Ukraine: Zaschuk - Early Exit Is No Surprise

21 September 2005

Ukraine coach Hennadiy Zaschuk believes the team's failure to make it past the preliminary round of the EuroBasket was wholly predictable.

A youthful Ukraine side suffered heavy defeats in all three of their Group A matches against Russia, Germany and Italy, ending their hopes of reaching the latter stages of the tournament which is being held in Serbia & Montenegro.

Not even the presence of star center Stanislav Medvedenko could save the Ukrainians who, according to Zaschuk, were just not experienced enough to challenge their rivals.

"Three teams in our group were much stronger than the Ukrainian team and won," he told Sport-Express.

"Moving into the final stage of the European Championship is a great achievement for us but a barrier at the same time.

"Our team had nine new players which is too many for great hopes."

However Zaschuk has admitted he was unhappy with the performance of Medvedenko, who returned to the national team for the EuroBasket following a five-year absence.

The 26-year-old, who plies his trade with NBA side LA Lakers, averaged 12.3 points per game but Zaschuk has still questioned the player's commitment.

"The European Championship for Medvedenko was only a stage of preparation for the NBA games, but it should have been vice versa," Zaschuk said.

"The NBA should have been preparation for the EuroBasket, but it wasn't."

Ukraine's disappointing EuroBasket campaign has led to heavy criticism of Zaschuk, with suggestions he should be replaced by an overseas coach.

However, Zaschuk has hit back at the comments.

"I'm not a magician and if somebody knows how to strengthen the national team, he is welcome to my place," he added.

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