|Host City: Kayseri|
|Host City: Istanbul|
|Host City: Ankara|
|5. Puerto Rico||1/4||6|
|6. Cote d'Ivoire||1/4||6|
|Host City: Izmir|
|3. New Zealand||3/2||8|
|#||Name||P||Height||DOB||Place Of Birth||Club|
|26/02/1983||Novodvinsk, Russia||CSKA Moscow, Superleague A (RUS)|
|08/05/1985||Tomsk, Russia||CSKA Moscow, Superleague A (RUS)|
|18/05/1986||Almaty, Kazakhstan||Dynamo Moscow, Superleague A (RUS)|
|03/08/1982||Kiev (UKR), Ukraine||CSKA Moscow, Superleague A (RUS)|
|23/04/1986||St. Petersburg, Russia||Spartak Saint Petersburg, Superleague A (RUS)|
|15/04/1983||Saratov, Russia||Dynamo Moscow, Superleague A (RUS)|
|07/05/1986||Stavropolsky reg. (RUS), Russia||(RUS)|
|16/07/1986||St. Petersburg, Russia||New York Knicks, NBA (USA)|
|Min||Minutes played||Tot||Total rebounds||BS||Block Shots|
|%||Shooting percentage||PF||Personal fouls||G||Played Games|
Mature Generation, Mature Team
Three years after their EuroBasket glory days, Russia are a hard team to figure out. Sub-par performances at the Beijing Olympics and EuroBasket 2009 have made some wonder if their triumph in Spain was perhaps just down to luck. Time for them to answer the critics.
Few national teams are as hard to evaluate as Russia before any tournament. It is a country with a winning tradition that spans many decades and dates back to countless USSR victories on every level imaginable, in particular through the successful 1990s when Russia had to compete on her own, and when they impressed again during 2007 by winning EuroBasket. Then, going into the Beijing Olympics with high hopes, the team flunked the tournament managing only one win against Iran.
They looked out with caution before EuroBasket 2009 but you never underestimate a current champion, even with roster alterations. Russia finished eighth just like during most of the 2000s, not qualifying for the World Championship directly and leaving everybody guessing if that gold medal was pure luck and whether this team will ever be able to get back the mojo it had in 2007.
If you like to measure rosters by the number of NBA players, you’d have to stop when you count to one. Andrei Kirilenko is still the only true international star on the team and in fact the only player not with a Russian club. Unfortunately, the National Team will not be able to count on him after he pulled out through injury. With the Utah Jazz forward, Russia at times looked like a one-man show in the way of China and Germany of recent years. With him out, it will be interesting to see who of the supporting cast that played a big part in bringing home the gold just three years ago will step up and lead by example.
A lot of players on the national team have somehow got lucky and slipped through the cracks of the Russian system to get their careers started against all odds. Center Sasha Kaun attended an American school and college before coming to Russia already a player to be reckoned with. A starting American point guard was out for the season with an injury early, allowing a teenage Anton Ponkrashov to run the offence of Spartak St Petersburg for a whole year. More injuries got Vitaly Fridzon an unlikely call-up to the first team and he exploded in the play-offs, joining the list of elite Russian players on the rise. Chances like this may buy you a roster spot, but get ready to be benched for the slightest mistakes, because there are so few games in a season and losses are considered too big a price to pay for player development.
“Players must become leaders within their club teams in order for the national team to be successful”, said ex-head coach Sergei Babkov after yet another disappointing finish, eighth place at EuroBasket 2005. Well, given the current situation, it was way too much to ask.
“A team of benchwarmers has just pulled off the biggest con of them all,” wrote Russian journalist Dmitry Materansky just two years later, when Russia came out of nowhere to win EuroBasket 2007, beating heavily favoured Spain on their home court in the final. Not too big of a stretch, considering that star Andrei Kirilenko had just spent his worst season with the Jazz and had even thought of leaving the NBA, while Viktor Khryapa basically didn’t play at all in 2006/07 after his trade to the Bulls.
American guard J.R. Holden was the man in charge for CSKA and it’s no coincidence that it was him who hit the gold-winning shot. But the rest of the players – role players with their clubs and on the national team – have produced on the level nobody in the world had expected.
So is there something good going on in Russian basketball that made the title possible? If you want to read into the win a little further then even just the inspired effort by Kirilenko, the tournament’s MVP, it is possible to find some favourable factors. Firstly, even though some Russian players may not be asked to do a lot on their teams, they are still competing at the top level of European club basketball. They don’t get jitters reading an opponent’s roster because they have played with and against these guys all year. Used to playing limited minutes, they don’t have much trouble accepting a role on the national team, which makes for a good atmosphere without ego clashes. A few players can also play multiple positions: it helps to be versatile if you are trying to crack the rotation of a top Russian club. So call it a team of “sixth men” if you will, even though some players are past this stage of their career now.
Persuading the organisers to give a wild card to Russia promised to bring its best line-up to the tournament. That would have meant a long-tenured trio of long athletic wings in Kirilenko, Khryapa and Sergei Monya, all still in their prime. But AK47 has now ruined that. J.R. Holden is still the best point guard the team can have and Kaun has emerged as Russia’s biggest hope in the middle. Injuries and player absences were a major problem for this team the last two summers, so it will be the main theme of the preparation. If Russia manages to assemble its core and coach David Blatt does some magic with the role players once again, nobody can deny this team is in contention for a medal.
|2012||FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament||3rd|
|2011||FIBA U19 World Championship||3rd|
|2010||U18 European Championship Men DIVISION A||2nd|
|2006||U16 European Championship Men DIVISION A||2nd|
|2005||U20 European Championship Men DIVISION A||1st|
|2004||European Championship for Men U16 DIVISION A||2nd|
|2003||European Championship for Cadets||3rd|
|2001||European Championship for Cadets||2nd|
|1998||World Championship for Men||2nd|
|1997||European Championship for Cadets||2nd|
|1997||European Championship for Men||3rd|
|1994||World Championship for Men||2nd|
|1993||European Championship for Cadets||3rd|
|1993||European Championship for Men||2nd|
Head coach: David BLATT