The Focus Is On Medals

5. Alexander Varnakov (Russia)
Russia faced sudden elimination from any medal dreams today but Trushkin and his teammates responded well and beat France down the stretch

For 31 minutes in the opening Quarter-Final of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship it seemed like the same old story.

Russia arrived to their game against France as clear favorites after losing the first game in the competition in double overtime and since then collected 5 wins in a row.

Yet until that point in the game Russia looked like anything but favorites.

France was in control, held a 5 point lead and balls were slipping from the Russian hands or simply going out of bounds after another pass with no address.

Russia has never survived a quarter-final game in an U18 European Championship Men, and all signs showed it's going to be yet another episode of the same dish.

Yet, today was a historical day as the Russian came out of nowhere with great fighting spirit and character, to finally win in overtime 73-68 and climb one step from the title game into the Semi-Finals header versus Latvia tomorrow.

One of the main reasons behind this recovery is Vladislav Trushkin who not only finished as the top scorer and rebounder today with 22 and 9, and not only lead his team in rebounds (6.9), blocks (1.3) and just 2 points from being also the best scorer (13.1), but also played a key role in those unorthodox minutes.

The 2.00m forward scored twice from long distance to play a key role in a 12-4 run which put Russia on top.

Later he added another three pointer in overtime and in total scored half of his points in the last quarter and extra period.

Yet, his legs stay on the ground.

"What we did today isn't a historical day for me," he attacks from the start.

"In order to make something historical we need two more wins to get that gold medal of the championship," he exposes his champion mentality.

Trying to figure out what was different now doesn't strike the Tatarstan born talent as something unique.

"In the break before the last quarter we spoke about how we must get our act together and start to do what we know, stay focus and win this game," he shares.

No less than 4 of the leading players on this Russian team are 1993 born and were members of the U16 team last year in the European Championship.

Trushkin is one of them and he clearly remembers how just one year ago, in another Lithuanian city, Russia arrived to the quarters once again as cut-clear favorites, but eventually lost to Serbia in overtime.

"We all remember that game, of course, and I think it only made us stronger this time," he adds.

"When France had that lead in the 4th quarter we had this feeling like it's now or never, and if we don't do something now we'll never have another chance.

"It doesn't have to do a lot with basketball, I think it's more psychology that brought us this win."

The athletic forward also finds logic in the reasons for the almost annual breakdown of the past teams and protects his fellow Russian players.

"I believe it happened so many times because other teams have much more experience than us, as they play a lot of friendly games, and also during the season against each other, while we face these situation mostly in the championships and then experience talks," he explains.

Trushkin is ranked among the top 10 in no less than 6 statistical categories including steals (2.1 - 5th), defensive rebounds (5.6 - 9th) and blocked shots (1.3 - 8th) which clearly tells how much of a defensive threat he is next to his ability to hurt the opponent with points around the rim and from the perimeter.

"Right now I play the power forward position, but I want to develop also at the small forward so in the future I'll be able to play in both forward positions," he tells.

In order to achieve that dream Trushkin has left his home town and moved to play for a club in Moscow that focuses on the development of young kids under the eyes and hands of the U18 head coach Sergey Skorochkin and one of his assistants.

"I still have a long way to go, and must continue to work hard if I want to have results.

"But first we have a chance to win a medal here and we must focus on that,"



31.07.2010 - Semi-Finals
31.07.2010 - Trushkin
29.07.2010 - Knock Out Stage

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