World basketball map: Kazakhstan

World basketball map: Kazakhstan

We are recalling all foreign players that have ever played in the League, telling about foreign championships and National teams of different countries in World basketball map project. Today we’re going to talk about basketball in Kazakhstan.

Population: 18.7 mln
Players in the history of League: 24
Full list of playersRuslan Aitkali, Nikolay Bazhin, Yegor Biryulin, Maxim Voyeikov, Dmitriy Gavrilov, Denis Degtyarev, Rustam Yergali, Aleksandr Zhigulin, Pavel Ilin, Dmitry Klimov, Anatoly Kolesnikov, Vitaliy Lapchenko, Andrey Litvinenko, Askar Maidekin, Maxim Marchuk, Roman Marchuk, Rustam Murzagaliyev, Alimbek Orazov, Robert Pan, Anton Ponomarev, Artem Skorniakov, Timur Sultanov, Vsevolod Fadeikin, Vadim Shcherbak

There were 24 Kazakhstan players in the history of VTB United League, and all represented Astana. The leaders by seasons played are Rustam Murzagaliyev (8 seasons), Rustam Yergali (7 seasons), Anton Ponomarev (7 seasons) and Maxim Marchuk (7 seasons).

In 2013-2016, VTB League also had the Best Kazakh Player prize for the regular season. Anatoliy Kolesnikov and Anton Ponomarev both have 2 awards. Furthermore, Ponomorev is Kazakhstan top scorer of the League (741 points).

There were also two American players with Kazakh passports: guards Jerry Johnson (2011-2016) and Anthony Clemmons (2017-2019).

Basketball in Kazakhstan

League: National league
Founded: 2001
Number of teams: 6
League’s web-site

The National league was founded in 2001. Within 19 years, there have been five different champions of Kazakhstan. Astana, the most succesfull club, has 8 titles.

In 2019/20 season, the National league featured 6 teams from 6 cities: Astana (Nur-Sultan), Barsy Atyrau (Atyrau), Tobol (Kostanay), Sinegoryie (Kokshetau), Aktobe (Aktobe) and Kaspiy (Aktau). Apart from the National league, they also compete in the Cup of Kazakhstan.

Since 2011, Astana have been the only team to represent Kazakhstan in VTB United League. In 2017, the team played in FIBA Asia Champions Cup and won bronze medals. Another Kazakhstan team Barsy Atyrau represented the country in the Baltic league in 2015-2018.

In 2019/20 season, there were 5 Russian players in Kazakhstan league. Sinegoriye’s Russian forward Roman Lagutin set the season high for points (40) and three-pointers made (6).

Interesting fact

In 2016, Kazakhstan hosted a FIBA event for the first time. It was 3×3 U18 World Cup. The event was held in Astana, and Kazakhstan national team took 11th place (of 20).

Kazakhstan National team

FIBA rank: 75
FIBA members: since 1992
Achievements: 9 appearances at Asia Cup

Kazakhstan joined FIBA in 1992 and made first Asia cup appearance three years later. At the event in South Korea, Kazakhstan national team won 6 of 8 games and took the 5th place.

Their best result was 4th place at 2007 Asia cup in Japan. Kazakhstan reached the semifinal game, but later lost to Iran (62:75) and South Korea (76:80) which left them without medals.

Today, Kazakhstan national team is led by Astana’s head coach Emil Rajkovic. The team is ranked 75th in FIBA global rating (13th of 43 Asian teams).

Most famous Kazakh players in history

Alzhan Zharmukhamedov. The legendary center, born in Kazakh Tavaksay village, won the Olympics (1972), three Eurobaskets (in USSR national team), Euroleague as a CSKA player (1971), and 10 USSR leagues. In the 70s, Zharmukhamedov was nicknamed “The Turkestani kobra” for his playing style.

Valeri Tikhonenko. 207-cm tall player started his career in Alma-Ata’s SKA, won the Olympics (being SKA player), 1985 Eurobasket, three Russian leagues and two MVPs of Russian league. In 2000-2002, Valeri Tikhonenko coached CSKA Moscow, and in 2011 became a general manager of Astana, the most honored club of Kazakhstan.

Uvais Akhtaev. One of the tallest players in basketball history (236 cm). In 1947-1957, he played for Burevestnik of Alma-Ata contributing to popularization of basketball in Kazakhstan. Akhtaev – nicknamed Vasya Chechen – became the first Soviet player to make a two-hand dunk, and the first to make a full court pass.

Oleg Meleschenko. Born in Ekibastuz, spent 8 first professional years in SKA Alma-Ata, won USSR Cup and silver medals of the last Soviet league. In 1990, he won World Cup silver medal with USSR national team.

Yuri Zhukanenko. Born in Alma-Ata, played for local SKA in 1981-1991. The guard played with Valeri Tikhonenko and Oleg Meleschenko. In 1992 and 1998, Zhukanenko won silver medals of Russian league, and bronze in 1994 and 1995.

Dmitriy Kolinov