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Ukraine: European Hopefuls Aim To Go One Step Further

18 October 2005

After losing in the final of last year's FIBA Europe League to Dynamo St Petersburg in April, BC Kyiv have targeted winning the re-named EuroCup this time around.

Kyiv had led that game 25-18 going into the second quarter, but 24 points from American forward Kelly McCarty helped Dynamo to a 85-74 victory.

Kyiv's team spirit was crucial to their success last campaign, but despite losing several key players, coach Renato Pasquali believes the new, younger-looking team can be just as successful.

"Basically my philosophy for this season is the same as last," said Pasquali.

Ratko Varda (Besiktas Istanbul)
Ratko Varda is a key new signing for Kyiv
"This year we have a younger team so we'll use their speed to our advantage.

"Our offence will be built using big players while in defence we'll be more aggressive."

Kyiv were heavily involved in the transfer market activity this summer, snapping up two Serbo-Montenegrins who have played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Ratko Varda, who they signed from Besiktas, was one of the best centers of last season's FIBA Europe League, while Dragan Lukovski was part of the Yugoslav national team that won the 1998 World Championship in Greece.

"I feel great in Kyiv because everyone here does their best to accomplish our goals," said Varda.

But foreign players are not the only ones hoping to be success stories at Kyiv.

Ukrainians Andrei Lebediev and newcomer Artem Butskyy will shore up the defence, while veteran Leonid Yailo, who has played for Azovmash Mariupol for the last two seasons, will add to the offence.

"I like how Butskyy acts," said Pasquali of his new signing, adding, "he is very strong at defence and he understands his role on the court.

"We tried to choose the best players in the market at the moment, but whether it works or not we will see in few weeks.

"For the moment we have the players for all the positions but we're not satisfied with how some of them act.

"We are ready for the Ukrainian championship, but not for the EuroCup - the level of this competition is much higher," stressed Pasquali. 

"Last year our performances were poor until February, but we managed to adjust.

"Right now we don't have time for correcting mistakes as we have to be ready by October 25 (when their EuroCup campaign begins)."

"We don't have much time for experimenting with players, but I think we can make the right decisions and know our game by the start of the EuroCup season."

One player who Pasquali can rely on straight away is guard LaMarr Greer, a seasoned veteran of European club competition. The 29-year old Greer was Kyiv's top performer in the FIBA Europe League last season, averaging 17.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.6 apg.

Kyiv also welcome back 210 cm forward/center Kresimir Loncar.

"We need three home wins and at least one away victory, if we can do this we will be in the next round," Pasquali said.

"But it is going to be a tough job because this year the level of the EuroCup is higher than it was in the Europe League last year."

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