Mornar's Lukovic dreams of family reunion in EuroLeague

Dec 14, 2018 by David Hein, Print

Uros Lukovic has already played and won a title with his brother, and he fulfilled a long-time dream of playing for Partizan NIS Belgrade. But the Mornar Bar big man's ultimate highlight would be to play in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with his brother Marko in Partizan black and white.

7DAYS EuroCup fans are getting their first glimpse of the 29-year-old Uros Lukovic this season, and the 2.10-meter center is showing the same excellent consistency as throughout entire career. Lukovic currently ranks second in the EuroCup in blocks (1.9 per game), third in offensive rebounds (2.8), and eighth in total rebounds (6.8) while also scoring 10.8 points per game for Mornar, which played well in its competition debut until it was eliminated from Group D in Round 9.

"I always have the highest ambitions," Lukovic said. "It's not a small thing to be highly ranked in rebounding and blocked shots, and it would not be that way if we were not a good team, and therefore I am grateful."

Looking at Lukovic's past, those individual rankings should not be a surprise. The Belgrade native has led his domestic league or pan-European league in rebounds and/or blocks eight times in the last six years, including topping all shot-blockers in the Adriatic League the past two seasons and the FIBA Europe Cup last season.

Those kinds of accomplishments earned Lukovic a nomination for the Serbian senior national team for the September 2018 window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers.

"At the moment when I saw my name on the list, I was happy, because playing for the national team is one of my two greatest desires. I think that a dream of every single athlete is to defend the colors of his country," said Lukovic.

Basketball is not Lukovic's only passion though. As it turns out he is a major fan of cars, especially old ones.

"I love cars very much and my favorite is the BMW," said Lukovic, who owns a BMW E38 and a Golf 2. "Although I can afford new car models, I always aspired to have the older ones."

Video games also hold a special part in Lukovic's heart.

"I love Watch Dog because it's similar to GTA (Grand Theft Auto), I have no other reasons," he said of the action-adventure game.

NBA 2K17 allows Lukovic to step into the shoes of his favorite player at the moment. "In NBA 2K17, I always choose the Golden State Warriors because I love Stephen Curry," he said.

Just as his rebounding and shot-blocking should not be a surprise, neither should the fact that Lukovic plays pro basketball -- regardless of his height. His father Ljubisav Lukovic played professionally until 1999, when he was 36 years old, and later became a coach. Brother Marko, who is almost three years younger than Uros, has played in Germany, Macedonia, Slovenia, Spain and France since leaving Serbia in 2014. His sister Branka, five years younger, is currently playing for German second division side DJK Brose Bamberg after previously having played in Macedonia and Spain. Their mother also played basketball.

"Mom and dad met thanks to basketball. I started to practice, and my brother and sister followed me," said Uros, who started playing at 6 years old with BC Torlak.

Lukovic said he really doesn't remember many of his father's games, but he did have one clear memory.

"One game has been cut into my memory. That's when Borovica beat Partizan and my father was one of the best on the court," said Lukovic, whose father played for Borovica Ruma.

The Lukovics' paths would also cross on the basketball court. Uros and Marko faced each other in November 2009 with Uros playing for Radnicki and Marko for Mega Vizura as a 17-year-old. But the really memorable showdown between the Lukovic brothers came early in the 2015-16 season, when Uros was playing for Macedonia club Kumanovo -- with his father as coach.

"Frankly, it was a little unusual at first, but then I got used to it," Lukovic said of playing for his father. "We had a good attitude. On the court it was a coach-player relationship, off the court a relationship of father and son."

On October 21, 2015, Uros and his father's Kumanovo hosted MZT Skopje and younger brother Marko in a battle of two of Macedonia's best teams. Kumanovo won the game and the elder Lukovics had bragging rights.

"That was a completely different game because the rivalry of our two teams in Macedonia was enormous. In that game, dad and I won. In any case, someone from the family would be happy," Lukovic said.

In December of that season, Uros left Kumanovo for MZT Skopje so he could also play in the Adriatic League. That put him alongside his brother, and the Lukovic tandem helped Skopje win the 2016 Macedonia League and Cup titles.

"I can say that this was the most beautiful feeling for me, I celebrated the title of the championship with my brother. I will never forget that," Lukovic said.

Lukovic soon made the move from Macedonia back to his homeland and Partizan.

"In my life, I had two great wishes: one of them was to play for Partizan and the other one was to play for the national team. When I arrived in Partizan, my wish was fulfilled. It was an honor to wear this sacred jersey," said Lukovic, who led the Adriatic League in blocked shots in 2016-17.

Sister Branka was even with Partizan for the start of that season, but soon after her older brother arrived, she took an offer to join Valencia..

Uros left Partizan after one season in favor of Montenegro club Mornar Bar, which had finished second in the domestic league. Lukovic's arrival gave Mornar coach Mihailo Pavicevic a force in the middle and the club last season reached the FIBA Europe Cup quarterfinals before winning its first domestic title ever. Lukovic's first EuroCup season has been an individual success although Mornar has slumped to a 2-7 record in Group D.

"The season in Europe is not so bad if we remember how strong the competition is," he said.

Lukovic has already accomplished a lot in his career, but there is still one big dream left for him. He would love to play at Partizan again -- but this time, with his brother -- and the Lukovic brothers would guide the black and white back to Europe's top league for the first time since 2014.

"It would be the fulfilment of my dreams, with Partizan and my brother in the EuroLeague."