfilled poor people, you disgust me."

Jugoplastika was the European champion in 1989, 1990, 1991, and then played under the name POP 84.

The club was officially named KK Split in 1997 and has been repeatedly saved from bankruptcy by various maneuvers and hybrid combinations, classic for clubs in Croatia. After the termination of cooperation with Tommy, the club will face new challenges, and until then, it will bear the name of the club from which they originated.

KK Split has entered the new season solidly and is holding on to ninth place out of 14 clubs after playing nine regional ABA league games.

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Split To Play The Champions League?

FIBA invited the best European basketball club of the 20th Century to participate in the next season of the newly established Champions League

Monday, 8 May 2017

Money Talks: Zagreb Basketball Teams Win In Dalmatia

In the first leg of the Croatian Basketball League semi-finals, Cibona won in Šibenik, and Cedevita beat Split

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