Andrei Kirilenko backs FIBA’s new competition windows

Former NBA and Russian international Andrei Kirilenko believes that FIBA’s new competition window are exactly what the sport needs.

Kirilenko, who retired in 2015 after a brief spell at CSKA Moscow is now the president of the Russian Basketball Federation and has been a heavy supporter of FIBA since he was appointed in the same year he called it a day.

He was recently in China, the host country for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and after seeing what the structure the qualifiers for the World Cup will take in, he was understandably on board.

“For us it’s very important and very clear: we never have a chance to see our national team during the season,” Kirilenko explained.

“The only time we see the national team is one month a year, about August. And of course, for the fans, it’s a disaster when you see your national team only once. With the New competition system, every three months, you’re going to see your national team, your players in front of the fans. Different cities have a chance to see the national team. It’s a good idea.

“Players can reset their minds, taking time off from the professional season with their clubs, go to the national team and see everybody, their friends, fans of the country and you kind of reset your mind for the season and you come back to the club with new emotions.”

Some fans, players and coaches have not shared Kirilenko’s sentiment about the new FIBA international window, which will no doubt see NBA, EuroLeague and EuroCup players decline to play because of their club duties. However, it will provide a chance for lesser known players to show their worth when the qualifiers begin in November.

“Physically and mentally, it’s going to be very refreshing for your mind to see your friends who you grew up with,” Kirilenko said.

“For example, when I was playing, I had a lot of guys I played with in the youth national team – the cadets. We grew up and finally, we were in the (senior) national team. I played outside the country. So coming back to your country, you get to play for your fans, your family and your friends who get to come to the games. You come back and you have a chance to have some fellowship.”