BWB Europe

FIBA - Kirilenko lends support to Basketball Without Borders

TREVISO (Basketball Without Borders) - Utah Jazz's Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko is delighted to have the chance to participate in the Basketball without Borders Europe training camp which is being held in Treviso.

This is the fifth time the event has taken place and this year sees youngsters under the age of 18 from 31 different countries working with NBA players such as Kirilenko,Dirk Novitzki, Gorden Giricek, Primoz Brezec and Zaza Pachulia.

Basketball without Borders lasts for three days between July 28 and 31 and Kirilenko is so impressed with the camp that the only change he would make is for it to last longer and extend its scope still further.

"We have only had two days to work, maybe we could work for five days and bring in people from all over the world and perhaps there could be more public here," said the 24-year-old.

"I think it is very important to work with young players, I was one myself only seven years ago.

"I was at a camp myself then and it was a great experience because you can learn things from different cultures, we can all contribute something and at the same time we all take something out of it.

"There are a lot of cultures here. I am looking to see what the young players can do. You can see the different techniques and store them in your head to use in the future."

Kirilienko explained that Basketball without Borders had attracted players from all over Europe.

"There are youngsters from everywhere, from Sweden down to Spain. It is very interesting because before people only used to come from traditional basketball playing countries such as Serbia & Montenegro and now people are coming from all over, even from places such as England where football was traditionally more important.

"There are also players from Finland and Sweden."

The Russian has enjoyed comparing the players from the different countries, but admitted he had been very impressed by the Italians.

"The Italians won the silver medal in the last Olympic Games and yet they don't have any NBA players in their team. Of course they have players who can lead a side, but the Italian side has no leaders as such, but they all work as a team," he said.

That could be a problem for Kirilenko as Italy will be rivals for Russia in this September's EuroBasket.

"They are in our group along with Germany and the Ukraine," he said, before looking at what promises to be a hard-fought and well-balanced competition.

"There are eight or nine teams who are in with a chance of winning: Croatia, Turkey, Lithuania, Spain, France, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Greece - they can all win, so we will have to do our best to win and of course to qualify for the FIBA World Championships 2006."

By Paul Giblin, PA International