XI'AN, Dec. 1: Former NBA all-star Andrei Kirilenko told Xinhua that his biggest goal was to help Russia qualify the 2019 FIBA World Cup, when the Russian legend attended the FIBA World Basketball Summit 2018 here on October 3-4.
After edging its biggest competitor Finland 77-75 at the European qualifiers on Friday, Russia sit third in Group K with two games remaining. With top three teams from each group qualifying for the World Cup, Russia is just one step away from making Kirilenko's dream a reality.
"I think every team in Europe right now grew up and get to a similar level. So it's not easy any more to beat the teams. You have to work hard and earn this win," Kirilenko told Xinhua in October.
"I always say that all we [as federation] can do is to increase the chance for our national team. We need to maintain all the round the team, so the chemistry is good. Their travel is as easy as possible. They get good equipment. They eat good," The Russian federation leader said.
"But we can't go on the floor and block shots or steal the ball. Not any more. But our goal is to maintain as much as possible and give them the best chance as possible to win the games," he added.
Besides Russia, a total of 80 teams from the four regions of Africa, Americas, Europe and Asia, which includes Oceania, are giving their best in the respective qualifiers of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 will take place in eight cities of China from Aug.31-Sep.15, 2019. (UNI-Xinhua)