By FIBA Europe
Coach Yevgen Murzin has been appointed as the successor of Mike Fratello at the helm of the Ukrainian national team, the Basketball Federation of the country announced Thursday.
The 50-year-old Murzin will therefore steer the yellow-blues to EuroBasket 2015, where they will play in Group D in Riga against Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and hosts Latvia.
“We are almost at the finish line of another national team cycle and there’s no time to make any drastic changes,” Ukrainian federation president Mikhail Brodsky told basket.com.ua, in a reminder that the appointment comes only 92 days before EuroBasket 2015 tips off.
“We’ll see how everybody does in their positions and will make future decisions based on the outcome of the EuroBasket.”
President Brodsky also announced that Oleksandr Lokhmanchuk, who is Murzin’s assistant at BC Goverla, will assume the same role on the national team too.
The federation is also nearing an agreement with Denis Zhuravlev, a former assistant of Fratello, to continue his participation in the coaching staff.
Ukraine’s new head coach is a former international player who took part at EuroBasket 1997 and last suited up for Ukraine during their qualification campaign for EuroBasket 2001, shortly before his retirement.
Murzin’s coaching career commenced immediately after retiring as a player, since he became an assistant on Budivelnyk Kyiv while he also remained close to the national team, by joining its coaching staff.
His first experience in charge of a team representing Ukraine came when he was trusted with coaching the nation’s University Team, a role he maintained for two years.
In 2009, Murzin assumed his current position as head coach of BC Goverla Ivano-Frankivsk.
Goverla were promoted to the Ukrainian Superleague that same year and, under Murzin’s guidance, they reached the play-off semi-finals in 2011 and the Ukrainian Cup final in 2013.
The Ivano-Frankivsk side competed in the Superleague this season with an almost entirely Ukrainian roster and finished in eighth place, although due to the competition system it was not enough to earn them a spot in the play-offs.
President Brodsky announced Fratello would not continue at the helm shortly after being elected, last week.
In being charged with continuing Fratello’s legacy on the national team bench Murzin has been handed a demanding task, as Ukraine achieved their best result under the legendary American coach.
At EuroBasket 2013, Ukraine managed to qualify to the quarter-finals for the first time in the history of the tournament and claimed a sixth-place finish.
This earned them a maiden trip to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, last September in Spain, where they ended up taking fifth spot in Group C, with two wins in five games.