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6 Dec, 2021 11:18

Serbian basketball star, 32, dies weeks after collapsing in training session

Serbian basketball star, 32, dies weeks after collapsing in training session

A Serbian basketball player has died three weeks after suffering a stroke while undergoing individual training as he recovered from an ankle injury.

6ft 10in Stevan Jelovac, who last played for AEK Athens in the Greek Basketball League, had been hospitalized since November 14 after he collapsed while attempting to regain fitness following a period on the sidelines.

The center spent two weeks being treated at the Μetropolitan General in the Greek capital, where his condition was described as critical, before being moved last week a Serbian facility at the request of his family. 

Jelovac's illness sent shockwaves through Greek basketball circles, with teams from the Greek Basket League displaying banners reading "Get well soon, Stevan" prior to recent games.

Before joining AEK Athens in August, Jelovac had an extensive career playing across Europe.

He had competed for teams in Turkey, Germany, Russia, Spain, Lithuania, Italy and Japan since emerging from the ranks of KK Vizura in his homeland in 2008.

As an AEK player, Jelovac averaged 12.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.7 steals per game in his short stint with the side.

Jelovac's passing has triggered an outpouring of grief from the European basketball community.

The ACB – the Spanish league in which Jelovac played for three seasons – were among the teams to pay tribute.

"Condolences to the family and friends of a player who defended the colors of Casademont Zaragoza and who we will always remember," ACB wrote.

Jelovac's former Spanish team, CAI Zaragoza, who he played for between 2014 and 2017, also marked his passing.

"In the three years in which he wore our jersey, through his particular personality, Steve always brought us his professionalism on the court and his closeness to the fans – the best legacy that his memory leaves us," they said.

"We are at a loss for words. RIP and all the best on your last journey. Show them up there how to play basketball," added German side Brose Bamberg, for whom Jelovac played in 2018.

Turkish league leaders Fenerbahce told their Instagram following of more than a million: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Stevan Jelovac.

"We would like to express our sincere condolences and our deepest sympathies to his family and friends."

Well-known players Gorn Dragic and Matt Logeski were among those to pay their respects on social media.