Change Likely For Russia Women

27 September 2012

Russia Head Coach Boris Sokolovskiy
Coach Boris Sokolovskiy was at the helm of Russia at EuroBasket Women 2007, when they took silver, and then returned in 2011 to lead the team to gold

The writing could be on the wall for Russia coach Boris Sokolovskiy.

The veteran tactician was able to lead the national team to gold at the EuroBasket Women in Poland last year, but the accomplishment was sandwiched between two disappointing results.

At the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women, Sokolovskiy's side suffered a heavy defeat to Belarus in the Quarter-Finals and only last month, Russia lost their Semi-Final to France at the Olympics and then fell to Australia in the bronze medal game.

Russia played without veteran center Maria Stepanova, one of the greatest players in the history of the women's game, and EuroBasket Women 2011 star Liudmila Sapova, with injuries keeping both players off the court.

But for a side that had reached the podium at the previous two Olympics, falling short this year was unacceptable.

At the executive committee meeting of the Russian Basketball Federation this week, men's team coach David Blatt was, not surprisingly, given a huge vote of confidence after he steered the team to a bronze medal at EuroBasket 2011 and the Olympics.

That accomplishment came after the national team claimed one of three places on offer at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.

Blatt has also guided the Russians to gold at EuroBasket 2007.

But change appeared imminent at the top of the women's team when the coaching commission chairman Yevgeny Gomelsky announced that Sokolovskiy and his staff had received a failing grade.

Russia have not ruled out that Sokolovskiy could sign a new deal and coach at next year's EuroBasket Women in France, where the team was recently drawn to face Sweden, Italy and Spain in Group B, but the likelihood is that someone new will grab the helm.

The secretary general of the Russian Basketball Federation, Natalia Galkina, said to Sport Express: "Of course, that is theoretically possible (that Sokolovskiy stays in charge).

"But in general, at a meeting of the executive committee a clear position was made public: the unsatisfactory performance of the women's team as well as the work of its coach.

"There were many discussions, statements, questions relating to both work at the Games themselves, and the preparations.

"The executive committee requested the advice of coaches in the near future to consider and nominate candidates for the Russian women's team coach.

"Sokolovskiy's contract ended simultaneously with the end of the Olympics, and the place of the head coach is currently vacant."

One name to surface as a possible replacement is Nadezhda boss Aleksandr Kovalev, who also worked as an assistant to Sokolovskiy on the national team.

His name was not discussed at the executive committee meeting, according to Galkina.

"We must keep in mind that many of the potential candidates have current contracts with clubs, and this must be taken into account in the negotiations," Galkina said.

"But in any event, before the end of the year the women's team head coach will be appointed."

As for casting the net wide and considering candidates from outside of Russia, especially when considering the success of American-born Blatt with the men's team, Galkina said: "At the moment, the federation is ready to consider any option."


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