One of the most outstanding and eye-catching players in the championship is Viktor Keirou, after all, it’s not everyday that you see a black player on a Russian side.
Keirou, if anyone has any doubts, was born in Russia and obviously speaks the language fluently. But if that wasn’t enough to catch the eye, it’s Keirou’s game that really attracts attention.
There are many players with African origins that play in Europe, but most of them have adopted the local game style. Keirou, on the other hand, plays like he comes straight from the streets of New York, either that, or the latest And1 video.
Keirou is quick, athletic, shoots the ball well and is almost unstoppable in the open court. In 5 games he has averaged 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2 assists.
Unlike most of the top players in the championship this is the first time Keirou has played with the national team in this level. "I didn’t play with the U18 or U18 teams so this is the first time for me in a European Championship, and it’s a great experience," he says.
|Keirou will be back in a Unics Kazan uniform next season|
"I made a lot of progress in the last year so I was invited to the Semi-finals round to play with the national team and we made it here."
You missed a couple of games during the championship and then came back, what happened there?
"I injured my leg during one of the warm ups and missed two games, but even after that I didn’t show my real ability here because of that injury. Only in the first game here I played like I can. I can do much better than that."
It’s pretty unusual to see a black player on a young Russian national team…
"My father was born in Nigeria and later on moved to Sierra Leone. Then he moved to Russia to study and he met my mother. That’s the whole story.
I grew up in Rostov and 3 years ago moved to Unics Kazan to play in their junior team. Last season I played for the first team, and we won the FIBA Europe League which that was huge, but I didn’t get a lot of minutes so I spoke with the coach and we decided it will be better if I move to another team. So I finished the season in Euras Ekaterinburg where I spent much more time on court."
What about the future?
"I’m going back to Unics’ first team and hope to get my minutes, and if not maybe I’ll go to play for another team again. I really want to go to the NBA one day and I plan to go full power on that, but we still have to wait and see when I’m going to try that."
How do you handle the cold weather in Kazan?
"In Rostov, where I grew up, it’s not that cold because it’s in southern Russia. In Kazan sometimes you can’t even leave the house and I don’t really like that. Obviously it also makes it impossible to play basketball then, and I hate that. In Ekaterinburg the weather was even worse."
Your style is more American than European, where did you pick that up?
"Mostly on tapes. I watch NBA games all the time and try to do what I see on the tapes. I try to be like T-Mac and Kobe, but number 1 for me is always Micheal Jordan. He’s on top of everyone else. I like to play the shooting-guard better than point-guard. I can play the point-guard if the team needs it, but if I need to choose, it will be the number two position."