Vasily Karasev: "I'd like to bring the Euroleague to St. Petersburg"
On the eve of the semifinal series in the VTB United League, the Zenit head coach spoke with Sport Express about how the club is aiming for the final.
It's been good for our team and it's a great result. We've made progress and we are just in our third season in the league. Although we've had some bad games. Remember the home defeats to UNICS and Lokomotiv. I was not very pleased with the performance in the Cup. Now we've come to the end of the season, some of the results could have been better.
Sibur Arena or Yubiliney which do you prefer?
I would not want to compare them. Yubiliney for me is now our home hall, but Sibur is one of the best arenas in Russia. However, when you play and train on the same site it's a big plus. Our training and matches are held in the Yubiliney Perhaps because of this, the percentage of wins is up.The visual and tactile sensations at the different venues are different. We are not tied to a specific venue, we can go and win anywhere.
We are just ahead of the first leg of the semifinal series with Khimki are you ready?
We are prepared. We've had a little rest, trained well and reviewed our opponent completely. However, when you go to this series, you still want something more. But our preperation will decide the result of the game itself.
In the course of the quarterfinal series with VEF, you said that Sergey Karasev and Janis Timma were shadows of their former selves, have you solved this problem?
During the season there are periods when each player looks better or worse. At some points Karasev and Timma didn't play that well. Both needed the time to recover and rest. Hopefully, with now with Khimki we will see them in all their glory.
The matches with Khimki in the regular season were brilliant in terms of entertainment and intrigue. Can we expect something similar in the semi-final play-offs?
I think our first game with Khimki was very open. Both teams scored 110 points. But the second was more viscous and eventually, it all came down to a battle for the result. The level of excitement and responsibility has grown. This Euroleague just once again has proven that such tournaments are won from defence. However, Khimki and us, try hard to play well in attack. So I do not think that the team will be very different on the scoreboard and the points gap will be very, very small.
In the regular season, you are twice defeated Khimki and finished ahead of them in the table. Do you see this as a positive psychological aspect or have you asked the players to forget about what happened before?
On the one hand, the playoffs are a totally different story. On the other - the guys now have confidence in their abilities. They know that they can beat Khimki. The main thing is that our confidence does not turn into overconfidence. The team know this and now we can win only with our own hard work.
In addition to reaching the final of the VTB United League playoffs you will also get to the Euroleague, does this play a part for you?
Zenit have never been In the Euroleague before. And if we are able to bring it here to the banks of the Neva River, it will be a great achievement. It's a big responsibility and I know it.
Does that goal inspire you?
To some extent yes,. But, as shown this season, the team can get ready for all the games ahead of us and get the right result.
Zenit Football Club finished the season in third place but Zenit Basketball can finish the season on a high. Is this also an incentive for you?
No. We are a club, a team. All the players and I want to climb as high as possible, so that next season, the club will be represented in the main European basketball tournament. Since it turned out that the footballers didn't quite get there, in basketball we have to do it. By the way, the football Premier League season is over, all those fans can come to our games and support us at Yubiliney is very important.