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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ukraine and The Czar

During a press conference held prior to the AeroSvit Friendship Cup I discussed the progress the Ukraine National Team made during training camp, the role of our coaching staff and strategies for competing against unfamiliar opponents.