Blatt Still In The Frame After Olympics

04.07.2012

BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Russia Head Coach David Blatt with Sergey Monya
Russia Head Coach David Blatt with Sergey Monya during EuroBasket 2011 where Russia won the bronze medal

David Blatt's contract as the coach of Russia's national team will end after the London Games.

The president of the country's basketball federation, Alexander Krasnenkov, says there is a chance the tactician will remain in charge for next year's EuroBasket.

"We'll see," Krasnenkov said to FIBAEurope.com.

"Blatt's contract is over after the Olympic Games.

"It doesn't mean we'll just part.

"We'll sit after the Olympic Games and talk."

Blatt has coached Russia since the Qualification Round for EuroBasket 2007.

He famously guided the national team to the gold medal five years ago in Madrid.

Last year, he steered the Russians to bronze at EuroBasket 2011.

Blatt has also coached Maccabi Tel Aviv the past two seasons and will remain in charge of the Israeli giants.

"Maccabi wants him to focus on Maccabi and we want him to focus on Russia," Krasnenkov said.

"But he has two contracts and has to cope somehow.

"He's trying his best on both fronts and we'll see how it goes."

Blatt is hugely popular in Russia but there is another star on the rise in the coaching profession in former national team point guard Vasily Karasev.

Put in charge of Triumph Lyubertsy during the 2011-12 campaign, Karasev guided the team on a terrific run to the EuroChallenge Final Four and also a top-four finish in the Russian PBL.

If Blatt were not to continue, Karasev would be considered for the post.

"We as a federation have appointed him as a head coach of the second national team which is now in China for the Stankovic Cup," Krasnenkov said.

"That will be the team that competes in Kazan for the World University Games."

Meanwhile, Karasev's son, Sergey, was a big part of Triumph's success and has this summer found his way into the senior team at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament despite being only 18.

7. Sergey Karasev (Triumph Lyubertsy)
Sergey Karasev is still only 18 years old but is already part of Russia's senior national team, hunting for a spot in the Olympics

Last summer is when Sergey Karasev raised Blatt's eyebrows by winning the dunking contest during the U18 All-Star Game in Kaunas at the EuroBasket in Lithuania.

"Probably that was the moment for Karasev to show himself and for Blatt to get this feeling that this guy has good potential," Krasnenkov said.

"This is also the talent of a coach to identify the talent.

"And these two come together and now he's in the national team."

As for Karasev following in the footsteps of his father by playing for Russia, Krasnenkov said philosophically: "Like we know from world history, there is a talent which is bestowed upon everyone of us.

"But you have to work on this talent. You just don't put it on the ground. I think he is a hard worker. He wants to play at a good level and he goes after what he wants. If you work hard and you have talent, everything will be okay."

Krasnenkov also had some interesting thoughts on an iconic figure in the women's team, Maria Stepanova.

The UMMC Ekaterinburg center suffered a serious knee injury earlier this year that knocked her out of the Olympics and raised questions about her future, and the potential for success of Russia's women's team in London.

"We have a lot of injuries to our main players," Krasnenkov said.

"We've had to find substitutes for them.

"We started quite early for our preparations.

"We're hoping the substitutes will do their best, 100%, for the players who aren't here like Maria Stepanova, Marina Karpunina and some others as well.

"Maria does hope to come back to the national team. She asked me a question about going to Brazil for the (2016) Olympics and whether or not she can go with us.

"I think she's very determined to come back and play for the next Olympics.

"She was in good shape but unfortunately got this injury. But this is sports.

"She is 30 plus already, so it's difficult to stay fit all the time, but she's a great player and we're looking forward to her coming back."


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