Team Profile: Ukraine

EUROBASKET 2013

7. Sergii Gladyr (Ukraine)
Sergii Gladyr was Ukraine's top scorer during last summer's Qualification Round, averaging 12.4 points-per-game

REBUILDING OR IS A BIG SURPRISE POSSIBLE?

Although the Ukrainian national team is in the process of rebuilding with EuroBasket 2015 as the main goal, EuroBasket in Slovenia is expected to be a huge test for the squad.

With long time team captain Serhiy Lishchuk out and Oleksiy Pecherov missing the event as well, a generation of young players gets a chance to try on the national outfit and gain much needed international experience.

Look out for Maxym Korniyenko, who after an impressive 2012-13 season with BC Dnipro, signed with BC Donetsk in the offseason, to give team Ukraine some shot-blocking presence on the defensive end or Leonid Stefanishin, who is with the national team for the first time in his career, to ignite the crowd with some of his trade-mark dunks.

Another exciting addition to the team is newly naturalised guard Eugene 'Pooh' Jeter - a charismatic player, who can not only organise the game, but also take the last shot under pressure.

Some of the players that made the final cut and are with the team in Slovenia have had one of the longest summers of their lives. Having started the first camp back in July and played several games in China under coach Vitaliy Cherniy, they later joined the rest of the candidates in Yuzhne, where the Czar took over.

Ukraine went on to play friendlies against Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Russia in preparation for the action-packed month of September.

While the team's participation in EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania may be regarded as a failure by some, Ukraine, with legendary Mike Fratello at the helm, did learn their lesson: every point in each game counts - something the North American coaching staff needed to adjust to.

Playing in Klaipeda, Ukraine failed to advance past the group stage due to a 16-point loss to Georgia, which was a result of reserves playing out the game. The ensuing low coefficient in a three-team tie with Georgia and Bulgaria denied the yellow and blue team of appearing in the Second Round.

After the announcement of the agreement with coach Fratello, the Ukrainian Basketball Federation dramatically changed the national team experience for everyone involved. The coaching staff presented the candidates with a totally new way of practicing - something that was unusual and motivating for the majority of the players.

Now that the Czar, who is working with Ukraine for his third summer, is very well acquainted with the players, one can expect the team to achieve something outstanding in Slovenia, provided everybody stays healthy.

So far Ukraine's top result at a EuroBasket was 13th place. This happened twice, in 1997 and 2005. This time the Federation, the coaching staff and the players are all hoping to do much better in the final standings.


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