Video coordinator Daisuke Yoshimoto aka Dice was the first member of our coaching staff to arrive in Kiev. We visited three potential practice facilities in order to determine which would be the best for our workouts with the Ukraine National Team members scheduled to arrive this week. After finishing up some more work on the playbook we had dinner at a great Japanese restaurant named San Tori in honor of Dice’s arrival.
We set up at the hotel restaurant for Tuesday’s first team meeting. That evening Ukrainian basketball player Oleksiy Pecherov, who played with AJ Milano in Italy this past season, dropped by the Goodman Steak House to say hello. Afterwards we took a stroll through Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), the city’s central plaza and a hub of public political activity in Kiev. Dice snapped a picture of me in front of the towering monument to the protecting Slavic goddess Berehynia, which was erected in 2001.
Bulls assistant coach Ed Pinckney and Knicks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson arrived the following day. A veteran of the NBA, Pinckney helped coach Chicago to the best record in the East this year and famously led the Villanova Wildcats to the NCAA title over the heavily favored Hoyas in 1985. Atkinson played professionally in Italy, France, Germany and Spain from 1991 to 2004 and brings his invaluable international experience to our bench.