BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Zakhar Pashutin celebrating JR Holden's winning basket in the EuroBasket 2007 final, the most treasured memory of his career |
Russian veteran Zakhar Pashutin decided this week the time had come to call it a day as a professional basketball player.
No one can go on forever.
A 1.96m shooting guard, Pashutin turned 38 on 3 May.
He was a steady performer for his various clubs in Europe, and his country.
It's not hard for Pashutin to identify the best moment of his career.
"There were a lot," he said, when asked by the Sport Express newspaper.
"In each team there were good moments and also disappointments.
"But the most vivid emotions felt, of course, was the victory of the Russian national team at EuroBasket 2007."
No one in that Russian squad that was led by David Blatt could ever forget 2007 in Madrid, when the national team that had to go through a Division A campaign just to qualify for the EuroBasket not only played well but reached the Final and beat hosts and then world champions Spain.
Pashutin had a great run in Spain that year.
He averaged 8.2 points per contest and shot a scintillating 51.9% (14 of 27) from behind the arc.
That gold medal game was incredible.
It finished, 60-59.
Russia were the big underdogs but they controlled the tempo of the game, and JR Holden hit a short, go-ahead jumper in the waning seconds to silence the crowd.
|The Russian guard went up against numerous great opponents - like Sarunas Jasikevicius- in his long career, but he has no doubt who was the best teammate - Andrei Kirilenko|
Spain then lost as Pau Gasol's long jump shot from the top of the key stayed out.
Russia's players, including Pashutin, celebrated on the court as if they had entered a basketball nirvana, and Andrei Kirilenko was named the MVP of the EuroBasket.
Pashutin competed with and against many great players in his time, but nothing was as fine as to be alongside Kirilenko, despite his status as a superstar.
"To play with him was very easy, and pleasant," Pashutin said.
Sportsmen make decisions that shape the rest of their lives.
When asked if he could change anything about his career, Pashutin answered: "Nothing, except one, perhaps.
"In 2000, before the Olympics in Sydney, I had a chance to get to the NBA. And a real chance, according to the agent.
"But I really wanted to get to the Games and therefore did not go to North America in the summer.
"And then the chance was missed, and I stayed in Europe."
Even so, Pashutin had a great experience on the old continent.
He played for Spartak St Petersburg, Avtodor Saratov, Pinar Karsiyaka, ASVEL, CSKA Moscow, Ural Great Perm and UNICS Kazan.
"I do not complain," Pashutin said.
"I am grateful to all the players and coaches with whom fate brought me."