Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt may meet Yulia Anikeyeva, the new head of the Russian Basketball Federation (RFB), on Nov. 1 for talks regarding his potential return to the helm of the Russian national team, Moscow’s Sport Express daily newspaper reported Monday.
Earlier, local media speculated that the two might meet to discuss the issue at the Alexander Gomelsky Cup, the traditional preseason tournament held in Moscow. Blatt spent the weekend in the Russian capital as Maccabi placed fourth in the exhibition extravaganza that also featured hosts CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos Athens and Lokomotiv Kuban of Krasnodar. Anikeyeva was expected to attend, but had to skip the event due to illness.
According to Sport Express, she is now likely to meet with Blatt on Nov. 1 in Krasnodar during Maccabi’s visit to the southern Russian city to play hosts Lokomotiv Kuban in Round 3 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague’s group stage. Maccabi and Russian newcomers have been drawn in Group D with Panathinaikos, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, Crvena zvezda Telekom Belgrade and the winner of the upcoming qualifying tournament held Oct. 1-4 in Vilnius.
In an interview carried by Sport Express Monday, when asked if he pondered his return to coach Team Russia, Blatt replied he was “open to dialogue,” adding he had never said he was leaving for good and needed a rest after the London Olympics. As the 54-year-old coach keeps his options open, it remains to be seen whether he and RFB would eventually hammer out a deal.
Earlier this month, Russia suffered a huge setback at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia placing last in a six-team pool with a single win in five games. The premature first-round exit was the team’s worst finish in post-Soviet era as Russia eventually missed out on one of the Top 7 places that secured automatic 2014 World Cup berths.
The team’s head coach, 42-year-old Vasily Karasyov, debuted in the new role barely a month and a half after his appointment. Following Russia’s catastrophic performance in Slovenia, he came under fire as the calls from public and media for Blatt’s return became louder. The American-Israeli tactician spent six years (2006-2012) as head coach of Russia, guiding his team to victory at EuroBasket 2007 and bronze medals at EuroBasket 2011 and 2012 Olympics.