Divac lends helping hand

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 2006, 12:00am

NBA legend Vlade Divac told Hong Kong juniors that playing hard but with discipline is the secret to becoming a great basketball player.

A total of 14 Hong Kong school students were selected to join the Vlade Divac NBA Cares residential training camp at Shantou University this month.

The former Los Angeles Lakers centre and NBA coaches shared their knowledge of tactical play and basic skills at camps in four mainland cities this summer.

'We wanted to give them tips that will help them become better players and understand concepts of team work, as well as improve passing and shooting skills,' said Divac, who stands 2.16m tall.

'I've been impressed by the standard of the Chinese players. There is certainly a lot of potential.'

The 14 Hong Kong students - boys and girls - were selected from the inter-school Basketball Marathon competition at Harbour Road Sports Centre last month.

With funding from the Li Ka-shing Foundation, outstanding performers were chosen by the Hong Kong School Sports Federation to join the five-day camp.

'He talked to us a lot about playing smart basketball and using your brain to gain an advantage,' said Taylor Fung Chun-nam, one of the students.

'I remember Divac was one of the most unselfish players in the NBA. He could read the court very well and always knew where his teammates were.'

The 38-year-old Divac, a native of Serbia-Montenegro, is one of just three NBA players who have amassed 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots.

Divac tipped the USA to win the World Championships, which started in Japan on Saturday. 'They've picked the right team. I think China can do well too. Maybe the top eight.'

Vlade Divac played as a centre and was known for his great passing skills. He began his professional basketball in then-Yugoslavia, before being drafted to the NBA in 1989.

He played for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Sacramento Kings, before returning to the Lakers in 2004 for one season.

He was a popular figure in the US and appeared on various TV shows.

Since retirement Divac has been involved in many non-basketball endeavours and runs his own charity called Group Seven. He is currently the head of operations for Real Madrid basketball club.

Career highlights:

Won gold medal with Yugoslavia at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, USA

Was selected for the NBA All-Stars Game in 2001

Played in the 1991 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls