Is the Belarusian National basketball team on the rise or does it just seem so?

The most high-profile and perhaps the only success of Belarusian Men's basketball came at the dawn of sovereignty. In the summer of 1994, the Belarusian National team sensationally won the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship, defeating the French, Spaniards, and Italians, thus making a significant bid for the title of the most promising team in the country. However, memories of those events today are akin to stories about dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous period: one cannot believe that this could actually happen – sounds like a beautiful fiction.

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Now all the fans' eyes are on the football players: the Belarusian National team is trying to take advantage of the unique opportunity of playing in UEFA Nations League (today, by the way, Mikhail Markel's team is holding a Friendly game against the Bulgarians on their field). Basketball players are left in the shadows, although their results are hardly worse than the results of the football team (probably could not be any worse). One can remember that during the last FIBA World Cup Qualifiers our basketball team even beat the Slovenian National team (the current European Champions, by the way) and pulled out the a victory against Spain. And now, in many ways, the new team is making another attempt to be among the strongest teams in the Old World.

The team is interesting in many respects. Rostislav Vergun is the head coach. A kind of no name of the coaching department, who did not reach great heights in his career as a player and was on the pick-up in «Tsmoki» for a long time. This season is a breakthrough for him; he took the first roles in both the club and the National team. 37 years is a great age to see what one is capable of: you can do a lot and you already know something. Vergun can easily be called our basketball Victor Goncharenko.

The team is also interesting to look at. The two main elders are Uladzimir Verameenka and Artsiom Parakhouski. They are almost 70 years old combined, and they are probably the best thing that happened to Belarusian basketball in the XXI century — two main stars. Artsiom was always part of the team, and Uladzimir returned to playing for the National team only recently by the age of 35. But it's better late than never. Aliaksei Trastsinetski and Vitali Liutych are also prominent and well-known players.

However, in order to really get out of the shadows and count on serious results, you need talented and ambitious young athletes. Maksim Salash, Yauheni Beliankou, Andrei Stabrouski and Roman Rubinsteyn are all making themselves known.

It would be wrong to demand everything at once and expect that the National team will suddenly find unique players like Luka Doncic. It is good that the team’s results have clearly moved forward and progress is evident. Now we can surely say that there is a team, and is interesting to follow.

Basketball. FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Pre-Qualifiers

Belarus – Portugal                  72:56

Group A: Belarus – 4 (2), Albania – 3 (2), Portugal – 3 (2), Cyprus – 2 (2).

SECTION Federation