Ilona Korstin: “The league will strengthen the traditions connecting Russian and Serbian basketball”

Eurohoops team/

General Director of the United League Ilona Korstin:

How the League came to the decision to invite Serbian teams to participate in the Super Bowl?
We know Serbian basketball very well, honor long-standing traditions and respect Serbian players and coaches who have distinguished themselves in the ZGB League. We all remember Dusan Ivkovic and his contribution to CSKA’s success. Milos Teodosic is another legend of the VTB League, a favorite of the public, who was remembered for his bright game and deservedly became one of the first members of the League’s Hall of Fame.
This year, we continue to strengthen the traditions that connect the League with Serbian basketball. One of the best central players in Europe – Nikola Milutinov – plays in CSKA. Zoran Lukich is the head coach of the Russian national team and Nizhny Novgorod. Serbian players and professionals are respected and appreciated in our country. Moreover, all major Russian teams worked with Serbian coaches in their youth projects. In Serbia, basketball is more than a sport, it is like a religion, and we respect and appreciate it very much.

If the first time you have contacted with Serbian teams?
The first contact with representatives of Serbian clubs in the League was during the “Final Four” of the Euroleague in Belgrade. We discussed participation in the Super Bowl, after which specific clubs received an invitation. It was really difficult to think through all the details, coordinate the schedule and all the logistics. The Serbian teams didn’t know until the last whether they would be able to come, but we tried to organize everything in such a way that they would take part in our tournament.

Have you thought about inviting other teams to the Super Bowl?
Yes, we consider the Super Cup as an international tournament to make it attractive for fans and to provide the missing international experience this season to the top Russian clubs. We held talks with clubs from China, Turkey and Serbia. As a result, everything happened with the Serbian clubs.

What are your expectations from Partizan, which is managed by Zhelka Abradavich?
Games with Partizan will be really interesting. Basketball experts remember matches of Russian teams against Zhelka Obradovich. I think it will be interesting for fans to watch Zhelka’s show – it is a separate performance that deserves attention. He is well known in Russia as a strong specialist who has beaten Russian teams in decisive matches many times. Abradovic was one of the main mentors of Dimitris Itoudis, the winningest coach in the history of the League, they worked together at Panathinaikos.

There were rumors about what the VTB League wanted to see as participants “Partizan” season and Red Star. Is that so?
The ZGB league is actively developing, it is not for nothing that we were recognized as one of the best leagues in Europe. As they say, competition is the engine of progress. That is why we are interested in serious clubs with a high sports and marketing component. To date, we have managed to agree with Partizan and “Mega” to participate in the Super Cup, and now we are looking forward to the start of the tournament.

Since Russian clubs will not play in European cups next season, what changes will take place in herself League ZGB?
In the new season, the clubs will not have international matches, and many League teams will focus on the development of their youth projects this year. As for the League, we have increased the number of games to give the teams the game practice they need. The regular championship will be held in 2 stages: according to the results of the first team, they will be divided into 2 groups, where they will play each other and as a result, the best 8 teams will be determined, which will go to the playoffs. All this is done so that the fans get more quality basketball, and the players have even more opportunities for development.

The experience of the United League of ZGB will help in the development of other European championships. I follow the matches of the Adriatic League and I can say that the level of competition is really high. When it comes to the Unified League of ZGB, we always require clubs to meet high sports and marketing standards, which are established in the regulations, which the clubs themselves vote for. The main aspects are related to infrastructure, arena, security and guarantees of financial stability. All this is done in order to increase the level of the final product that we offer to the audience. In short, that’s how our League works, and I think it’s the right way. We have a completely separate product – the All-Star Game, which is, I’m not ashamed to say, one of the brightest basketball events of the season. We are trying to create a big and spectacular show to make basketball even more popular in Russia and attract a new audience.

The source is the official website of the United League of ZGB

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