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Krka, Samara Go Back To The Future

27 September 2013

EUROCHALLENGE

32. Aaron Miles (Krasnye Krylia)
Veteran guard Aaron Miles is staying another season at Krasnye Krylia

Two of the three most recent EuroChallenge champions return to the competition this season and both have chosen to stick by, or return to winning formulas.

Reigning EuroChallenge champions Krasnye Krylia Samara will continue with successful head coach Sergey Bazarevich at the helm.

Bazarevich, a former Russian legend during his playing career, has transformed the fortunes of the club since he was handed the reins of the team in 2011.

Under Bazarevich, Samara not only earned their first European distinction but also conquered back-to-back Russian Cup titles and reached the quarter-finals of the VTB United League last season, where they fell to eventual champions CSKA Moscow.

With Bazarevich continuing his work in Samara, it was only natural that the player who functions as the coach's extension on the court would follow suit.

Aaron Miles will therefore continue orchestrating Krasnye Krylia's game for one more season and will lead their effort to defend their EuroChallenge title.

Last season, the 30-year-old point guard led the competition in assists (6.9 apg) and was the third-best in steals, with 1.9 per game.

Krasnye Krylia have also retained the services of big men Anton Pushkov and Yuri Vasiliev, who made valuable contributions from the bench last season.

The club has decided to bring in reinforcements that will enhance the Russian core of the team with combo guard Anton Ponkrashov being the star signing of the off-season.

The 27-year-old EuroBasket 2007 gold medallist will provide experience and all-round play in the backcourt, which was also bolstered with the arrival of fellow Russian veteran Victor Keyru.

Krka Novo Mesto meanwhile, who had conquered the EuroChallenge title in 2011, have chosen to bring back the architect of that success, coach Aleksandar Dzikic.

Under the Serbian tactician, the Slovenian club had enjoyed that year the most successful season in their history, as apart from the European crown they had also conquered the domestic league and cup double.

KRKA Head Coach Aleksandar Dzikic
Aleksandar Dzikic led Krka to the EuroChallenge title in 2011

Dzikic, who coached Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas and the U20 Serbia national team after his first spell at Krka, will be able to count on a very familiar frontcourt upon his return to Novo Mesto.

Krka have announced that they have also agreed terms with big man Christopher Booker, who had also departed Novo Mesto after their triple-crown success and played in Belgium with Telenet Oostende and in Greece with Panionios Athens.

The 32-year-old American was one of the main reasons for Krka's run to the top of the podium in 2011, as he had averaged 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in the EuroChallenge that season.

He will form a formidable frontline partnership with veteran Slovenian center Smiljan Pavic, who has remained at the club since then and averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in the EuroChallenge last season.

A player that also formed part of that 2011 Krka side but is now expected to have a leading role in the team is young Slovenian international Edo Muric.

The 21-year-old small forward was Krka's top scorer last season in both the Adriatic League and the EuroChallenge and played an important role in his national team's EuroBasket campaign in September.

Muric averaged 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game as an impact sub to help EuroBasket 2013 hosts Slovenia finish in fifth place and qualify for next year's FIBA World Cup.

Krasnye Krylia were drawn in Regular Season Group B in this year's EuroChallenge, together with Hungarian side Atomerömü SE, Romanians CSM Oradea and the Turks of Royal Hali Gaziantep.

Krka meanwhile will do battle in Group F with Russian side Ural Ekaterinburg, the Hungarians of Fortress Jaszberenyi and old foes Tofas Bursa, of Turkey.


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