Former Pole Vault champion and world record holder Sergey Bubka, currently president of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, is probably very proud about one of his recent projects. Together with the support of the local bank Rodovid and basketball coach Valery Plehanov, Bubka founded a basketball team in his hometown of Donetsk three years ago. This team has now reached the Ukrainian finals just three years after its foundation.
Maybe it was not enough this season, as Donetsk lost in the finals against Azovmash, but the team made a huge bang in Ukraine in beating the highly touted BC Kyiv in the semis. BallinEurope asked a Ukrainian expert how it is possible that a team that nobody really knew before this season can reach this level of competition. Here is what Alexander told us:
The question of having such a good team until now has a simple explanation: BC Donetsk management around Serhi Diadechko made a good decision according to the rules of a real businessman. When crisis came, BC Donetsk sacrificed half of its front office, canceled some youth teams, but was able to save the roster.
In fact, as BC Kyiv and other teams in Ukraine released all of their foreigners during the season, Donetsk could stay with Demetrius Alexander, Chris Owens, P.J. Tucker, Andres Rodriguez and Miludin Aleksic, and therefore took the deeper roster into the semifinals. Azovmash could guard their main foreigners throughout the season, too, so the two strongest teams finally reached the finals. I won’t comment whether that is the right way to handle financial slowdowns, but in the end, it was the correct short-term decision for the team.
Now, a lot will depend on how the financial crisis impacts the Ukrainian teams for next season. It is imaginable that the team around Bubka invests more money, as the new Euroleague qualification system will give Ukrainian teams opportunities to get a spot in the best competition in Europe.
Bubka was already highly involved in the wild card spot that BC Donetsk got for this year’s edition of the FIBA EuroChallenge; the team was eliminated in the first qualification round by the Cypriot team of Proteas EKA AEL, however.