Ukrainian by way of New Jersey

LEFT: Fratello as Hawks coach; RIGHT: Alexander “Sasha” Volkov playing for the Hawks.
(Focus on Sport/Getty Images and Rick Stewart /Allsport)

Mike Fratello’s ties to the former Soviet republic now under Russian attack stretch back to his days as Alexander Volkov’s first NBA coach in the 1980s. They only got deeper from there.

Click here to read Marc Stein’s (The Stein Line) account of how Coach Fratello came to coach Ukraine’s national team.

N.J. native, ex-Ukraine coach Mike Fratello

Puerto Rico v United States - FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying

Ex-Ukrainian basketball coach and Hackensack, N.J. native Mike Fratello is concerned about his former players and country.Getty Images

Mike Fratello remains in touch with associates from his four-year tenure as the Ukrainian national team coach, but in recent days it has been harder to connect since Russian military forces invaded the neighboring country. He is cautious about who and when he calls. “The communication lines have not been the same,” he said. “I worry every day for their safety.” Continue reading article by Kevin Armstrong for here:

Ukraine and The Czar

We travel to Sweden this week for exhibition games against Sweden and Poland before heading to Russia.

WEB-Ukraine_26AUG2013Photo courtesy of Andrey Khomenko

Ukraine and The Czar

Though we went 0-3 in last week’s exhibition tournament in Serbia, we accomplished our goal of playing tough opponents. Nobody likes to lose, but hopefully the experience of competing against three upper echelon teams will help us grow. We travel to Poland at the end of this week to take on Poland and Sweden, so we’ll get another chance to test our chops before heading to EuroBasket 2013.

Photo courtesy of Andrey Khomenko

Ukraine and The Czar

After a week of practices in Kiev we traveled to Serbia last night and will compete in a four-team exhibition tournament this weekend. We’ll face Montenegro in Game 1 and Serbia in Game 2. Game 3 will be winners vs. winners and losers vs. losers. Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia are all outstanding teams, so this will be an important test for us as we’ve mostly been scrimmaging against ourselves. We’ve only played two exhibition games so far, and we were missing 6 players who joined us late this summer. So we don’t know who we are yet. With less than a month to go until EuroBasket 2013, I look forward to seeing what we can do in this tourney and getting a handle on our strengths and weaknesses as we hone our identity.

WEB_heading Serbia tourney-9AUG2013