Ukraine and The Czar

After a tough overtime loss to Turkey on opening night, the Ukraine faced Serbia in Game 2 of the Spor Toto World Cup. We competed well during the first and second quarters and trailed by just one point at halftime, 38-37. But Serbia wore us down with their tough defense in the second half. They forced turnovers and made it difficult for us to set up our offense. Unable to sustain our momentum, we wound up losing the game by 26 points, 83-57. Serbia is a very good team. They lost to Germany on the first night, but two of Serbia’s starters sat out during that contest. Tomorrow afternoon we will try to regain our footing with a win against the talented German squad. They beat Turkey today, so they’re 2-0 heading into the final game of this exhibition tournament.

On the Road with Mike

Ukraine and The Czar

We beat Belarus in Sunday’s scrimmage and got in a few more practices before flying to Izmir on Wednesday for the Spor Toto World Cup exhibition tournament involving Turkey, Serbia and Germany. Going up against these world-class teams will be a tough test for the Ukraine.

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Ukraine and The Czar

Our team had a couple setbacks following the AeroSvit Friendship Cup. After the tournament Sergey Gladyr had an MRI that revealed a meniscus tear in his knee. Unfortunately he must undergo surgery to repair the damaged cartilage and will not be able to compete in the European Championship. A member of Bàsquet Manresa in Spain last season, Sergey can play both the small forward and two-guard positions. He is an excellent shooter who gave us athleticism and would have been either a starter for the Ukraine or the first sub off the bench. We also lost one of our point guards, who ruptured a disc in his back and needs a month or two of steady rehab.

We brought up two, young 19-year-olds who have been playing well for the Under-25 Team to take their places at training camp. We’ll have to wait and see if either of them is good enough to join the Ukraine’s final 12-man roster. On Sunday we’re set to scrimmage Belarus again, and on Wednesday we fly out to Turkey for another four-team tourney in Izmir. This is going to be a big test as we’ll face three very difficult opponents: Turkey, Serbia and Germany, all of which will be top-five contenders at EuroBasket 2011.

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Ukraine and The Czar

Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia and Jordan competed in the 2011 AeroSvit Friendship Cup at Kiev’s Sports Palace over the weekend. We tipped off the tourney against Estonia. Size-wise Estonia is not the biggest team, but they can shoot threes like nobody’s business. Ukraine led by as many as 12-13 points during the game, but Estonia hit a half-dozen 3-pointers to tie up the score with 27 seconds remaining. On the next possession we ran down the clock, hit a basket to go up by two, made both free throws after Estonia fouled us and pulled out a 93-89 win.

Ukraine took on Belarus in Game 2. We played great defense and held them to just 31 points in the first half. But our guys ran out of gas in second half and allowed Belarus to score 51 points. Belarus steadily chipped away at our 16-point lead and ultimately came out on top 82-78. On Sunday Ukraine faced Jordan in the final game of the tournament. Jordan was missing a number of key players and we beat them solidly 104-75.

Ukraine finished second behind Belarus with 2 wins and 1 loss. It was good to get a few games under our belts against teams that will be competing in EuroBasket 2011. Here’s a look at the Ukraine Express Train in action, photographed by Oleksiy Naumov from the Ukrainian Basketball Federation.

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