This year's Eurobasket tournament begins Tuesday, and Cleveland Cavaliers rookie forward Sergey Karasev may be in a position to make a big impact. During a friendly against Finland on the 23rd Russian starting Power Forward Andrey Vorontsevich badly sprained his ankle, piling on to and already big problem in the Russian front court. Andrei Kirilenko has retired from the national team. One of the teams other stars Victor Khryapa, top center Timofey Mozgov, and Cavs prospect since the beginning of time Sasha Kaun have all withdrawn from this tournament as well.
So where does this leave Karasev? Well, the situation is a bit muddled. At 6'8, he is one of the tallest remaining players on the team next to true centers Alexei Savrasenko and Dimitry Sokolov. The top scorer from that friendly against Finland, Shooting Guard Egor Vyaltsev, has been released in preliminary cuts to get to the 12 required for the tournament however, Alexey Shved remains. Sergey Monya, another small forward, turned in good games in 3 straight friendly matches and figures to play a very large role going forward. Karasev was the top scorer of their friendly loss against Latvia but did not do a whole lot in games against Finland and Ukraine. Head Coach Vasily Karasev has said after other cuts that he values players who can play multiple positions, and this something that bodes well for Sergey. Vasily has also publicly noted that this team will have to play a smaller, faster style than their opponents, something they put on display in their friendly win against Ukraine. Data from friendly matches is not the easiest to come by, but the best I can glean is that Sergey is getting the minutes, and should be able to carve out a decent role. However, it would seem that Shved and Monia are definitely ahead of him in the pecking order.
A Cursory look at the opposing rosters shows a a whole lot of talent. Turkey boasts rangy forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu paired with big man Omer Asik. Former Cavalier Semih Erden also makes an appearance. Italy will be missing Andrea Bargnani, but got good news on Luigi Datome's injury status and will also have Marco Belinelli and Andrea Cinciarini. (AND TRAVIS DIENER!) Point Guard Petteri Koponen is still a nightmare in international play for Finland. Sweden, very similar to Turkey, has a strong front court of Jeff Taylor, Jonas Jerebko, and Joakim Kjellborn. I don't know much about Greece, other than Vassilis Spanoulis has been great for them for some time.
I'm excited to see what Sergey can bring to the table in this tournament, and will update as more information comes along. If we have any international readers, I would LOVE to hear your feedback as well.
Should Russia advance, the second round begins on September 11th.