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Medvedenko Puts Club Ahead of Country - For Now

27 December 2003
From Johannes Berendt, PA International, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Lakers forward Stanislav Medvedenko hasn’t ruled out a comeback to Ukraine but his focus is firmly fixed on forging a successful NBA career.

The 24-year-old has called off all international duty in recent years to sharpen his skills in the world’s elite league, much to the ire of his national team which was a pale shadow of the side it might have been at the European Championships this year had he decided to play.

A Medvedenko-less Ukraine stumbled to losses against Turkey, Croatia and Greece.

The former BC Kyiv player has no regrets.

He told PA International he "rested, practised and spent time with his family" to prepare for his fourth NBA season.

It’s hard to argue with Medvedenko´s decision. His career has taken off stateside.

"I play over 15 minutes now and that's good for me," he said.

Playing in international competition is a source of conflict for clubs, whether they are in Europe or America, because of the physical demands on the players.

The NBA is a gruelling campaign, particularly for sides like the Lakers who play 82 regular-season games and then participate in the play-offs.

"When I came to the NBA, I did not have much time for the national team," Medvedenko said.

"The last time I played for them was like four years ago in a qualifier."

Medvedenko still "wants to play for the national team - maybe (in the) next qualifying games," but hasn’t made a concrete decision if he will return.

"I don't know yet. I play for the Lakers now. After that, when my contract is finished, I’ll think about it."

In fact, as a reserve behind the likes of Shaquille O´Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, Medvedenko is averaging career-highs in points (7.6), rebounds (3.2) and minutes (18.6).

The Lakers have enjoyed a fine start and Medvedenko relishes playing a role in their success.

"Everyone understands the game, and you can do what you do best," said Medvedenko, an accurate shooter and strong rebounder who runs the floor well. "It makes everything so much easier."

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