VTB United League president Sergey Kushchenko recapped the Final Eight in St. Petersburg and also shared which teams might play in the youth league next season.
On the championship game
The excitement was at its best in the final game of the VTB Youth League. Despite the final margin, the intensity was there until the final minutes! CSKA was a clear favorite, but Khimki’s effort and teamwork came out on top. CSKA had won four times in a row. Now there’s a new champion in the VTB Youth League.
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On the format and team goals
The format of the competition changes a bit every time. We’ll make some adjustments this summer, too, because the current format is also not perfect. The clubs are not accomplishing all of the goals they have set for themselves. Some clubs want to win win the league, others want to prepare at least 1-2 players for the senior team. But we saw that there is coaching strategy and players who can reach the next level soon and join VTB United League rosters.
On players in the Youth League that have played at the next level
We’ll publish the stats soon: How many players from the youth level have reached the senior teams? Avtodor, Nizhny Novgorod and PARMA are among the leaders. The conversion rates among the top five teams are lower, but they also have several players that have earned a spot on the roster.
On the organization of the Final Eight
I want to thank the SIBUR Arena and BC Zenit for doing a wonderful job with the tournament. I can say without hesitation that we made the right decision choosing St. Petersburg as the host of the Final Eight. Not all Youth League games are held in the right spot, as you might say. The modern, popular SIBUR Arena is definitely a good place to play. I think based on the level of play and organization, this was the best Final Eight ever.
On potential newcomers to the Youth League
The Youth League is listening carefully to the changes that the clubs want to make. In that regard, the Youth League system develops players. Right now we have several applications, including from Spartak-Primorye in Vladivostok and MBA Moscow. That says our project is moving in the right direction.
On Nikita Mikhailovsky
Nikita Mikhailovsky needs to decide for himself where he wants to be and play tomorrow. In my opinion, the Nikita Mikhailovsky of the past and this season are two different players. At the Final Eight, he should have been head and shoulders above everyone else. He probably did not play at the level everyone expected from him. Nikita is very talented. I hope with the help of the Avtodor management and coaches, he will develop into a big-time player.