With the 2011 EuroBasket less than a month away now, Team Russia continue their preparations in Moscow. With only the finalists automatically qualifying for the London Olympics, David Blatt’s injury-hit squad has a tough tournament ahead.
Russia’s training camp began in early July in Moscow with the head coach, American David Blatt, concentrating mainly on bringing his largely inexperienced squad to optimal condition in the opening stages.
The team then moved on to Slovenia, where they were joined by more seasoned players like Russia’s NBA stars Andrey Kirilenko and Timofey Mozgov.
However, the squad is not quite game ready just yet, as gaining strength rather than tactics still tops the coaching staff’s plans.
Despite the lack of match experience, the youngsters are ready to plow in the upcoming friendlies.
“The jitters are already gone, at least during practice,” says the team’s center Timofey Mozgov. “It’s true that some guys are really young and inexperienced, however, and I won’t name any names, I like seeing them working really hard and no one is skiving. There might be some anxiety in the opening games but I’m sure it will diminish with each match.”
Mozgov is now one of just two centers for Russia, with CSKA’s Aleksandr Kaun missing the Eurobasket due to an injury.
However, CSKA forward and captain Viktor Khryapa is off the sick list and will join the team in Lithuania.
According to David Blatt, no side at the European Championship is insured against such roster changes.
Russia’s training camp is entering its final phase. The team is now physically fit and ready to absorb David Blatt’s tactics ahead of EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania.