Belov No Stranger to Winning

20 April 2004
Sarah Cohen

He has known the taste of victory since before his debut with the Soviet Union national team at the 1968 World Championships in Uruguay. He honed his taste for it through four European Championship victories and as a key player in the Soviet defeat of the United States in the 1972 Olympic Final. 

“My philosophy is what is most important: winning,” Belov said.

This philosophy, which Belov recalls carrying with him as a young national team player, now applies to his leadership and coaching of the Russian Club team Ural Great Perm.

“All of our work and efforts are to win,” he said about the team, which has emerged has a Russian and European basketball superpower.

Ural Great Perm — a qualifier for the FIBA Europe League Final Four and recent winner of the Russian Cup — has come a long way since Belov began steering its course in mid-1999. 

That year, the Club did not even break out of the Preliminary Round of the Korac Cup, but it has managed to achieve a 15-5 record in the 2003-2004 FEL Season.

Belov said he has spent the past four years “reconstructing” the team, which has included the recruitment of younger players, like now 25-year-old Ksistof Lavrinovic. Lavrinovic accompanied the Lithuanian national team to the gold medal in the 2003 European Championship.

“I think he is one of the most interesting players in Europe,” Belov said about Lavrinovic. “He came back after a long break and is working hard to accomplish a good sport level.”

Belov said that competing in the European Championship improved Lavrinovic’s confidence.

The same could be said of the team’s other players, as they build their repertoires of international play within the FEL.

“It is good for us to play in this League because the players have a chance to play more games than they would just playing in the Russian National League,” Belov said.

Belov’s strategies for intense training that focuses on the individual players’ strengths and weaknesses have also contributed to the revamped Ural Great Perm.

“We train all season to develop our strengths,” Belov said. “We have to work individually with a player. If we do that, it allows us to better enhance the team.

“If the players improve, the team improves.”

Though a simple enough formula in itself, the recent successes of the team prove Belov’s strategies work. Belov had further proof as his team came off of a Russian Cup victory over UNICS Kazan and prepared to face CSKA Moscow, whom it defeated on 16th April for the Cup title.

“That victory confirmed that we are going in a good direction, that the work we do is giving us results,” he said.

Ural Great can garner confidence from its victory over Kazan in the Semi-Final of the Russian Cup, but Belov recognises the high level of competition in the Final Four. Ural Great’s opponent, again Kazan, enters the Final Four with a FEL record of 15-2, 13% more victories than Ural Great.

“I believe the game will be difficult, but the score is open,” Belov said.

Belov said this Semi-Final game is the most important game that the team will face in the Final Four because it determines who goes to the Final.

When asked what he was most looking forward to for the Final Four, Belov responded, “We are looking forward to winning.”

Ural Great Perm faces UNICS Kazan at 18:30 on Thursday, 22nd April in Kazan, Russia.

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