Yahor Meshcharakou on BC Tsmoki's victory and his success in USA


Yahor Meshcharakou on BC Tsmoki's victory and his success in USA

Interview with a world class basketball player, vice-chairman of the Belarusian Basketball Federation, sports director of BC Tsmoki-Minsk Yahor Meshcharakou.

Thank you for coming, Yahor!
Well, thank you for all the titles granted to me, it is really flattering.

As for the yesterday’s match against PBC Lokomotiv Kuban, do you still feel the adrenaline rushing in your veins?
Yes. I believe most of the team players stayed up late into the night for it was a real historic victory. We’ve played in VTB United League for 8 years and it’s the first time we’ve defeated Lokomotiv Kuban. Just a month ago this team was a leader of VTB United League, but by now it has four losses in a row. Still Loko got to the semi-finals of FIBA Europe Cup, which Tsmoki-Minsk didn’t manage to do. Lokomotiv has a very high skill level, aiming for the Euroleague. And it feels really great defeating them. And especially we would like to thank our fans for the insane cheering during the game.

What was the key to victory, which let Tsmoki defeat Russian team?
For 2 or 3 years, we’ve been thinking how to increase the skill level of our junior team, who, from time to time, were just escorting the team in VTB United League without taking part in matches. A year ago we formed a reserve team, which played in the Baltic League, gained some experience against Lithuanian and Baltic teams and plays in the Belarusian Championship
Yauheni Beliankou is prominent example. We transferred him from the reserve team. Yesterday (March, 17) he scored 9 points, which proved him as  a very useful reserve team player. Our reserve team outplayed Lokomotiv’s reserve team. Also, our overseas players were of big help. Everyone did great. It’s hard to point somebody out. It’s pleasant that the reserve team players assist in such matches.

Tsmoki-Minsk can win and knows how to win and they proved it in their last match. As for the match against Italian Avellino: first match — a draw, 70:70. The second, home match they lost 9 points. What is your opinion on this result?
First of all, we’ve had 20 matches in the FIBA Europe Cup. It’s the longest time we’ve played in any European Cup. This fact is pleasant, but anyways we lost a psychological battle in the last minutes losing the end of the match. Had it not been for 8-9 points of advantage in the end, we would get a psychological victory. But we gave the Italians a chance to return in this round and felt like the hosts of the game. We fought them, we did our best, but in the end we lacked an impulse from the reserve, perhaps. It was great to see Alexander Kudriavtsev scoring three triples in a row. I still salute to the team, for the season in FIBA was really successful.

Could you call Tsmoki-Minsk a dream team in the Belarusian reality?
Absolutely. We are probably the only team in the world to send 11 players to our national team, even Devon Saddler. It’s a good reason to be proud for our team. We don’t have any players constantly sitting in the reserve. As you can see, there are usually 11-12 players in the match rotation.

You were included in the Hall of Fame of the George Washington University in the USA. How did you feel about it and what meaning did it have for you?
To begin with, I feel nostalgia remembering 4 Belarusian players who went to conquer America in the mid-90s, knowing 2 English words. We found ourselves in a completely unknown environment, where we had to learn everything on our own. On a serious note, it was pleasant to put myself in on record. The team we played for showed some good results in the 90s, which is very notable for the university.  And the university still remembers these times as if they wanted to get back to them. I believe we set a new destination for the future Belarusian players at that time. And there is even a young Belarusian, who plays for San Diego University. So I wish him the best of luck.