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Belarus' basketball heading for decline now, Tsmoki Minsk's Alexander Kudryavtsev says

Player of the basketball club Tsmoki Minsk and the national team of Belarus Alexander Kudryavtsev answered the questions of the TV program Sports Week on the CTV.

The season is over. Have you had time to recover?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
I have had a little rest, of course. But I need some more time.

You will have time.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
I hope so.

Tsmoki Minsk's title of Belarus' champions - is something from your fresh memories. Tell me what it is to play in the championship, when the result is already known in advance?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Tragically, the teams Mogilev and Grodno-93 were not serious rivals. The result was predictable. And, in principle, my partners and I have been waiting a speedy end to take a vacation and relax after a long and busy season is in the VTB United League, but not after the championship of Belarus. This is, of course, a little bit disappointing for me as a Belarusian because I want basketball in Belarus to grow and develop as quickly as possible. I would like our players to be more competitive as compared to their foreign counterparts.

Don't we have any person in the Belarusian championship who could be named a discovery of the championship? Some of the young guys?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
You know, I can only cite the example of our youngest team Tsmoki-2. Yes, there are a couple of guys there who show the result, they are the top scorers of the championship. Belyankov, Rubinstein and Sergei Kozlov. But there should be many more guys on this list.

Play against Grodno-93 in the finals was probably not so interesting since you were favorites. How did you motivate yourself?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Firstly, we had a very good motivator - the head coach. He motivates in a very original way. For example, for me it would be interesting if I set myself the task to make as many interceptions in the game as possible. That is Branco [Mirkovic], as I understand, wanted to assist as much as possible. Basically, we wanted to show beautiful basketball. Still, the audience gathered in Mogilev and during the first two meetings in Grodno the arena was almost full. Still, Belarus, these regions, have not seen us "live" for a year.

Do you have fans who come to games regularly? How do they motivate? Maybe some chants?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Chants are not heard - because Minsk Arena is a giant building. And another thing is that you focus almost entirely on the opponent in the match and on the ball. And there are times when I almost do not hear spectator support. But I still feel it inside.

There was an unprecedented case when you refused to be paid for games after a series of defeats, though narrow.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
You know, I basically knew that this question would follow. There's nothing to hide. The press slightly misinterpreted the information, I think. Yes, there was such information but the thing was that our salary was frozen until we win a couple of games. And when things just went up the hill, we changed the coach, won a couple of games, everything returned to normal.

But a PR move turned out great in any case.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
It was very wide, very resonant, you might say. Guys playing in Russia called, and my friends called, even from Poland to ask about this. That is, the CIS countries and Russia were also interested.

They were shocked?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Yes, they were shocked. But we were more shocked reading in the press about all this.

Igor Grischuk became your now head coach. Grischuk is known as a great player, as a good coach who worked in Polish clubs with good results. His arrival at "Tsmoki" stirred up the team? What changed?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Do you know that I worked with Mr Grischuk in Poland in one team for three years?

Of course, we know it.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
See. Of course, it stirred me up, because, I repeat, he is a great motivator, a man of his word. Basically, I knew him very well, spoke in detail about everything, about methods he is going to use and requirements for players.  And so the guys quickly adapted and perhaps this is why they started winning. He changed a lot: defense, added some impulsiveness, charisma, character. We started to play in a different way in matches. We played until the end even in the moments that were not decisive.  And we got much better results. But frankly I certainly thought we would win more games.

The BC Tsmoki Minsk basketball club is a necessary thing for the raise of Belarusian basketball in general. But we have a lot of foreign players. Is Tsmoki a good enough basis for the national team?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
I would not say that 100%. For the youth team, probably yes.   I do not argue: if we have Veremeyenko, Parahovsky, Kudryavtsev, Ulyanka, Lyutych, Trostenetsky, Pustogvar and 2-3 foreign players, then yes. Because some of the names are well known. And then, perhaps, the result would have been better. But, unfortunately, it is impossible to gather all our best players on the same team. And we have to buy more foreign players.

And, in general, what team do you support in Europe?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Olympiakos. I like their charisma, like the players. These are players and fighters at the same time. I like them also because they have a lot of local players, from Greece. I am for patriotism, my father is a military man. And so I'm very happy when they bring benefit to their Motherland.

And this is probably a good time to ask you about the national team of Belarus. You have already told us that your career in the national team completed.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Yes. Firstly, it turned out that we have a pause this year.  I think the younger guys need more time in the team. Since we have this pause, we need to prepare these players. And we also need to involve kids who have not yet reached a certain milestone. For me, it's enough. I will still be able to help with advice and in friendlies. But not as an active player.

What should we expect from Tsmoki next season? This season, as Igor Grischuk said, we were more successful in the VTB United League. Can we expect a playoff or something similar?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
I want us to play in the European Cup, in principle.  Secondly, the need to wait. With this coach, we need to wait only good results. This coach is not slacking. And the team will be as a single group of soldiers. And I think if everything is okay with the financing next year, the season will be very exciting.  So come and cheer for us.

You said that you are probably going to leave the big sports to give the place for the young. And do we have these young people?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Yes, we do. But not so many. In principle, I think the young guys are those who are 18-19-20. Maximum 21. 22-24 year-olds are considered more experienced. You see that a lot of players start their professional career in a good team aged 18-19. But we in Belarus still consider many 25-year-olds as promising.

Late maturity?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
Yep. And so, I repeat: Belyankov, Rubinstein and Kozlov. Perhaps these are those who I know. Perhaps there are still a couple of guys in Vitebsk or in some other teams. I have not seen them so I can't definitely tell you. There are few of them anyway.

Why few?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
This is a very painful Belarusian basketball topic. We lost a generation.  During almost 14 years, we got Parahovsky, Trostenetsky, Pustogvar and Veremeyenko. This is far from being enough. If you take, for example, the same Turkey or Lithuania, see how many guys are discovered there!

And we have four people from the entire country.

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
And we have four people from across the country and it is not known whether these people will be taken to Tsmoki. Perhaps they'll take two. And what to do with the others? Grodno is pursuing a strange policy. Their team is getting weaker and weaker every year. Although they could of course, play in the Baltic League. I understand that they have difficulties in the negotiation process and elsewhere but they have borders with all countries. Basketball is now heading for decline in Belarus. There were small changes this season. But there will be more and more only for the better.

You see the problem from within. So what to do to solve it?

Alexander Kudryavtsev:
We need to raise our own generation, first and foremost. We need inspired people willing to coach children. Because our coaches are paid little money. We need funding for children.

Tsmoki Minsk's Alexander Kudryavtsev