Savrasenko Joins Russian Roster

11 June 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Aleksey Savrasenko (Russia)
Aleksey Savrasenko might return to the Russia line-up, just after his retirement from club basketball

Veteran Russian center Alexey Savrasenko who, in principal, retired from the game with the conclusion of the VTB United league finals, might see action in a fifth EuroBasket after all, in September in Slovenia.

Less than a week after announcing an 18-strong preliminary roster for EuroBasket 2013, Russia head coach Fotis Katsikaris took the decision to add Savrasenko, who turns 34 in February and last played for the national team in 2008, to his squad.

The Greek tactician wanted to add more size to his frontcourt and few choices could help in that direction more than the 2.17m frame of the experienced Savrasenko, who had a good season coming off the bench for Eurocup winners Lokomotiv Kuban.

"We have decided to invite Alexey Savrasenko for several reasons," Katsikaris said.

"As you know, [CKSA Moscow center] Sasha Kaun will not be able to play for the national team this year, so Alex will help us to reduce the deficit of big men.

"Savrasenko is a player with a great experience and the right attitude, I know him very well since the time when he was playing in Greece."

The 34-year-old center actually started his professional career and played seven years in the Mediterranean country, winning two league titles with Olympiacos, before joining CSKA in 2003.

"Now, in the final series of the VTB United League [against CSKA], Alex looked in very good shape and I am looking forward to him joining the national team training camp in July," Katsikaris added.

Savrasenko joined Lokomotiv, the club of his native city of Krasnodar, last summer and helped them in an enormously successful campaign that saw them defeat Uxue Bilbao in the Eurocup final and finish as runners-up in the VTB league.

He had almost decided to call it a day last Friday, when Lokomotiv fell to CSKA in Game 4 of the VTB league finals and their season ended, until he received a phone call from Katsikaris and he was presented with the prospect of playing at one more EuroBasket.

"In my conversation with the coach I told him I was ready to help the national team, I am ready to make the maximum effort," Savrasenko said.

"I have always said that I am ready to help the national team and be part of it when needed.

"I will be the oldest guy there, but it does not bother me.

"I am well acquainted with all the guys, so there will be no difficulties in communication.

"At Lokomotiv I was also the veteran and, in my opinion, it worked.

"I am confident that at the national team we will have the same friendly atmosphere as before."

Savrasenko, who became a senior Russian international at EuroBasket 2001, last suited up for the national team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He has won three Euroleague titles with Olympiacos and CSKA, but the brightest moment of his career came with Russia, at EuroBasket 2007.

He averaged 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as that fantastic Russian side that featured the likes of Andrei Kirilenko, Victor Khryapa and JR Holden upset hosts Spain in the final to win the gold medal in Madrid.

Russia were drawn in First Round Group D at EuroBasket 2013 and will do battle with Greece, Italy, Turkey, Finland and Sweden.


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