Welcome to Belgrade,
the city of great basketball tradition and the city
of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four tournament in 2018. My name is Vladimir Stanković. I am 69 years old and I’m a journalist; I will be kind of your guide
during this documentary on Belgrade’s and Serbian basketball. We will try to explain
why Serbian basketball was determinant
over the last 30 years. Serbian basketball is always present
in Final Four tournaments – for example, in the last 28 editions, on 22 occasions
Serbian coaches or players have played a very important role
in winning titles for their team. The Serbian nation
is a very good soil for group sports. Somebody said
they are very very specific tall people, somebody else said very big talents. Our shot, our players,
young and old, they all shoot well. Why?
Because they work on it a lot – there’s a kind of rule here,
you can’t play basketball well if you don’t have a good shot. Talent is never enough, but definitely in my country
people are definitely very hard working. My experience as a coach –
I coach a lot of really great players it’s said that they understand that individual work is more important
than everything else. So this is, let’s say, something that is
a big tradition in Serbian basketball. Many of our players
come from the mountains in Serbia and Yugoslavia was formed by many many many mountains, and it’s normal that people coming
from the mountains are strong and very hard
and have a sense of community. This sense of community
for me personally is maybe the most important thing
that we have. Also, people
here have practically learned that they have to fight
for everything. This was certainly
also conveyed in the training. I don’t know, you know,
I believe that everywhere in the world you have people that have character, but I honestly believe
that Serbian players from a very young age – let’s say –
they start to dream of getting the ball, and putting the ball inside
the basket, the most important fact. This great dedication
and this great tradition that we had in Yugoslavian basketball, has created a unique philosophy, methods of training. Today, that is unique. Someone may want to say that there is
no Yugoslavian school of basketball. I say, of course there is one, because, because what is, what is a school? A school is primarily
a system of training methods. Does the Yugoslavian school, does Yugoslavian basketball
have special training methods? Yes, it does. Does it have,
does Yugoslavian basketball have a special way of selecting,
of choosing players? Yes, it does have one, a special one. The reason is because
out of all the others, I would say, including the American, in those times, as well as the Russian school
or European one. Our young players,
little children, when they don’t score, when they miss the last shot,
they can’t go back home because their father gets really angry
and the whole family tells them, “go and do something else,
a different sport”. We are really Spartan and tough
with our own children right from the start. Children grow bit by bit
with this idea – make the last shot in. We are visiting Mr Borislav Stanković because he’s the most important person
in the history of Serbian basketball. He was a player first, then the director of the federation
and then he was a coach, he coached OKK Belgrade and then he became
the most important person in the FIBA
international basketball federation. He was general secretary
for more than 25 years. He’s a living legend
of Serbian basketball. You are on your feet, in good form.
-It could be better. It could be better.
But it could be worse, that’s what they say,
that’s what they say. Great, please feel free to sit down. That’s right. Fine.
Please feel free to sit down. I know that it is your favourite pose.
-That’s the position. Favourite position, bravo. We started
to play basketball during the wartime, because our club was the tennis club and the courts were old tennis courts, but it was good enough for basketball. And the idea to play basketball
came from the people, from this organisation, SOCAL, from physical education teachers, and also some prisoners,
Italian prisoners, brought basketball to Belgrade. Later on,
basketball went to the Kalemegdan and the story started really on the courts of Red Star
in the park of Kalemegdan. At that court Mr Borislav Stanković, Mr Radomir Šaper, Mr Aleksandar Nikolić and Mr Nebojša Popović
were playing basketball. We always talk about four people
who were crucial for the development
of basketball in Serbia – generally in ex-Yugoslavia – these are Bora Stankovic, Radomir Šaper, Nebojša Popovic and Aleksandar Nikolic. Today I will visit the grave
of Professor Aleksandar Nikolic, who was a great expert and long-standing
Yugoslav national team coach, a winner of those earliest medals. He was the founder
of the basic principles of the Serbian coaching school. For me the most important thing,
in this sense, was the silver medal
in the Olympic games in Mexico City in 68. This generation was led by Korac, the famous scorer of the time. Even today, one of the best players
we have ever had. His 99 points against Alvik when he played
for OKK Belgrade in the Champions’ Cup, are still the individual record
in this competition which is today the EuroLeague. This generation,
they brought the first medals and this team also won the first medal in the European championships
here in Belgrade. Ranko Žeravica
also deserves our respect because he was the Yugoslav national
coach for many years and with Žeravica
Yugoslavia won its first gold medal in the world championship
played in Ljubljana in 1970. When our basketball really took off, it was Ljubljana, the world championship. Ranko Žeravica won the gold medal. Since then,
that moment was very important because basketball
made its way into schools. We have to say
that this huge success, victory, winning the world championship
in Belgrade, not Belgrade,
in Ljubljana, was a driving force. And basically, even people
who were less into basketball then, and more – as is always the case
in Europe – into football, simply watched it.
Oh, here is a new sport. We remember that as of that moment,
on the television, on Yugoslavian television,
Programme One, every Saturday we had live broadcasting
at seventeen hundred hours. This is practically nothing
by today’s standards, but back at the time, it was rather
significant for us, for basketball, for basketball players,
for popularity and so on. Of course, as a Serb I am very proud
of this history that we have. I know that people like basketball, I know that kids over there
like to work very hard. I am really very proud
that my country has this kind of history
in basketball. My name is Aleksandar Zmijanjac
and I’m the director of youth categories at Red Star basketball club. You know, you probably heard before
that many people said that Serbia is a basketball land, and for example,
just in the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade, there are
90 basketball teams registered. My name is Aleksandar Bucan and I am the under-19 coach
at Partizan basketball club. And I’m sure that we have
a very successful future in basketball because when I look at all these kids
I’m sure that so many of them will become future big players
with the Serbia national team and also for all the domestic clubs. I am well, you? Excellent.
-What’s up? Nothing, I stopped by a little to see
what’s new here in Kališ. Well, here and there. What do you say about my new form, eh? Straighten your elbow,
straighten your elbow. When I was shooting those shots
I just remember like the days I was practicing here
when I was a little kid, and – so much history. Yeah, I also remember, always when
I’m walking around here, you know, I came to this court and
remember my childhood… There’s a special
feeling about this place. Yeah of course. So much rivalry and we share
almost the same court. Just a little bit between us.
So much tradition in one place. Yeah,
so much tradition in one place. So many titles and great players. And how many practices? You know,
how many hard practices are there? Right, right.
This is the land of basketball, right?
Serbia, everybody loves basketball and everybody knows basketball.
There’s no secret in Serbian basketball I think we just work
a lot, we just practice a lot. This winning mentality, you know, becomes stronger, you know, after very good practices
and big drills. So, you know, some kids need to
adjust to the pressure, they need to deal with
that pressure, to fight with that pressure,
you know, and we have to teach them that.
Right? Yeah of course, you know,
but I think that this is also very good for these new kids, you know,
because these kids learn from the best, you know. And there is no just, to participate,
we have to win. Yeah.
We also know that in the youth selection, you know,
even if you don’t win, you know, we are on the right way to win one day. Exactly. Buco I know we are rivals but I wish
you so much luck in the future with you and your team
because this is all about basketball, right?
-Yeah of course. And I am also very very impressed,
you know, with your quality, because I know when we win against
very good opponents or rivals you know then we are good also. Thank you very much. I believe that anybody who lives in
Belgrade likes to spend during the year
some moments at Kalemegdan. It’s a historic place, you know, with something that not
so many cities have that there are two different rivers,
from there you can see let’s say all the
parts of New Belgrade over there. Kalemegdan is a symbol of
basketball for me. I worked at the facilities for six
years, where Red Star plays. Red Star is my team. And right next to it is the courts of Partizan Belgrade. Božidar Maljkovic is a four-time European champion with three clubs. Two times with Jugoplastika, one time with Limoges and one time
with Panathinaikos. He is now president of the Serbian
Olympic Committee but he doesn’t forget basketball
and always can find time to speak with his old
friends about basketball. We won, but without knowing how
important this victory and being champions
of Europe was. And on the plane, in the air,
the captain, the pilot, asked for the weather conditions
at Split airport, and the people from down below
answered, “The same as always. It’s always sunny in Split.
But there’s nowhere for you to land, there’s 200,000 people waiting for
the team.” At that moment, when we saw the people down
below from the plane, we started to think about
what we’d done. After winning the first one,
Professor Nikolic, who had some nitroglycerine in his
hand because had heart problems, wanted to talk to me alone for three or four minutes. So we went into a dressing
room next door. The players were celebrating.
He said “Now look here, boss, from here on you’re on your own,
you’re going to be alone. You’re not going to have a lot of
friends in life. Just your family, and that’s the
important thing, and a few friends. If you have five, that’s enough.” And right now, right behind you, are my old five friends. We are talking about Divac, about Paspalj, about Dražen,
the players that were European pioneers in the NBA. It is not what people think in the NBA.
In the NBA you have two, three superstars in each club,
and the others are average players. These average players cannot play in
big European clubs such as Real, Barça, Panathinaikos. I had them and I know that
they cannot. Basketball is a sport that is evolving and it moved through its
phases to reach that phase, the NBA phase. Many players from those times, I don’t know,
Lotz or Gates, maybe they would be playing in the NBA today. Was Ivo Daneu an NBA player? Well of course.
Everybody says that he was, that he would be a miracle in the NBA.
Was Praja Dalipagic an NBA player? He could just as well have been.
He spent 15 days in Boston and passed all
the tests and they offered him a contract,
but he was a little bit, he would have lost the right to play
for the national team, because at that time,
it was not possible. He could have been a star in the NBA,
Praja Delipagic. That’s right. I believe that Bormio was a turning
point and that group of great talents that showed up in this Bormio
tournament – Divac, Kukoc, Radja,
not to mention Djordjevic – this was a fantastic generation,
where half of them went to the NBA and this
started to get very interesting. Europe started to be very
interesting there. I was really lucky to have trained
these very players, from Saša Obradovic,
who was not in the NBA, Tomaševic and Paspalj, Ðordevic,
Divac, who took great steps towards the NBA. I think, I think that this region
has produced many players. Even now, we have the line-up that is there, this line-up of players could be
European champions, without a problem. In the NBA?
-In the NBA, well yes. Teodosic, Bogdanovic Bjelica,
Jokic, Marjanovic. These would probably become champions,
wherever they played. I have many friends in the Serbian
basketball federation. One of course is Predrag Danilovic,
today the president, but I remember him more
for his great career. He was one of the most successful
basketball players in our history; four-time European champion
with the national team, twice with his clubs,
first with Partizan in Istanbul 92, where he was also MVP,
and with Kinder in Barcelona 98. How I remember 92 in Istanbul
when we won, when Partizan won? That’s probably
one of the greatest memories for me while I was a basketball player. Don’t forget that Partizan
was like a team which was Spanish, with no home court. They were playing in Fuenlabrada. It’s very difficult to find the words to thank them for everything
that they were doing for us. I believe that they gave us
the power to play any game over there, thinking that it was our home court. Duda Ivkovic is my very,
very good friend, a very close friend. And he talked to me,
he told me a couple of things – Look, nobody plays a final to lose. Very simple, but you have to tell
somebody at the right time, you have to have great timing
to say that. And about Joventut, you know, I believe
that everybody remembers how it was, with shot by Saša Ðordevic. He was the kind of player
who controls, not only the ball,
but nine other players, the shot clock and the two baskets. He was always controlling 10,000 people. And what Ðordevic did changed our lives and I believe
we will always be grateful to him. I believe that this final changed
the destiny of a lot of us, honestly. But I’m very happy
that this generation of the players that I coached at this moment, they grew up like players
but also like persons. All of them are great people, and this feeling
to meet again my players and all the members of my staff
and even some people from my club, it’s something special, and always a special feeling. I went to Joventut and of course
all the people talked about this, about how I needed
to give something back to them – thinking about this final
that we had played two years before. So, during all the season
people talk like that and we went
to the Final Four again in Tel Aviv and finally you know
we beat Olympiacos in the final game. Before that,
in the semifinal, Barcelona. So, after the game I know
that I joked with everyone, I said, “Now everything is fine. Now I don’t need
to give you anything back.” The Final Four, it was in Zaragoza. I remember very well
that Sabonis played just, if I remember,
24 minutes – scoring 25 points. So he was really
a great player in that moment, the best player in Europe,
without any doubt. With Arlauckas also, because of that, we won the trophy
and to bring to Real Madrid after, I believe, 15 years,
because the last title it was 80, so after that was 95. Yes, my first year
in Panathinaikos with, let’s say, the players that were my players – also in the national team –
Dejan Bodiroga and Zeljko Rebraca, all the other very good players.
The roster it was really very good. Again, teamwork brought us
to be European champions. The absolute favorite
in the final was Kinder Bologna – with Ettore Messina, with also Ginobili. And I remember a crucial moment,
when they were leading in first half by 14 points, and I talked to the team and said that we need to get to half time,
you know, without such a big difference. It was like that, you know, we came back and this way
that we chose to play with four perimeter players gave us
a lot of opportunity offensively. We changed the game offensively and we beat the team that was really
a big favorite in that final. It’s a great pleasure
to see Svetislav Pešic again on the bench of Barcelona. He’s part of Serbian,
but not just Serbian, history of basketball. He’s the only coach
who has won the European title with two different national teams, with Germany 93 and Yugoslavia 2001. He also won the world title in 2002 and helped Barcelona
to win its first European title in 2003. Memory of 2003. Dueñas, Bodiroga, Jasikevicius. When it comes to this final match
or Final Four here in Barcelona, then, of course,
people talk mostly about Bodiroga, then they talk about Fucka,
then they talk about Navarro, they talk about Pešic,
they talk about Šarunas, of course. Bodiroga had better not score
that three-point basket. He scored many three-pointers. As in everything,
you must have motivation for something in order to be able to motivate others. My wish was that we sign Bodiroga first. Bodiroga was playing in Panathinaikos and I thought
that he had finished his work there and that he was looking
for a new challenge. I said to the club
that if we wanted to win it, if we wanted to win the title, we had to have the players
that know how to win it. It was the first Final Four in Athens. The old story, you know, that everybody
tries to put pressure on you – you must be in the Final Four, you must win because you play
on your home court, blah blah blah. The most important thing
was to explain to my players that nothing is different
because we were playing in Athens. This must be help for us
not to feel any kind of pressure and it was one of the best final games
against CSKA ever, 2007. 2009, it was probably, for me, one of the best,
if not the best, Final Four. We played in Berlin
and again the final against CSKA. Incredible level of basketball. Incredible we won the game. The last seconds, after we had led
in first half by 20… because, of course, of the quality
that CSKA had at that moment. Oh, please come in! How are you? You know, for me basketball is my job
and passion and a hobby and all. But you must have something besides
that in order to achieve balance, although this is dangerous, you know. I think that this brings you out of
balance, but it is a great thing. This is the painter Petar Omcikus, who is a great painter. He painted his friends as fans. It is a pleasure
to visit Duško Vujoševic, the most successful coach
in history of Partizan. He will tell us now his reason
for the success of Serbian basketball, as well as a few words about
the Final Four tournament in Paris 2010, when Partizan, with him on the bench, lost both matches in overtime. Objectively, it was not a team
that was made for the Final Four. Even for being among the top eight. However, when you want something more
than your opponents do, good chemistry is created. I can say that we were unlucky
in the Final Four, because even though we were a team
that should have been thrilled only to have been there, we were practically winning
against Olympiacos in the semifinals. They had this last attack,
we, I put in the zone defense to defend this one shot,
and we defended this one shot against Teodosic
to the extent that he completely missed. But, it was no good,
maybe exactly from the zone defense, that defended this shot well,
but it did not do the rebound well, did not box out well. In spite of this, we were very unfortunate to lose
the chance to make it to the end, have a huge success
and enter the finals with Barcelona. For me they’re champions. They lost two games,
but they’re still champions. You know young kid that,
he decided to come to Partizan. I was captain of Partizan, we spent a lot of nights
together in the room. First year, like 18 years old,
the key player in Partizan. Incredible for one player, 18 years old, to dominate so fast
and to be at that level. He was a pivot, but thinking so fast
like a point guard. And he was playing
more point guard than pivot. Now like Divac was, let’s say,
like finding a pure diamond talent. Divac was a player for whom it was
possible to play all positions. A big guy,
seven footer, creator, playmaker,
whatever you want to do with them. I believe everything
was really different in 2011 in the Final Four in Barcelona –
if you play really well – Diamantidis was MVP – he controlled everything
that was necessary to control. And I remember Nick Calathes, it was
a very important tournament for him because after that
everybody started to consider him like a great player. These are all young pigeons,
the first generation. Young pigeons already have eggs. Well, I have two pairs, but they have squabs,
then I give them away. This is the sound they make. We are now at the home of Dušan Ivkovic, one of the most important coaches in the history of Serbian basketball. He was a three-time European champion
with the Yugoslav national team, one-time world champion and also with the clubs he won
the EuroLeague twice with Olympiacos and also he is the national coach who has won the most medals
in the history of Serbian basketball. This will be some Turkish medal,
the first, a Turkish Cup, Eurobasket… In that case in my situation to speak
about trophies is very difficult now. That I am a very happy man
that I had so many players. Yes, it was so many trophies
like European championships – maybe it is interesting that we won
the European championships three times – we didn’t lose a single game. If it is important now,
but I don’t think so. He’s the godfather of my son and his wife
the godmother of my daughter, he taught me a lot of things, not just as a basketball coach,
but also in life. I’m very proud because
I have a person like Dušan Ivkovic as a really good and very close friend. Now, after 1997, when Olympiakos won all the titles. It is something very interesting that I never was coach again
2 times in the same team, same club. And again we won, let’s say,
that maybe the season was OK – we won the Greek championship
and we won the EuroLeague. 2012 And after that all around me, let’s say, it was moments of glory. When all these people
let’s say with champagne, with cigar,
with the cups, with everything, I feel very, very, very sad. Why? Well very simple – I can never forget what happened just to reach glory and the title, everything after that is behind it. Generation by generation, we have someone in front of us that really we are focused
to understand how they play, how they like basketball and how they dedicate
their time to basketball. Milos, okay, people in United States
right now are surprised with him, how he passes the ball. For those of us who know Milos,
you know, just to be proud that one more player
from Serbia has this talent. You know you watch Milos
and you understand that, how much he likes basketball. And I said, and as a coach it’s very difficult
for any player from my team or the opponent can surprise
during a game. One of these for sure is Milos Teodosic. Here we go – 40 minutes to a title. The tip-off is won by Fenerbahce… We beat everybody, in the Final Four and also here in the Turkish championship
quarterfinal, semifinal and final, you know, very, let’s say, easy. Even if it’s not possible to say easy, but we played
really very good basketball from the playoff against Panathinaikos
until the end – incredible level. Bogdan was, let’s say,
our key player but Kalinic, doing a lot of things, the level of his game in these games against Panathinaikos
and in the Final Four – it was really, very, very high. This is a great place to be, I’m here with my wife
and we’re enjoying every day. I think the idea of people
interacting with each other, great people and great food. A lot of people ask me
what’s my favourite thing: it’s the people and the food. It’s a very special place,
basketball-wise, to play, because the second
you step foot into this country, people know basketball
and they want to talk about it. The history of basketball
first of all it’s very, very big and Red Star is one of the maybe one of the biggest teams
in ex-Yugoslavia, maybe the biggest. The first basketball
started in Mali Kalemegdan – this is the place
where the offices of the club are now, and many basketball players
are a product of Red Star and one of the best players
maybe in the world. We had a lot of success at home and a lot of that is due to our fans
and due to the excitement in this arena. So we expect nothing less from our fans and we’re going to give them
a good fight and a good show. I played in other countries and I never felt
this kind of support like here. The fans here are fantastic. From the street they know the game and they come
and they watch to see a good match. And not only to watch you play
and to watch you win but to watch you play
with a lot of passion, play hard and they really respect that, and they respond to that
very much on the court. I think you will not find it
in any other place in the whole wide world. So, being here, experiencing it live, it’s just amazing. And you have to see it live,
you just have to see it. You know all the noise,
all the passion that there is, you know,
you don’t see it in any NBA match. The best fans and the best passion
clearly is in the Balkans and in Serbia and those countries –
it’s clearly the best here. I hope that this journey
through Serbian basketball history has helped you discover
some of the secrets to our success on the court. Now a new adventure begins, one which will culminate
at the Final Four in Belgrade. The city and whole country
have been waiting a long time for this moment
and I’m sure the Final Four will be another great success
in Serbian basketball history. Welcome and good luck to all. If there is one city that deserves to hold the Final Four
I think it’s Belgrade. And I’m sure
that by seeing this great love between people and basketball
it should be the best Final Four in the history of Final Fours. Serbia is a basketball country so, believe me, it will be great. There are only two countries, two countries in the world or in Europe where basketball
is the most popular sport. These are Lithuania and Serbia, I mean. I think that there isn’t a better city
today in Europe with better conditions, and standards required
for the organisation of such a big show. OK, I don’t know
which country deserves more than Serbia to be Final Four owner,
honestly. Belgrade deserves
to have the Final Four for clubs, the organization and everything. People’s interest is very high. And we can expect
a really beautiful tournament. It’s the playoffs
in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. This is the continent of Europe’s
premier basketball competition. We’re underway here. Game one of this playoff series… Gets the rock… Veseley with the pound. Anticipated and a pass over
the top – an easy dunk. And Zalgiris start
with a road win in Piraeus. Sergio Rodriguez
has netted a new career high. Through. A Papapetrou pile driver. Step-though and slams it down. It’s the old school Llull
who does it again! And Khimki have secured their first
ever victory in the playoffs. Sloukas to Veselý. And they can look forward
to the Final Four in Belgrade. Oh my lord. Are you kidding me? Real Madrid – punching their ticket
to another Final Four. Destination Belgrade
for Zalgiris Kaunas. Oh my goodness! And CSKA Moscow
have booked their tickets to Belgrade.

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Dennis Veasley

38 thoughts on “Belgrade: Cradle of Basketball”

  1. There was no more suitable city to host the 2018 Euroleague F4. Belgrade is a historic city with an equally long history in basketball. Unfortunately, neither Olympiacos nor Panathinaikos qualified. Good luck to the four teams, I wish I have the opportunity to be there. Emotion… This season could not have ended any better.

  2. Jel ovo prica o Partizanu ili o cemu se ovde radi ? Jel ovo neka provokacija protiv Zeleznika i njihove legende Cokija ? Taman pomislim da sam sve video, a onda se pojavi Vujosevic, hehe ehheheheheh……pretpostavljam da ce se do kraja filma pojaviti i Alenpije a i Stevica Karadzic sa sve Smago Zagadinom !

  3. Земља кошарке и добрих људи који су нажалост жртва капитализма и вишедеценијског испирања мозга. Кошаркаши су нам пуно радости подарили. Европске силе уз америчке гмизавце су нам подариле хуманитарну помоћ у виду осиромашеног уранијума.

    Срећно Жељку Обрадовићу до нове титуле.

  4. Love Serbia with food people sports . I miss Belgrade, Kopaonik, Novi Sad every year. Kisses from Istanbul to the best city in Europe! Şampiyon Fener💙💛 Ziveli Obradovic 🍾R.I.P Marko Ivkovic, Fenerbahçe fans prays for you 🤲🏻

  5. Шта ће овде Дуло поред свих ових легенди? Шта је он урадио у Европској кошарци да би се нашао у овом снимку? Претпостављам да је радом у ЦСКА заслужио своје место у овој емисији…

  6. Fenerbahce 25 milyonun sevgisi ve gücü ile yine şampiyon olacaktır.Buyuk hoca OBRADOVIC e minnettarız.Buyuk Fenerbahcelilere bu gururu yaşattığı için.Kalbimiz seninle FENERBAHCE m

  7. Huge love to Belgrad and Serbia from Turkey. The city and country of our great coach Obra and our legend Bogdanovic.

  8. Welcome to Belgrade!! Serbia loves Russian brothers!!! 🇷🇸👊🇷🇺 Orthodox brothers!!! CSKA Champion!!

  9. Gracias a Boza por hacer sus comentarios en español! (Thanks to Boza for making his comments in Spanish)

  10. Најјаче од свега што нам град представљају Дуда и Дуле ''омиљени'' вучићеви тренери.Вучко, цркни од муке и зависти јер им можеш пљунути под прозор 😉

  11. sta je ovo bozo maljkovic odjednom srbin ? kad treba da prica za eurolegue dokumentarac gde je prica o srpskoj kosarci onda je spreman da sedne cak i ispred srpske zastave a inace je izbegavao zbog njegovih ustaskih frendova decenijama da kaze da je srbin ,vise je bio jugosloven 😉 eh bozo bozo ..

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