With New Year's celebrations underway in Russia, a few members of national basketball powerhouse CSKA Moscow swapped the court for the kitchen and learned how to make pizzas.
It’s not every day you walk into a pizzeria and find that your chefs are none other than professional basketball players Andrey Vorontsevich and Aaron Lee Jackson from CSKA Moscow, backed up by coach Quinn Snyder and scout Benas Matkevicius.
Such was the scene at a branch of Papa John’s pizzeria – one of the club's official sponsors – in central Moscow.
Despite an early start – the best time to avoid a mob of fans – both players and staff managed to hide their morning fatigue, getting their hands right in and making a star-signature pizza.
But it wasn’t all about having fun, as CSKA Coach Quinn was also working on his recipe for success.
“We’re watching them very closely to gain certain ideas on what to do with them on court,” he told RT. “Currently Andrey’s made a statement about the fact that he wants more shots, based on his pizza choice.”
In return, the power forward praised his coach’s effort before admitting that he did prefer on-court action.
“I think his pizza is good, but mine is better,” Vorontsevich said. “I think with the ball I’m much better than with a pizza.”
After a sleepy start, point guard Jackson took the game to his teammates as well, using some special ingredients for his pizza.
“I really just put my heart into it you know,” Jackson said. “I put my heart, sweat, blood and tears into something I wanted to do. I’m very passionate about making pizza and this is what happened – it’s a love pizza.”
So, some healthy – even, tasty – rivalry between the players, but Coach Quinn had only praise for the culinary extracurricular.
“Any time we get together particularly off the basketball court is a good thing,” the coach explained. “It’s different, it’s nice. Usually the players get sick of the coaching so they’d probably say ‘yes’ as long as I wasn’t here.”