MOSCOW, August 25. /TASS/. Famous ex-basketballer Andrey Kirilenko, a sole runner for the post of the president of the Russian Basketball Federation (RBF), is capable of drawing all of the country’s regional basketball federations together, the head coach of the national basketball men’s team told TASS on Tuesday.
"Andrey is the man with a big heart and vast experience, the man who played a lot in the [US] National Basketball Association [NBA] and in the Russian national team. He is the best basketballer of our country," Yevgeny Pashutin said in an interview with TASS on the sidelines of the RBF’s extraordinary session.
The RBF’s elections of the president and members of the Executive Committee are held on Tuesday within the frames of the federation’s extraordinary conference. Russia’s famous ex-basketballer Andrey 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.
"He [Kirilenko] has always been the thought leader in the national team, leading the rest," Pashutin said. "He is an intelligent and clever man. I recollect the victorious 2007 EuroBasket Championship, when all the boys bunched around him and he was taking care of them and consolidated the team. Andrey is the team-building person, capable of consolidating our basketball."
"Kirilenko is able to help the development of basketball in Russia," the head coach of the national team said. "He is a sincere person."
Pashutin also said that if Kirilenko was elected the president of the RBF, their future cooperation would be positive and productive.
"As soon as he finds some time, we will arrange a meeting to discuss all the key issues," Pashutin said. "I have read his [campaign] program and I really liked that a particular attention in it was devoted to the development of youth and mass basketball. This is exactly what we lack at the moment. On our behalf, we will do everything possible for the [national] team’s decent performance."
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, which started at 12:00 p.m. Moscow time (09:00 GMT) on Tuesday, is expected to put an end to the long-lasting conflict in the Russian basketball, which prompted the RBF’s 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 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 FIBA European Championship, to be held between September 5 and 20.
This year’s championship is of a particular value, since it 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.
Earlier in the month, a Moscow Court ruled to oblige the RBF to hold a conference for electing the organization’s new president and executive committee.
Commenting on the RBF suspension, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in mid-August that "As soon as we restore governance in basketball, we’ll address the issue of the lift of sanctions.".