The VTB United League held its official 2018 Final Four press conference today in Moscow. Participants included VTB United League president Sergey Kushchenko, general director Ilona Korstin, representatives of each Final Four team–Natalia Furaeva (CSKA), Olga Akhsanova (UNICS), Andrey Spiridonov (Zenit) and Pavel Astakhov (Khimki)–as well as Fonbet general director Alexander Paramonov.
The press conference covered questions pertaining to the organizing and hosting of the Final Four.
VTB United League president Sergey Kushchenko: We tried to organize the Final Four at the highest level, as is now expected. Thanks to the joint efforts of the clubs, League and media, fans will get to experience incredible basketball. I think the Final Four will be the perfect appetizer before the start of the World Cup.
League general director Ilona Korstin: The Final Four is a fairly new format for the League. The Belov Cup, a spot in the EuroLeague and the Russian championship are at stake, which makes everyone invested, from the clubs to the fans. The fans will enjoy the VTB Ice Palace. It’s a modern arena, conveniently located with plenty of concessions and wide-ranging entertainment. But the emphasis at the Final Four will be on competition.
UNICS vice president Olga Akhsanova: Competing in the playoffs was one of UNICS’s primary goals before the start of the season. The League is trying a new format, which shows that it is growing and developing. We had a tricky quarterfinal series and now the team is preparing for an even more difficult opponent: Khimki. The better team will win, but I think the fans will enjoy a hard-fought, entertaining game. Good luck to all of the teams. We’re going to enjoy the show.
Khimki general director Pavel Astakhov: The Final Four format is attractive to the fans, but tough on the teams. Khimki doesn’t have a lot of experience in these types of tournaments, but we do have some, which was quite positive. I hope that helps. At the same time, we are preparing according to plan. Prognosticating is an unkind business, so there’s no point predicting anything right now. We respect all of our opponents, but we will do everything possible to get the necessary result.
CSKA vice president Natalia Furaeva: We took a very serious approach to the regular season, focused on each game and as a result were able to finish in 1st place. But Zenit is one of two teams that beat us in the regular season. As a result, CSKA players won’t have any issue with motivation. We are entering the Final Four with less than a full roster: Leo Westermann had an operation on his back and Andrey Vorontsevich is rehabbing from a shoulder operation.
Zenit sports director Andrey Spiridonov: This is a new format for Zenit. We battled injuries all season, which made it difficult. But we played well against the top teams and showed that this roster has potential.
During the press conference, the League signed Final Four partnerships with Fonbet and Academservice.
League general director Ilona Korstin: The Final Four has already become an attractive marketing product and we’re attracting sponsors specifically for this event. Academservice signed an additional contract specifically for the Final Four. And, of course, I want to present Fonbet, a new League sponsor.
Fonbet general director Alexander Paramonov: We are happy to become part of the VTB United League Final Four. Basketball is one of the most popular sports for fans as well as those who enjoy betting on sports. Our company strives to support the country’s top leagues and the VTB United League is one of them. We are already holding talks about continuing our partnership with the League next season. Good luck to everyone in the Final Four