Club profile: Partizan NIS Belgrade

Aug 24, 2021 by Print
Club profile: Partizan NIS Belgrade

There is great excitement in the Serbian capital this season with Coach Zeljko Obradovic back at the helm of his beloved Partizan NIS Belgrade. Though the club has reached the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 three years running, the goals this season are higher than ever.

Founded in 1945, Partizan started to make noise in European competitions in the late 1970s, when Dragan Kicanovic and Drazen Dalipagic led the club to Korac Cup titles in 1978 and 1979. Vlade Divac and Zarko Paspalj helped the club reach the 1988 EuroLeague Final Four and lift the 1989 Korac Cup. In 1992, Partizan won the club's first – and to date only – EuroLeague crown by downing DKV Joventut 70-71 on a miraculous buzzer-beater by Sasha Djordjevic, which ranks among the most amazing shots in basketball history. At home, Partizan remained a dominant force by winning trophies at a steady clip and it returned to the EuroLeague Final Four in 1998, but lost in the semifinals against eventual champion Kinder Bologna.

From the turn of the century, Partizan managed to remain fully competitive while developing players, including some of the best big men in European basketball, such as Nikola Pekovic, Aleks Maric, Kosta Perovic, Jan Vesely, Novica Velickovic and Milan Macvan. Before them, Dejan Tomasevic, Nenad Krstic and Predrag Drobnjak all played for Partizan, too. With a fan base that treats the club and basketball like a religion, success turned the club from contender to EuroLeague giant. Partizan registered three consecutive EuroLeague Playoff appearances between 2008 and 2010, with the latter being the year in which the club once again reached the EuroLeague Final Four. Maric, Bo McCalebb and Vesely helped Partizan top Maccabi Tel Aviv in the playoffs to get to the big event, where it was stopped in the semifinals by Olympiacos Piraeus only after overtime.

Partizan dominated domestically with a run of 13 consecutive Serbian League crowns, five consecutive Serbian Cups from 2008 through 2012, and ruling the Adriatic League with five trophies from 2007 through 2011 and another one in 2013. After it topped archrival Crvena Zvezda 3-1 in the 2014 Serbian League final to win the title, Partizan hit a dry spell. It made its EuroCup debut in 2014-15, but failed to leave a mark and suffered its first title-free season in 14 years. Partizan ended that drought by lifting the Serbian Cup in 2018, '19 and '20. With an army of basketball die-hards behind the players and a coaching legend on the sidelines, Partizan hopes to recapture glory this season.