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Albert Schweitzer 2012: Russia Preview

April 6th, 2012 · No Comments

Russia is a traditional participant of the Albert Schweitzer Tournament. Vladimir Spivak gives us his impressions about the team that will compete in Mannheim this year.

I don’t want to spoil the party before it’s started, just try to be honest with you – don’t expect much from this Russia’s squad. Their Friday’s friendly showed that the team is not balanced, lacks chemistry and mutual understanding between the players on the court. Coach Aleksander Chernov has only worked with this team one week during a short training camp and is yet to find the strengths and weaknesses of his players, plus the side’s tactics needs a lot of improvement and will be worked on during the Manheim event; having 5(!) point guards in the final roster only proves that. Having said that, there are still a few players in the squad to pay attention to.

Mikhail Kulagin, Dmitry Kulagin’s younger brother, doesn’t have a lot of skills of his already famous brother, but still is an exciting prospect. Standing about 190cm tall Mikhail prefers to play off the ball, though his future obviously lies at the PG spot. He’s got solid outside and mid-range shots, is able to get to the rim and finish in contact. Kulagin-junior must develop his court vision and feeling of partners, but his self-confidence is already there. He plays his club basketball with Triumph U21 team, where he averages over 10 points and almost 4 rebounds – solid numbers against opponents, who are 2-3 years elder than him.

You probably haven’t heard of Andrey Desyatnikovyet, since he’s only been playing basketball for few years. But he will be noticed in Germany, for sure he will. At least, because he’s 220cm tall. And that’s probably all you can say about him at the moment. He doesn’t understand basketball very well for now, but appears to be a hard-working guy, which, adding to his height, will likely allow him to play at the top level.

Another center in the Russia’s squad is 2m08 Konstantin Kulikovfrom Spanish Girona. Born in 1995, Kulikov is an interesting young player, who is comfortable under the rim and can shoot from mid-range as well. Konstantin will reach a new level when his game becomes more aggressive. With Desyatnikov lacking stamina, Kulikov should get lion’s share of playing minutes at the C position.

At PF position Chernov relies on Stanislav Ilnitsky, 2.01 forward from Khimki Moscow Region. Ilnitsky has made his name heard earlier this year with an impressive performance at Kaunas stage of Nike International Junior Tournament, where he scored 29 points in one game and made the All-Star five of the tournament. Ilnitsky has good shooting techniques, quick release and scores the majority of his points with jumpers. He’s not so good inside the paint and physical presence is something he needs to work on.

Just like Kulikov, CSKA’s Aleksander Martynovis one year younger than the majority of the team. Martynov is a solid shooter and should be starting at SG position in this team. He averages over 13 points in the Russian U18 league, and will be one of the main scoring options for the Russian team in Manheim.

Overall, this team does have some potential, but the AST event is regarded as just a stage of the preparation for the European Championships in August. Thus this team will advance far in Germany only if a combination of a lot of things goes its way.

Vladimir Spivak is a Basketball Blogger from Russia writing for youthhopes.ru. You can also follow him on Twitter @selloutxboy

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