Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

R A I N B O W _ B A S K E T B A L L

War has changed
Predrag Savovic

The UH basketball player
will dedicate his games to his parents,
who survived NATO's bombs

By Pat Bigold


In late March of this year, Hawaii basketball player Predrag Savovic prayed for the safety of his parents as NATO began its bombing campaign in Yugoslavia.

Nikola and Olivera Savovic have an apartment in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, near the Adriatic Sea. While NATO bombers concentrated mostly on Kosovo and Belgrade, some targets in Montenegro, including their town, were hit.

"I can't believe it," said Savovic at the time.

Telephone communication was cut off. To make matters more complicated, Savovic's only sibling, "Boban," was getting ready to play for Ohio State in the NCAA's Final Four basketball tournament.

They needed each other at that time, but could not reach each other to embrace and share their anxieties.

But there was a happy ending for the Savovic family.

Predrag Savovic's parents escaped the war unscathed and still live in the apartment by the Adriatic Sea.

"I speak with them (by phone) like every other day," said Savovic. Now he hopes they can move to Hawaii with him.

"My father is a great diver and he is desperately looking for work here," said Savovic. "But I don't know anybody here who could hire him. He has dived to save people and he has taken bodies from accidents. He is a big man: 6 feet, 260 pounds, and all muscle."

Savovic turns deadly serious when he speaks of his 48-year-old father's skill and his dream to bring his parents to live in Hawaii.

He said that the islands would be a perfect refuge for his once-wealthy family, whose economic hardships were intensified by the war with NATO.

"My father has never lived more than two miles from the sea," he said.

If his family cannot get to Hawaii, Savovic said he doesn't think he will be able to visit Montenegro for about three years.

"But I'm glad it's (the war) over, and I don't really care about anything else, honestly," said Savovic. He said he isn't interested in Slobodan Milosevic or any of the politics surrounding the postwar era.

It's obvious that the war has left some wounds but Savovic won't open them. He mentions that his Serbian cousins fled from Kosovo during the bombing, and wonders why there was no mention of Serbian refugees in the media.

Savovic finally managed an emotional reunion with his younger brother last month. Because neither could afford the air fare to fly all the way to meet the other, the Savovic boys met "halfway," in Los Angeles.

"It was nice," said Predrag Savovic.

Savovic will be competing with Nerijus Puida and Lane O'Connor for a starting position at small forward for UH this coming season. He can also play shooting guard.

Rainbows head coach Riley Wallace once said he recruited Savovic because he needed someone with his toughness as well as skill up front. He likes the way Savovic can mix it up.

"If they need it, I will give them one point or I will give them 30 points - as long as we win," said Savovic, vowing his dedication to the Rainbows' revival from a 6-20 season.

But Savovic's priorities will not change even when he's playing basketball.

"Every game I play, I will dedicate to my parents," he said.

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