Russian basketball received a timely boost last week, when David Blatt officially stayed on as head coach of the national team.
This season has not been a kind one for Russian basketball. Both the country’s representatives in the Euroleague, CSKA and Khimki respectively, fell at the first hurdle.
This was particularly surprising for the Army Men, who have been one of the country’s powerhouses over the last few years. Blatt believes they have been unlucky.
However, there have been a few positive points. The Russian league is the tightest it has been in years, as it looks like CSKA’s eight-year dominance may finally be challenged.
This season has also seen a reduction in the number of foreign players plying their trade in the country, which is certainly good news for Russia’s head coach.
However, some old problems still remain – point guard being the key one. JR Holden had filled Russia’s problem position with distinction for a number of years. The Pittsburgh native is now 34, and cannot be relied on for much longer. Blatt believes it is up to the country’s club coaches to try and find a solution to this problem.
The likes of Dmitry Khvostov and Anton Pankrashov have valiantly tried to provide a solution at point guard. However, they are nowhere near to being in the same class as someone like Holden, let alone the likes of Dimitris Diamantidis or Ricky Rubio, who are the continent’s top stars in that position. Blatt believes Russia still has some way to go till it can produce players of this caliber.
So for the time being, Blatt will have to make do with the few resources at his disposal. And it is unlikely that the American-Israeli will find a cure to his problem position ahead of the upcoming European Championships in Lithuania, meaning his ongoing search will continue.