Ukraine coach Mike Fratello has begun preparing his squad for Eurobasket in Lithuania, by taking them to Klaipeda – where they will play their Group D games.
The former Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies coach, turned TV analyst has taken the national team to Lithuania’s third largest city to begin training camp.
Not only will Ukraine train in Klaipeda, but they will also play their warm-up games there too, so that they can grow accustomed to the city situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River.
“We go to work,” Fratello said. “We put the system in, the offensive system, the defensive system. We try to play different combinations of people together so we can try and find out and get a feel for who the best groups are together and working towards our goal for the future.”
Before Ukraine headed to Lithuania though, coach Fratello held a team meeting with the coaching staff and the players, to layout his plans for the summer ahead.
“I was happy to see everyone, I thought we had a great meeting,” Fratello acknowledged.
“We had a great input from the players so that we began the process of becoming a team together and working towards our goal for the future.”
The legendary NBA coach knows that it won’t be easy to advance from Group D, which includes Slovenia, Russia, Belgium, Bulgaria and Georgia. But Fratello has been encouraged by the spirit of his players.
Fratello said: “I want to pay special thanks to the players who had come in earlier and gave themselves about a week to get ready and try to get their bodies ready for the beginning of practices.
“Other players who couldn’t make it, we gave them programs they could work on in their respective cities and hopefully they were able to do that.”
Ukraine progressed to the finals in Lithuania due to FIBA’s decision to expand the number of teams from 16 to 24. Their first game will be against old rivals Russia on August 31st.