MOSCOW, August 28. /TASS/. Andrey Kirilenko, the newly-elected president of the Russian Basketball Federation (RBF), urged the country’s basketball fans to render all-embracing support for the national team ahead of the 2015 FIBA European Championships next month.
"The boys are all together and shouldering each other," Kirilenko said in an interview with TASS. "They are really in a complicated situation at the moment, but we have proved on many occasions that the worse the situation is the better we play."
The RBF announced earlier in the week that three Russian national basketball team’s players, including squad’s captain Anton Ponkrashov, will miss the 2015 FIBA European Championship next month due to their health condition.
The federation said that Ponkrashov recently underwent a knee surgery, Yegor Vyaltsev was suffering from pains in one of his knees, while Yevgeny Voronov sustained an ankle injury not long ago.
Yevgeny Pashutin, the head coach of the national team, later announced that Ponkrashov and Vyaltsev returned to the team, while Voronov decided to stay away.
"The only thing I asked the boys about is to fight until the very end in each game," Kirilenko said. "If there are medals eventually I will be glad more than anybody else. But we have to be realistic, not to exaggerate our expectations but not downplaying the capabilities of our team."
"There can be any result in the end, but I want to see the team of fighters in each single game," Kirilenko added.
The Russian national team began practices for the 2015 FIBA European Championship, to be held between September 5 and 20, on July 13. The championship will not only decide the title of the best European basketball team, but also serves as a qualifying tournament for the national teams’ spots at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.
Kirilenko was elected the new president of the RBF on August 25. The RBF’s elections of the president and members of the Executive Committee were held on Tuesday within the frames of the federation’s extraordinary conference. Before Tuesday, Kirilenko and Dmitry Domani, the general manager of the national men’s basketball team, were the only two candidates to take the helm of the federation.
The RBF, however, announced on its website on Tuesday morning that Domani, who was the last-minute nominee proposed by a number of Russian regional basketball federations, decided to withdraw his candidacy.
Speaking ahead of the voting procedure on Tuesday Kirilenko said that the Russian basketball was suffering from the deepest crisis ever and drastic changes needed to be introduced.
Kirilenko, 34, called it a day in his basketball career earlier in the year and is currently the sole candidate to take the helm of the RBF, which is living through an uneasy period. The federation was struck hard earlier this year, when women’s national team, the 2003, 2007 and 2011 European Champions, failed to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
The RBF’s extraordinary election conference was viewed as an end to the long-lasting conflict in the Russian basketball, which prompted the RBF’s suspension.
Late last month the RFB has been suspended by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which cited the lack of transparency in the Russian federation’s management as the reason for its decision. All Russian national basketball teams were suspended from international competitions as a result of the suspension.
However, at a session of the FIBA’s Central Board, which convened on August 8-9 in Tokyo, Japan, it was decided to all the Russian national teams were to play at the international level championships, but the suspension of the RFB remained in force.
FIBA’s suspension of the RFB put in extreme jeopardy Russian national men team’s participation in the 2015 European Championship.