Despite some unconvincing results in the friendly games, Russia’s best basketballer, Andrey Kirilenko, believes the national team will prove they can play great game not only in Olympic qualification, but in London 2012 as well.
One win and one loss – that’s how the Russian national basketball team’s played out two recent friendlies against Macedonia and Greece.
But Team Russia’s coach David Blatt feels the results are the least of his worries when playing in practice matches.
“The results to me are less important,” he said. “You know I’ve never been a big practice game guy in terms of the results and it’s always proven to be the case that we do better in the actual tournaments then we do in practice and I hope that continues”.
The team’s captain Andrey Kirilenko, who’s had some highs and lows in the past season, losing out to Olympiakos in the Euroleague final, but snapping up the Most Valuable Player award for 2012 – also reiterated his coach’s sentiments, saying recent friendlies weren’t about getting a result.
“We’re really trying different sets, different combinations and different rosters in the four lineups,” he explained. “I think David Blatt knows what he’s doing and we’re definitely fighting to win the game, but I don’t think it’s a big, big issue for us, to be concentrated on the result right now. We’ve already shown everybody we can play a great quality of the game and we’re going to continue that.”
Friends and family were the few allowed in to watch their loved ones train one more time before their next stage of preparations.
And even Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko found the time to pop in to meet and greet the coach and players.
“The Minister of Sport was very kind and gentlemanly as he always is, and he let us know that he expects us to qualify,” Blatt stressed. “He also said ‘udachi’, so he wishes us good luck and we hope to make him and all of the Russian fans happy.”
Russia have concluded their training on home soil. Now they will head off to the US where they will play another three friendly games – two against Great Britain and one against Lithuania, before flying out to Caracas, Venezuela for the Olympic Qualification tournament which starts on July 2.
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