South African basketball suffered a tragic loss when leading coach and former Serbian national player Nikola Jokanovic died while coaching his team in a Premier Basketball League (PBL) match at Mandeville Centre in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Jokanovic, who was the player- coach of Tshwane Suns, led his side from the court at half-time in their match against Olympians and collapsed in the dressing room.
Efforts by medics to revive him failed and he was declared dead by medical staff.
Basketball South Africa president and PBL vice chairman Vusi Mgobhozi expressed his shock at Jokanovic's death and conveyed his condolences to his family, friends and the Serbian community in South Africa.
Sgwili Gumede, marketing manager of PBL sponsor Coca-Cola, sympathised with Jokanovic's family and the basketball fraternity. This was echoed by the PBL, who described Jokanovic as one of the sport's colourful characters.
Tshwane Suns' Dion Karagiannis said his team lost more than a coach in Jokanovic.
"He was passionate about basketball and lived for the game. We want to express our heartfelt condolences to everyone associated with Nikola."
Friend Terry Pretoritis, who was Jokanovic's coach when he arrived in South Africa in the early 90s, said the Serbian lived for basketball.
"I brought him to play here and while his death is tragic, he died doing what he loved best." - Sapa