A brief history of the club
Basketball Club Cedevita Olimpija was established in the summer 2019, with the merger of two top-level sporting clubs from our region, Olimpija of Ljubljana and Cedevita of Zagreb. With the merger, the new club has taken over all of the rights and obligations of the old two clubs, that have ceased to exist with the merger and by doing so, it also claimed all of the two clubs’ history, tradition and the trophies of Cedevita and Olimpija.
The history of the newly merged club is dating back into 1946, when a basketball club, that was later known under many names and that is nowadays known as Cedevita Olimpija, was established under the name of Student’s sporting society Svoboda (Freedom). Later on, the club was renamed to Enotnost (Unity) and then to AŠK Olimpija. On January 27th 1955 the basketball players united the group of students and professors from University of Ljubljana to Academic Sports club Olimpija.
In that, time the club changed its name three times. From 1956 to 1960, it was named AŠK Olympia, from 1961 to 1966 AŠK Olimpija and later from 1967 to 1975 as BC Olimpija. In years from 1955 to 1957, AŠK Olympia won the first league title in former Yugoslavia. Club’s great achievement was repeated six times in years 1959, 1961, 1962, 1966 and during 1969/1970 season. In this period, the women basketball section also reached the championship finals.
During this era, the most famous basketball player of the club was legendary Ivo Daneu, who finished his basketball career by winning the World Championship 1970 in Ljubljana, as captain of the team.
In next years, the club was given the name after club sponsors. Therefore, Olimpija was named Brest Olimpija in 1978, Iskra Olimpija in 1979 and Smelt Olimpija from 1985 to 1996. Since 1997 on, until 2017, the club sponsor was Union. Before the start of 2017/2018 season, the main sponsor of the club changed to Petrol energy company. New era of the club started in next years. First foreign players arrived to the club, and management decided to focus on developing young and talented prospects.
In the following years, Olimpija reached its most famous trophy until today. The club won the title of European Cup winners in 1993/1994 season. In 1996/1997 season the team reached the Final Four of Euroleague in Rome, where they took the 3rd place. This is the second greatest achievement in club international history.
After the independence of Slovenia, Petrol Olimpija is winning first places in Slovenian League and Cup competitions. Later on, the Adriatic League started and Euroleague, domestic championship and cup competitions continued. In some of the previous seasons, the club has been competing in 7Days EuroCup and later Basketball Champions League for two seasons.
Many great players left their mark in club history, both Slovenian and foreigh ones and while some of them continued in top European clubs and some of them made it also to the NBA.
With 17 titles of the national champion, 20 titles of the cup champion and eight titles of the supercup champion, Petrol Olimpija is by far the most successful Slovenian basketball club. With all of the success in the international level, the name Olimpija is the most well known name among the World’s basketball fans and experts. This can also be supported by the fact, that next to Crvena zvezda, Olimpija has the most trophies in the Yugoslavian league, when that league was played in the former Yugoslavia. This fact is important, as the Yugoslavian league and the Yugoslavian national team, was one of the best in Europe and in the World at that time.
At the end of the 2018/19 season, that was unsuccessful for the Dragons, since they have achieved only a single victory in the Basketball Champions League and were relegated from the ABA League and stayed without all of the domestic trophies, the new wind started blowing in the basketball of Ljubljana. The merger of BC Petrol Olimpija Ljubljana and BC Cedevita Zagreb into BC Cedevita Olimpija took place on Monday, 8th July, when the Assemblies of both clubs have confirmed the merger of the Ljubljana and Zagreb club. The headquarters of the new club is in Ljubljana and in the cupboards one can find all of the trophies, that BC Olimpija Ljubljana and BC Cedevita Zagreb have won in the past.
The beginnings of Cedevita Zagreb go back into 1991, when BC Botinec was founded by a group of basketball lovers. At the beginning of its existence, it was fighting in the lower-tier Croatian basketball competitions, all until 2002, when it managed to qualify for the top division of Croatian club basketball. The club’s management has set new goals upon itself – to qualify for European competitions and regional competition and to continue to do business responsibly and to build on safe foundations.
The Zagreb side managed to qualify for its first European competition, FIBA Cup in 2003/04 season and it has reached its goal of qualifying for the ABA League in 2009, four years after Atlantic Grupa has become the main sponsor of the club and changed the name of the club into BC Cedevita Zagreb.
All until merging with BC Petrol Olimpija Ljubljana in 2019, BC Cedevita Zagreb was the flagship of Croatian basketball. Between the years 2014 and 2018, its team became Croatian National Champion for five straight times, they have also won seven Krešimir Ćosić Cup titles in total and two Croatian Super Cup trophies. The Zagreb squad played in the ABA League Finals four times and it has won the ABA Super Cup trophy in 2017.
In 2011, Cedevita appeared at the EuroCup Final Four tournament in Treviso and finished third. The Zagreb club played in the EuroLeague for three seasons and in the 2015/16 season it qualified for the Top16 of the elite European competition.
Several great players have worn both Cedevita and Olimpija jerseys. Those are Marino Baždarić, Vlado Ilievski, Mirza Begić, Damjan Rudež and let’s also mention Jusuf Nurkić. In the 2017/18 season, Cedevita was led by legendary Jure Zdovc, who has led Union Olimpija to the EuroLeague Top16 in the 2010/11 season and in 2018/19 season he was back at the Petrol Olimpija bench.
Slaven Rimac became the first head coach of BC Cedevita Olimpija. The Ljubljana club became the perfect example of new era in European and World basketball, where borders do not exist.
Tomaž Berločnik became the first President of BC Cedevita Olimpija, as the President of Petrol d.d. Board, while Emil Tedeschi, the founder and owner of Atlantic Grupa d.d. became the Vice-president. Davor Užbinec became the first Director of the club and Sani Bečirović became the first Sports Director of the club.
The main goal of the newly established club is to become one of the best clubs in the region and Europe and to take care of development and production of young and talented players at the same time. BC Cedevita Olimpija will have two development centres – in Ljubljana and in Zagreb. While in Ljubljana youth categories will remain organized the same way as before, in Zagreb there will be the headquarters of BC Cedevita Junior.
In the 2019/20 season, Cedevita Olimpija played in the 7Days EuroCup, ABA League and ABA Super Cup, Slovenian National Championship and Slovenian National Cup. In the European competiton, the Dragons finished the competiton after the Group Stage, and in ABA League and Nova KBM League, the competition was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the 2020/21 season, Cedevita Olimpija will be playing in the 7Days EuroCup, ABA League, Nova KBM League, Slovenian Cup, and Slovenian SuperCup.
Ivo Daneu is not only a legendary basketball player of the Ljubljana club, we can easily write in addition to his name that he is considered one of the best Slovenian, European and world basketball players of all time.
He himself does not like people to call him a legend, because he is supposed to become a man when he is no longer alive, but the recognitions and awards speak for themselves. He won as many as eight medals in major competitions. In 1970, he won the first gold medal from the World Cup in front of Ljubljana fans in Yugoslavia. Three years earlier, he won a silver medal with the Yugoslav national team at the World Cup in Uruguay, where he was also chosen as the most useful player in the championship.
He has won so many awards and won so many championships in his career that many basketball players are sure to envy him. But Daneu is a favorite Olympic silver medal from 1968 in Mexico.
Interestingly, Ivo’s first love was not basketball. As a child, he wanted to play tennis, and as a child he also loved to play football, but when he received a ball in his head during one of the training sessions, he devoted himself only to orange leather. He started his basketball career in Maribor, and his great talent took him to Ljubljana after graduating from high school in 1956.
With his height of 184 cm and exceptional motor and shooting ability, he played as an organizer and defender. Ivo has been almost completely blind to his right eye since birth, despite being among the best in throwing to the basket.
After graduation, he decided to play for the then club AŠK Olimpija. For the first year in Ljubljana, he became the champion of the former common state of Yugoslavia. He has won six state championships in fourteen seasons of playing for Olympia. He played as many as 209 international matches for the Yugoslav national team and competed in three Olympic Games, three World Championships and six European Championships.
He ended his basketball career in 1970 with the title of national champion with the Dragons and the title of world champion with Yugoslavia. Ljubljana was breathing for basketball at the time, and Ivo, as the captain of the national team, triumphantly lifted the trophy for the best in the world in front of the home crowd. Daneu watched almost the entire championship from the bench due to a muscle injury on his right leg, but when it was time for the Yugoslav national team to win the match, selector Žeravica knew who to turn to. Daneu entered the game in the last minutes of the clash with the United States national team and scored two decisive baskets, with which he secured a gold medal for Yugoslavia.
Interestingly, Daneu always found a way to step on the floor. Not even a higher power stopped him. Thus, at the European Championships in Belgrade in 1951, Ivo missed a bus with players on the day of the match, which was supposed to take the team to the hall. Bus nowhere, match in a few hours. Ivo simply called a taxi, but when the taxi remained crowded on the road, Daneu simply ran to the hall. Ivo entered the game without warming up.
It would be very interesting to see which of the current basketball players of any club or national team would do the same today.
In the almost seven seasons that Marko Milić spent in the Ljubljana Dragons jersey, Kranjčan became one of the most popular Slovenian basketball players of all time.
Only someone can forget the many attractive moves that Marko Milić took care of in the legendary Tivoli Hall, and which still take your breath away today when you watch the footage. Air Milko, as he was nicknamed in his playing days, was not only a basketball player, he still celebrates today as an exceptional man who fills the space he is in with his positive energy in an instant and never leaves you indifferent.
The legend of Marko Milić started on the Kranj basketball courts, and through Triglav his path led him to Ljubljana, and as the first Slovenian basketball player he also jumped into the NBA League, where he first wore the Phoenis Suns jersey, and was previously on the North American league. as the 34th selection selected by Philadelphia. In the United States, he was even nicknamed Milky Way.
In his career he has played for many famous clubs such as Fenerbahce, Real Madrid, Fortitudo Bologna, Virtus Bologna, Scavollini Pesaro, and in the last years of his career he has also tested himself in Iran and Kuwait. He finished his sports career in 2015, and at that time his jersey with the number 12 was retired at Olimpija.
He won the title of Slovenian national champion four times (1995, 1996, 1997, 2008), and was also the Slovenian cup champion four times (1995, 1997, 2000, 2008). He played five times in the Slovenian All Star game, and was twice chosen as the most useful basketball player of the all-star game (1997, 2000). With Real Madrid, he became the Spanish national champion in 2007, and in 2014 he also won the title of Kuwaiti national champion with Al Kuwait.
In the 1996/97 season, he was part of the team of the then Smelt Olympia, which finished the Euroleague competition in third place in the final tournament in Rome. Milić scored 17 points in the match for third place with Asvel, and he also marked the match with an exceptional goal in the second and a half minutes of the match, as ‘Air Milko’ took care of the broken board with a powerful score. Organizers needed more than 20 minutes to replace it.
Ljubljana and Slovenian basketball fans, and last but not least sports fans, will certainly remember Marko Milić the most after the exceptional kicking at the Slovenian Basketball Day, when he jumped over the car. It was 1995, and Milič first jumped the engine in a packed Tivoli on March 4, then a Hondo CR-X in the finals of the hammering competition, and the hammering went around the world.
Another interesting fact: Milko got the car in permanent ownership, but before that he had to pass a driving test, as he was only 17 years old at the time of the dunk contest.
OSVOJITEV NASLOVA EVROPSKEGA POKALNEGA PRVAKA
Tuesday, March 15, 1994 will remain in the history of Ljubljana and Slovenian basketball as the date when the then Smelt Olimpija in the finals of the Saporta Cup or In the European Cup, she defeated Taugres with 91:81 and ensured the greatest success of Slovenian basketball at that time.
On March 15, 1994, the Ljubljana club achieved one of the greatest successes in the history of Slovenian basketball in Lausanne, Switzerland. With an exceptional game in the second half and excellent Roman Horvat and Dušan Hauptman, who together scored as many as 63 of Ljubljana’s 91 points, in the end the then Smelt Olimpija defeated Taugres with 91:81.
The main hero of the match was Horvat, who scored 10 throws for three points on the way to 36 points, six of them in the second half. Success in Lausanne was just the tip of the already excellent season, in which the Dragons won everything that could be won.
At that time, there was an exceptional atmosphere in Lausanne, which Slovenian fans knew how to create.
“I don’t remember how many fans gathered in the hall in Lausanne at the time. There were already a lot of them at that time, and there were even more of them in Ljubljana when we returned to our homeland. We were given a reception at the airport, then in front of Halo Tivoli, and the feeling is still amazing today, “said Horvat, adding:” The best memory is definitely that these people still remember when they meet you on the street. . They still remember every event, every move, there was simply euphoria in Slovenia at that time, because everyone lived for Olimpija. We played home matches at that time in the Tivoli Hall. Fans were waiting for tickets for the then Horse Burger. ”
Images of fans in the Olympic Hall in Lausanne will forever be remembered by all Slovenian basketball fans, and people all over Slovenia simply fell in love with basketball and the Ljubljana club in the 1990s. The architect of Olympia’s greatest successes and one of the best European coaches of all time, Zmago Sagadin, also remembers this very well.
“In those days, we had a large group of fans traveling with us by bus all over Europe. Really crazy how big a group we had, and it was made up of both the Green Dragons and some businessmen. Ljubljana got a top sports team, and if you didn’t follow it, you were pushed away or cut off from society. That is missing today. Unfortunately, there is currently no Ljubljana club on the sports map of Europe that would represent this city with dignity. I hope that the floor has been achieved, and that with a project like Cedevita Olimpija, this story and everything will be able to go up, “says Sagadin, and at the same time mentions what he remembers the most:” I like the most the reception in front of Halo Tivoli remained in memory. There was a real madhouse. Already at the airport, and then in the city, it was crazy. At that time, I really felt that most of Slovenia was following our story, and the response was fantastic. For me, it was an obligation to work even harder, as I saw that we had a huge amount of fans, and that people accepted basketball as their own. Cheering people up on a weekly basis is a very big commitment. ”
Horvat and Hauptman were the most playful in the final match, and at that time they also made sure that the Dragons simply destroyed everything in front of them.
“We played quite a few matches, although not at this level. The tremor was amazing. At the beginning of the match I hit a few throws, then I missed a few, and when I saw that Zmago was preparing a substitution, and that Razić would enter the game instead of me, I quickly hit two more throws for three points. The day was great. You have the feeling that the ring was huge, because I just couldn’t miss it, “Horvat recalls of the final in Lausanne, adding:” The most important thing is that the team acted as it should in that match. The result then came of its own accord. We won the European Cup. ”
The greatest success of the Ljubljana club was celebrated by Cedevita Olimpija on December 1, 2019, when the Red Star mts hosted the Arena Stožice, and the banner with the championship title from 1994 will forever hang under the ceiling of the Stožnica beauty.