258 players and 20 head coaches from 16 different teams participated in the sixth edition of VTB United League. 11 rookies of these days participated in 2019/20 season.
Recalling 2014/15 representatives in VTB League in 2020:
Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA
Stats: 35 wins in 39 games
When 2013/14 season was underway, Ettore Messina announced that he would leave CSKA. The Army club was supposed to choose a decorated coach as a replacement. However, they surprised everyone by signing 43-year-old Dimitris Itoudis.
By that time, Itoudis had had almost no experience in leading a top club, but the time proved CSKA management made a right choice. In his first season, the Greek won the League with 89.7% victories and qualified to Euroleague’s Final Four.
Within 6 seasons in CSKA, Dimitris Itoudis has become the most winning coach of United League: 173 wins in 192 games (90.1%).
Janis Timma, VEF
Stats: 28 games, 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals
In 2014, Timma won Latvian league with Ventspils, so VEF Riga didn’t miss a chance to sign 22-year-old forward. Janis made a solid debut in VTB League: averaged 15.8 points in the first 4 games and was recognized as the best young player of October, hit 26 points bar twice in the regular season and won Rookie of the Year award.
And still, he didn’t manage to get VEF to the playoffs. Riga and Astana were competing for the last Top 8 spot, VEF came back from -13, and Janis Timma scored 17. However, Astana’s Jerry Johnson made a game winning free throw on the last second of the regulation time.
In the summer, Janis Timma moved to Zenit to spend 2 seasons and set a career high result: 35 points against Avtodor.
Mareks Mejeris, VEF
Stats: 30 games, 7.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals
Mareks Mejeris was another VEF rookie in 2014/15 season as he came back from Fuenlabrada. The forward immediately reserved a starting five spot, had about 25 minutes per game, and rocked the opponents’ paint.
Mareks spent most of his career in VEF. It was only last summer, when Kazys Maksvytis invited him to PARMA; and just like Riga, Perm enjoys his offensive rebounds.
Artem Klimenko, Avtodor
Stats: 22 games, 5.9 points, 2.9 rebounds
Superleague-1 best center joined VTB League in 2014 along with Avtodor. Aged only 20, he showed decent performance in the first games: 12.5 points per game in October, 2014. However, an injury left him outside the court for 2 months which affected the rest of the season as the center didn’t look that solid after his comeback.
Despite all that, Artem Klimenko was named Rookie of the Year, and in 2019 came to the All-Star Game in Moscow as a center of UNICS.
Ivan Strebkov, CSKA
Stats: 18 games, 2.6 points
The guard started his professional career in CSKA in 2012 and could have made his debut much earlier, but due to competition in the Army club he missed playing time and was sent to Avtodor. In Saratov, Strebkov won bronze medals of 2013 Superleague, and year later won the title averagin more than 10 points.
CSKA got him back from loan, and Ivan played in 2014/15 season of the United League. 8 points against Tsmoki was his highlight of the year. Aged 23, he won VTB League, and a month after the finals moved to Nizhny Novgorod where he’s been playing until today.
Robert Lowery, VEF
Stats: 17 games, 11.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals
Many people loved this charismatic guard for his performance in Tsmoki or Astana, but Lowery’s first steps in VTB League were made in Riga. When the season was underway, the point guard moved to VEF from the Greek Koroivos, to add up energy to his new team and in the end of the regular season, he reached his top performance level.
In March, Robert averaged 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals which, nonetheless, were not enough to secure a playoff spot for VEF.
Artem Komolov, Zenit
Stats: 29 games, 3.1 points
Army academy alumnus had a deal with CSKA, but made his debut in Zenit jersey bein on loan in St. Petersburg. Komolov’s contribution to Zenit’s game was not bad: 15 points against Krasnyi Oktyabr, 14 points against Krasnye Krylia, 11 against CSKA…
However, after a season in Zenit, Komolov moved to Ural, and came back to the League in 2017 only as a NN player.
Andrei Desiatnikov, Zenit
Stats: 13 games, 2.8 points, 2.0 rebounds
The center was supposed to play a season in an experimental Russia national team. However, due to number of injuries in Zenit, Desiatnikov appeared in the League in February, 2015, and played 10 games of the regular season. Andrei had 3 playoff games against Nizhny who downed Zenit (3-2).
With 220 cm, Andrei Desiatnikov became the tallest player of 2014/15 season.
Aigars Skele, VEF
Stats: 4 games
22-year-old guard appeared in VTB League as VEF player, but in January he moved to Valmiera due to strong competition in Riga. By that time, Aigars Skele had played 4 games in the United League without points scored.
5 years later, Skele came back to the League and became one of the key players for Kalev who were ranked fifth after terminated 2019/20 season.
Alexey Babushkin, Zenit
Stats: 4 games
Just like Desiatnikov, Alexey Babushkin was in the roster of experimental Russia national team, but also played 4 matches for Zenit. The guard met Enisey, Tsmoki, Nizhny Novgorod and Astana and Zenit won all those games.
After 2014/15 season, Babushkin played in Superleague, and during 2019 offseason joined Avtodor.
Yauheni Beliankou, Tsmoki-Minsk
Stats: 7 games, 1.3 points, 1.3 rebounds
Minsk basketball academy alumnus was invited to Tsmoki main team in 2014. Aged only 19, Beliankou played 9 games where Kalev was the best one: 5 points, 5 rebounds and 8 efficiency points.
Beliankou spent his entire career in Tsmoki, and in 2020 became one of the most athletic players of his team.