Cautious Ukraine Rely On Team Spirit

03 September 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Mike Fratello - Ukraine
"We have guys who can score 20 or 22 points in one game and the next night another player might do the same" - Ukraine head coach Mike Fratello

In an effort to give players that were nursing injuries as much time as possible to recuperate, Ukraine took the unusual step of travelling to Slovenia with 14 players and make two cuts on the eve of EuroBasket 2013.

After the team's first practice session on Slovenian soil, head coach Mike Fratello has decided that the official 12-man roster he will submit to FIBA Europe later on Tuesday will be made up of Dmytro Zabirchenko, Ihor Zaytsev, Dmitro Gliebov, Maksym Pustozvonov, Viacheslav Krautsov, Sergii Gladyr, Artem Pustoviy, Oleksander Mishula, Oleksander Lypovyy, Eugene Jeter, Kyryll Natyazhko and Maksym Korniyenko.

Fratello had not hidden his desire to have on the team Artur Drozdov, who put in some solid performances for Ukraine in last summer's Qualification Round, but the 33-year-old forward was ultimately ruled out with injury.

The American tactician will still be able to count though on the trio on Sergeii Gladyr, Viacheslav Kravtsov, and Dmytro Zabirchenko, who he expects to be the leaders of the team as 'veteran players on the national team, with a lot of international experience on their shoulders'.

This doesn't mean however that he expects them to carry the weight of the team on their shoulders.

"We rely on the depth of our team and on team basketball, unlike our rivals we don't have the stars who will pour in 25 points in every game but we have guys who can score 20 or 22 points in one game and the next night another player might do the same," Fratello said.

"Ukrainian Basketball has to undergo a necessary growth process and we are committed to a reach the level of strong teams, which are Spain, Greece and Serbia in recent years.

"Montenegro is progressing very well, like Turkey and Slovenia, but this level is created step by step, not during one year."

Ukraine's short-term goal of course is a good showing at EuroBasket 2013, which tips off on Wednesday. Fratello's men are going up against Belgium in their First Round Group A opener.

"Our goal is to win games, that is why we spent so much time together, for this we have been working all these days," Fratello said.

"I would like us to continue to grow, to maintain a consistent high level, to feel like a strong team that can fight for each game, and make a name for ourselves among other teams."


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