By CGTN's Mu Dan & Wang Meng
The "R" in BRICS stands for Russia, and that country's men's basketball team is focused on winning Eurobasket 2017 later this year, which would mark their first continental title in a decade. In order to bolster the squad ahead of the event, a younger group has been sent to Guangzhou with a mandate to impress the coaches, thereby improving their chances of earning spots on the nation's senior team. That includes this unit's captain, who is determined to take advantage of the opportunity.
At the first-ever BRICS Games, the member of the Russian men's basketball team with the most experience on the country's senior squad is captain Vladimir Ivlev, who has suited up for a handful of continental qualifiers. Now the 27-year-old forward is confident this trip to China can boost his case to return to the main roster ahead of Eurobasket 2017.
“I think returning to the national team does matter, more than some other teams. It’s great opportunity to me, because everybody wants to play for the National Team,” said Ivlev.
Once the group returns home, the head coach, Sergei Bazarevich, will huddle with Boris Sokolovsky to discuss the progress their charges made at this tournament.
“Our main goal in this tournament is to select five players who will join to the National Team to prepare for the Eurobasket,” said Sokolovsky.
But even as these players compete for spots on the senior team, and what it would mean for their futures, they maintain a close-knit camaraderie off the court.
“Lots of guys who are a little bit older like my age, I grew up with them and I know they are very good. Vladimir Ivlev said, “And here lots of new young guys we try to help them can improve the games”.
Fans attending the BRICS Games are getting an up-close glimpse of this young Russian team's potential as they chart a course to challenge host country China for gold, and possibly ignite a rivalry that serves to help both sides improve as they forge ahead on the hardwood.