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03-30-2009, 09:20 PM
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Spotlight: Timofey Mozgov, Khimki

Playing in his first European club competition ever, Timofey Mozgov has been one of the biggest discoveries of this season, making it all the way from BC Khimki Moscow Region's second team to become the Eurocup's best offensive rebounder in the Last 16. The Russian center's season-average of 3.2 offensive and 7.1 overall rebounds are nothing but impressive, especially because he has been pulling them down in less than 18 minutes per game for Khimki, whose frontline is packed with well-known big men. But it is the 22-year old Mozgov who leads the team in both rebounds and blocks (1.2 per game). Having learned throughout his career that nothing comes easy, Mozgov stays humble, but is nevertheless full of ambitions for himself and Khimki: "Our quarterfinals against Pamesa Valencia is going to be very hard," he told Eurocupbasketball.com, "but I have big faith in our team and I am going to the Final Eight to win."

Mozgov grew up in Saint Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city, which is famous for its basketball traditions. The young Mozgov was discovered and introduced to the game by some of the country's best-known youth coaches. Kira Trzheskal, who turned a number of girls into national team players, including four-time Olympian Maria Stepanova, spotted the tall Mozgov, then a fourth-grader, at his school. She gave him a note with a time and a place, and soon Mozgov found himself on the court of the Admiralteyskaya sports school, surrounded by boys who already had been playing basketball for months or even yours under guidance of Gennadiy Panyutin. Interestingly, Mozgov's current Khimki teammate Anton Ponkrashov was one of those boys. As Mozgov remembers, his new teammates were way ahead of him at that time. "Ponkrashov and the other guys have already learned a lot of basic skills and could shoot the ball," he says. "I was the team's worst player and had to learn everything from the beginning."

Mozgov worked hard to catch up with the other boys, but a couple years later his family moved to Krasnodar, which for him meant a stop to serious basketball training. Though he practiced and played for the local school from time to time, there was no professional coach around and Mozgov was more or less out of basketball for several years. But he wanted to play, and his desire and size brought him back to St.Petersburg in 2001. Coach Anatoliy Shteinbok accepted Mozgov to his famous boarding school, where players like Mikhail Mikhailov, Andrey Fetisov, Sergey Panov, Zakhar Pashutin, Andrey Kirilenko and many others practiced as teenagers. At 15, Mozgov left his parents and headed back to his native city, pursuing his basketball dream.

Once again, most of Mozgov's teammates were much better than him, but he tried to catch up with them, doing his best day after day, month after month. After finishing school, Mozgov stayed in St.Petersburg and continued to play under Shteinbok, who was also in charge of the "Konti" team that competed in the Russian third-best league. In Konti, Mozgov reunited with Ponkrashov, but while the latter left the team to play in the Russian League in 2004, Mozgov stayed for three seasons, until 2006. By that time, Mozgov had become a team leader, and Coach Shteinbok told Mozgov it was time to move on: "First I went to some tryouts in Samara that didn't work out, but when I came back, Shteinbok told me to pack my stuff once again and go to Khimki," Mozgov recalls.

In that way, Mozgov suddenly found himself in one of Russia's elite clubs, but as always, his road to acknowledgment and playing time hasn't been easy. Though he made the cut to become part of the first team's roster, Mozgov only saw action a couple times, and by the end of the season was playing on Khimki's second team. Then, Mozgov spent the entire 2007-08 campaign on the second team and could only watch when Khimki won the Russian Cup or matched up against CSKA in the Russian League finals. But Mozgov doesn't feel too bad now about not being part of those big achievements, because he hasn't been wasting time: "I think it was better for me to have an opportunity to play a lot," he says. "Even though it was at a much lower level, it was a better chance to improve rather than just sit on the bench for the whole year."

This season, Mozgov was moved back to Khimki's first team, but didn't see much playing time until Sergio Scariolo took over as the team's new head coach. With Maciej Lampe down with an injury, Scariolo called Mozgov's number in a crucial home game against Besiktas Cola Turka, his first Eurocup game in charge of Khimki. "Our coach showed big trust in me, and I finally had a chance to try myself at the highest level," Mozgov says. He played up to the challenge and finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds in less than 11 minutes on the court. In his next two Eurocup games, Mozgov registered double-doubles with a combined 27 points and 26 rebounds. Mozgov continued to play solid in the Last 16, scoring a career-high 23 points against Panellinios BC to earn the honour of Eurocup MVP of the week.

Despite his recent success, Mozgov knows that he still has a lot of improvement to make, but he's sure that he can continue to grow in Khimki – by playing and practicing: "I am learning at every practice, in fact, it is tough for me at every practice," Mozgov admits. "Maciej (Lampe) and Ratko (Varda) are both very strong and skilful players who are giving me a hard time, but I am trying my best every time."

Having never had a chance to play at such a high level before, Mozgov looks very much forward to the Final Eight in Torino and hopes that his team still will be there on the day of the final game: "I don't know what I want to accomplish in five or 10 years, but I know what I want to accomplish in 10 days," Mozgov says with a laugh. "I want to win the Eurocup."

03-30-2009, 10:28 PM
This guy our main talant for now. I mentioned about him many times on eurobasket. He,s hardworker player.He has outstanding strength and athleticism. Unfortunately he,s quite limited offensive player yet. Because he doesn,t has stable shot, he has serious problems with fundamental technical ability, but on practice he working hard in this components. As for his strength quality i want to mark his rebounding and blocks ability. He blocks one shot for every 9 minutes he's on the court, and grabs a rebound every 3 minutes! Very solid results even for defensive ace players. Btw, his alley-oops with Pankrashov and Palacio works like swiss watch!:cool: If to make attempt to compare him with european stars, he,s our version of Biedrins or Javtokas.

03-30-2009, 11:29 PM
Mozgov will be Russian NT starting center for the next ten years.

BTW, great article full of infos about his career.

04-30-2009, 03:49 AM
I have just found out, that a guy from Avtodor Saratov - Andrei Matiejunas was included to extended list of Russian national team. Who is this guy? What is his story?

04-30-2009, 07:44 AM
I have just found out, that a guy from Avtodor Saratov - Andrei Matiejunas was included to extended list of Russian national team. Who is this guy? What is his story?

His grandfather left Lithuania during WWII, he came to Kazan, got married.

12-09-2009, 02:46 PM
The emergence of Alexey Shved? (http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=pt-PT&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.acb.com%2Fblog%2Ffuturo&sl=es&tl=en)

12-13-2009, 04:26 PM
Shved is no longer playing for CSKA (Yeah, I'm late to news). But it's good to see him finally getting playing time.

CSKA will shame themselves for such actions.

04-06-2012, 12:58 AM
Kulagin: We All Respect Karasev A Lot

When Triumph Lyubertsy coach Vasily Karasev talks about his team, he does so with immense pride.

Karasev once served as the floor general for Russia's national side and with Triumph, there are youngsters who are showing that one day, they may play in the international game, too.

Triumph have Sergey Karasev, the 18-year-old sharpshooter and son of Vasily, 21-year-old rebounding machine Evgeny Valiev and 19-year-old guard Artem Vikhrov.

There is also Dmitry Kulagin, a 19-year-old whirling dervish of a guard who competes as hard as any player in any game.

"I am very proud of the work of my young players," the coach said.

"They are the future of the Russia national team."

That is just one story that makes Triumph a club worth watching, but it's an important one.

Triumph is putting its best foot forward for its fans, and for the country.

If Karasev's outfit is going to make it to the EuroChallenge Final, all of the youngsters will need to be at their best when they take on Elan Chalon on 27 April at the Final Four in Debrecen.

Kulagin can't wait.

He gave this interview to Daniela Gaidel for Basketball World News.

How does it feel when your coach, Karasev, says that Triumph's young players are the future of Russia's National team?

Kulagin: "I appreciate the trust and the help of Karasev. He supports me and all young players of Triumph such as Artem Vikhrov, Sergey Karasev, others. We feel the pride and we try to work more and do all our best during practices and games to meet the hopes of coaches and fans."

What do Triumph need to do to beat Chalon in the EuroChallenge Final Four?

Kulagin: "First of all, we have to respect the rival, to be concentrated and motivated. I'm sure coaches will give us all the necessary information and we have to fulfill all the instructions and play smart, with high concentration, work on defense. We have to play as one team, all together, and show our best game, do all we can do."

Dmitry, how important was it for your career to play as well as you did at last year's FIBA U19 World Championship and make the all-tournament team after Russia's bronze-medal win? Did your confidence grow from that experience, and what is your best memory of that event in Riga?

Kulagin: "My game at the World Championship was like a step to a new level, like from the youth to the senior level. It was very important for me. But I think that it was just one step and I have to continue working in this way. I feel confidence in my game. There were some very memorable episodes of that championship. First of all, the three-point shot of Karasev in the game against Brazil. We had so much emotion in this game, though it was the first game of the championship, but emotionally it was like the final. Secondly, the game against USA. (Russia won that Quarter-Final against the USA). And the third moment - the award ceremony, when we got the bronze medals. They say that bronze is better than silver, no doubt. Everyone in our team, including myself - we were very happy to become the under-19 world championship prize-winner, but I'm sure we can do better."

All the experience that coach Vasily Karasev has - how do you benefit from that? Do you remember him as a player?

Kulagin: "Yeah, I've watched a few of his games. He was a brilliant player: speedy, smart, and full of self-sacrifice. I can learn a lot from his game. We all respect Karasev a lot. We consult with him not only about basketball, but life."

The EuroChallenge has been a great experience for Triumph. In your wildest dreams, did you expect to reach the Final Four?

Kulagin: "We made it step by step, game by game, and now we all have to do our best in the Final Four, showing our best basketball in these two games and make all our fans happy."

Growing up, which sportsman did you look up to most and when did you know you had a chance to play professional basketball? Which person was most important to you in helping you become a professional at such a young age?

Kulagin: "I remember always wanting to play basketball. I enjoy this game, and it's a pleasure to spend my time on the court with the ball. When I was a kid, I watched NBA games and tried to learn from the example set by different players of different ages: (Michael) Jordan, (Kobe) Bryant, (Tracy) McGrady. All are great players, and even now I follow NBA games and admire the play of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant. And I respect a lot the 33-year-old Kobe Bryant. He plays at the highest level of basketball.

What are your dreams when it comes to playing basketball? Can you imagine one day playing at the Olympic Games?

Kulagin: "It's one of my dreams, to play at an Olympics. And also, I'd like to achieve the title of Russian champion and Euroleague champion. But still my dream near to my heart is to play in the NBA, not just to become an NBA player but to play there and become an NBA champion."