Minsk ‘dragons’ spread their powerful wings
Minsk Tsmoki starts the new season in the VTB United League. It’s their fourth year in a row for the country’s major basketball club which is trying to make a name for itself in one of Europe’s strongest club championships. In the past, this has truly shown to be a challenge.
By Dmitry Baranovsky
Each year, due to selection and problems related to preparation, the Minsk club only begins demonstrating a sufficient level of quality basketball by mid-season. As a result, no more than a couple of victories were ever common. However, this year, the team-s heads believe that things will be different.
Changes have been made at the top, during mid-season, Lithuanian specialist, Donaldas Kairys, was appointed the team’s head coach, while its former leader, Andrey Krivonos, who guided our guys since the team’s formation in 2006, moved to the post of second coach. It’s yet too early to say whether this change is efficient but no doubt, the team’s performance will change.
According to Mr. Kairys, his players are truly capable, “In the mid-season, our club did a great job to pick-up players, and I think we’ve succeeded in creating a team able to demonstrate bright and efficient basketball. I hope we won’t disappoint our fans.”
This time, the Minskers’ action on the transfer market looks far more reasonable and efficient. One of the most impressive pieces of news came on the eve of Tsmoki’s trip to Riga, where the team played its first match against local VEF. One of Belarus’ most promising players, and brother of the renowned Yegor Meshcheryakov, Nikita Meshcheryakov, signed a contract. In recent years, he has played for American leagues, and spent last season with the Italian team from Triesta. He certainly has the chance to improve Tsmoki’s performance. An invitation to Vitaly Lyutych, from Bereza, is another strong move for the team. He spent three seasons in the Lithuanian Championships and, during a recent qualification tournament for the European Championship, he made quite a stir on court. The player is eager to show his best sporting capabilities in the VTB United League.
However, the team lost a key player, Alexander Kudryavtsev, who has moved to Turkey and also Alexander Pustogvar. In addition, the second block of players consists of many young athletes who will, most probably, stay as reserves this season. However, both Denis Korshuk and Alexey Lashkevich are in good shape now and a lot of hope is pinned on Lyutych. At the official presentation, Alexander Kul, the former central player and present Director of Tsmoki’s Sporting Marketing Centre, talked as equals with the overseas signings. Mr. Kul relies on the new lineup, saying, “Without fear of jinxing it, I could assert that our guys would perform successfully the coming season. The club has managed to accumulate money to invite high level players.”
Live match broadcasts — to be arranged by the Belarus 5 Sports TV Channel — would definitely please fans. Moreover, the club would receive its mascot, to be presented on October 14th, during the first home match.