MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. The Russian national basketball team should summon all of its currently best players to pass the qualifications for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket, Sergei Bazarevich, a newly-elected head coach of the team, told TASS on Thursday.
The German city of Munich held the Draw process on Friday for national teams selected to participate in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket Qualifiers, placing the competing nations into separate groups. The Draw placed Russia in Group C with teams from Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina and it is the only group out of seven consisting of three national teams.
"It is still too early to debate about the perspectives as we have just learnt about who our opponents will be," Bazarevich said in an interview with TASS. "The [Group’s] teams are very strong."
"As far as I remember, we lost to Sweden at the EuroBasket just recently [in 2011]," he said. "Bosnia and Herzegovina is as dangerous just like any other Balkan nation."
"However, if we manage to bring together the strongest we will pass the qualifications," Bazarevich said.
Andrei Kirilenko, the president of the Russian Basketball Federation (RBF), was quoted by the federation’s official website as saying that "such strong group is a good challenge for Russia."
"It is obvious that there will be no easy-to-win games in the group," Kirilenko, Russia’s titled basketball player elected the RBF president last August, said. "However, it is said that there are only three competitors within the group and Russian basketball fans will have the chance of watching two games only."
During the RBF Executive Committee’s session in Moscow on Wednesday, Bazarevich, who was the first Russia-born player to hit the floor of the NBA tournaments (Atlanta Hawks, 1994-1995), was unanimously voted upon to take charge as the head coach over the Russian national basketball team.
The national squad’s former Head Coach Yevgeny Pashutin resigned last year after the team failed to qualify for 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.
Two other candidates for the post of the national basketball team’s head coach, named before the elections by RBF President Andrei Kirilenko, were Russia’s Vasily Karasev and Italian specialist Andrea Trinchieri.
Bazarevich, 50, played point guard during his 20-year professional career, which he began in 1983. He is the two-time silver medalist of the FIBA World Cup (1990, 1994), the 1993 FIBA EuroBasket silver medalist, three-time winner of the USSR Championship and two-time winner of the Russian Championship.
During his coaching career, Bazarevich worked with Russian basketball clubs Dinamo Moscow, Krasnye Krylya Samara, Lokomotiv-Kuban. Last month he signed a contract as the head coach with Italian basketball club Cantu.
According to the official website of FIBA EuroBasket: "The 27 teams were drawn into seven groups (six groups of four teams and one of three) with the winners of each group, plus the four best second-placed teams set to advance to the EuroBasket Final Round, which will take place in September 2017."
In line with current regulations, as stated on the official website, "Each team faces each of their group opponents both at home and away."
The qualifying tournament for the 2017 EuroBasket will be hosted by four European countries, namely Turkey, Romania, Finland and Israel between August 31 and September 17 this year.
A total of 11 out of 27 national teams will advance to the 2017 EuroBasket Final Round, where, according to the official website, "they will join host countries Finland, Israel, Romania, Turkey; FIBA EuroBasket 2015 finalists and guaranteed Rio 2016 contestants Spain and Lithuania; and Olympic Qualifying Tournament participants Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia and Serbia."
Last year the Russian national team failed to clear the group stage of the 2015 FIBA EuroBasket Final Round and subsequently lost its chance of traveling to Brazil's Rio de Janeiro for 2016 Summer Olympic Games.