Russia mix veterans with debutants in their EuroBasket squad

Christian Petersen / Getty Images Europe
Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images Europe

Russia head coach Evgeny Pashutin announced on Tuesday his final 12-man EuroBasket 2015 roster, which features an interestingly balanced mix of seasoned veterans and up-and-coming debutants.

Pashutin can count on a wealth of experience in the backcourt, despite the fact that star guard Aleksey Shved is unable to participate in the big event due to lower back pains throughout the summer.

New Russia team captain Anton Ponkrashov and vice-captain Sergey Monya are the two players on this team who have a EuroBasket gold medal in their possession, as they were members of the 2007 Russian side which David Blatt steered to the top of the podium in Spain.

Vitaly Fridzon made his senior national team debut at EuroBasket 2005, was unlucky to miss out on the golden tournament in Spain but is nonetheless poised to step out at his fifth EuroBasket come Saturday.

The sharp-shooting guard, together with Ponkrashov, Monya and playmaker Dmitry Khvostov, who has suited up for Russia in every major tournament since the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup, tasted the bronze medal success in the 2012 Olympics.

Pashutin will have to make do without Timofey Mozgov and Sasha Kaun but his most experienced player in the frontcourt this summer is also the Russian international who has been the most eager for EuroBasket 2015 to tip off.

Andrey Vorontsevich was hailed as one of the biggest talents of Russian basketball when he debuted in the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the age of 21 and turned into a linchpin of the national team in the years that followed.

The power forward missed out however on the glorious campaign for Russia at the 2012 London Games and in 2013, he sprained his ankle barely 10 days before the team boarded the plane to Slovenia and he had to drop out of that tournament too.

Vorontsevich will be flanked by the equally experienced Semen Antonov, who can play at both forward positions, as well as by three younger players who will get their first taste of a major tournament in Montpellier.

Power forward Andrey Zubkov, who was an U20 Russian international but played in senior level only in last summer’s 2nd Qualification Round, is coming off the best club season of his career as he averaged 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds with Khimki Moscow Region in the VTB United League.

Ruslan Pateev has joined the senior national team this summer after featuring in the 2010 U20 European Championship while fellow center Andrei Desiatnikov who, at 21, is the youngest player on the Russian EuroBasket 2015 roster, is also a strong candidate for tallest player in the tournament, standing at 2.20m.

Another debutant on the Russian team this summer, albeit significantly more veteran than the young blood in the frontcourt, is 28-year-old guard Evgeny Baburin who played an important supporting role in Nizhny Novgorod, the surprise package of this past Euroleague season.

“The mood in the team shows that every player is now ready for the real battles,” commented Monya.

“We have finally completed the friendlies which, to be honest, were tiresome because of the constant trips and we are eager for the start of the official games.

“In the latest games we gained in confidence and the way we played has boosted our morale,” the veteran small forward added.

Russia play their EuroBasket 2015 Group A opener on Saturday against Israel and will then take on Poland, Finland, France and finally Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Russia EuroBasket 2015 roster:

Dmitry Khvostov, Evgeny Baburin, Vitaly Fridzon, Anton Ponkrashov, Egor Vyaltsev, Sergey Monya, Andrey Vorontsevich, Semen Antonov, Nikita Kurbanov, Andrey Zubkov, Ruslan Pateev, Andrei Desiatnikov.

Written by FIBA