View Full Version : After the Olympics: Whatís the future of Russia?

09-11-2008, 03:00 AM
Source: Ball in Europe (http://www.ballineurope.com/countries/russia/after-the-olympics-whats-the-future-of-russia/)

Russia, the surprising Eurobasket winner of 2007 (yes, now we can say that it was a surprise) comes from a disappointing performance during the Beijing Olympics. An official 9th place was far below the expectations for a country that has one of the strongest leagues in Europe.

And this strong league might also be one of the reasons of the poor result. Even the rule that obliges the team to have one Russian native player on the court is not bringing the necessary results at the moment. With 4 superstars around, the player does not have a lot of responsibility and the salaries of Russian players have risen that much that nearly any player signs with a foreign team at the moment.

But letís come back to the Russian national team, a team that has a surprising number of veterans on its roster. Players like Nikita Morgunov, Petr Samoylenko or Zakhar Pashutin will probably not come back with the national team in the future. On the other hand, coach David Blatt tried also to integrate some youngsters like Andrey Vorontsevich but their impact was limited in Beijing.

The case of JR Holden is also apart as the naturalized American player is already 32 years old and will probably not stay with the team for another eternity. So there is a lot of room to fill with young players. But who are the young players that could join the squad in an era where Russian youth teams are not dominating the competitions anymore?

First of all, I would think of Anton Ponkrashov. The scoring guard could fulfill a JR Holden role but in a different style. In general, the lack of a high-quality point guards should bring the Khimki Moscow player to this role as soon as the Eurobasket 2009. Another talented guard that should be a member of the team in a short period is Alexey Shved. The highly talented guard is like Ponkrahsov not a pure PG but more of a scorer. A PG that could enter the NT in a few years is on the other hand the Dynamo Moscow guard Dmitriy Khvostov. However, he needs to gain more experience to deserve a NT job.

The wings are highly talented with Andrei Kirilenko and Viktor Khryapa. Besides the already added Vorontsevich, I could imagine the addition of somebody like Nikita Shabalkin or Nikita Kurbanov in the future. Also, a lot of observers want to see how develops Yaroslav Korolev who still is only 21. But the forward position is not a big problem for the Russian coaches at the moment. A prospect that needs on the other hand to be followed more closely is the long Semen Shashkov. The 1989 born forward has a great combination of size and talent and is considered as one of the best young players in Europe. But he lacks of high level experience at the moment and is herewith only a long term prospect right now.

In the paint, there is still Alexey Savrasenko but his injury this season hurt him more than expected and I can not see him continue until 2012 with the national team. Sasha Kaun may be interesting for the future but first of all we have to see how he will adapt to the FIBA basketball. Anatoly Kashirov is another candidate for this position but also here, the talent level is not as important as his size. The Center position is definitely the most difficult to fill for Russia in the future. All this would sum up with the following possible roster in 2012.

Guards: Ponkrashov, Shved, Keyru, Bykov, Fridzon

Forwards: Kirilenko, Khryapa, Monya, Kurbanov, Shashkov

Centers: Kaun, Kashirov