Timofey Mozgov and Aleksey Shved are poised to return to national team action this summer as they headline Russia's preliminary squad for the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers which head coach Sergey Bazarevich announced on Tuesday.
The duo, as well as sharp-shooting winger Sergey Karasev who had missed out at FIBA EuroBasket 2015, are included on an 11-man core of players that will commence preparations on 18 July.
11-strong core of Russia's preliminary team
Semen Antonov Sergey Bykov Vitaly Fridzon Sergey Karasev
Dmitry Khvostov Pavel Korobkov Dmitry Kulagin Timofey Mozgov
Aleksey Shved Andrey Vorontsevich Andrey Zubkov
Mozgov, who is currently in his second season with NBA finalists Cleveland Cavaliers, had helped Russia advance from the FIBA EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round by contributing 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game but missed out on the big event last September. Shved, who returned home this season from his stint in the NBA and joined Khimki Moscow Region, last suited up for the national team at FIBA EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia and led Russia in scoring with 16.4 points per contest.
A further five or six preliminary squad members will emerge from a pre-camp which gets under way on 4 July and will give 22 up-and-coming players the chance to convince Bazarevich they deserve a spot at training camp proper alongside the main core.
22 candidates to join Russia's preliminary team
Anton Astapkovich Evgeny Baburin Nikita Balashov Andrey Desyatnikov
Petr Gubanov Aleksander Gudumac Stanislav Ilnitsky Vladimir Ivlev
Artem Klimenko Maxim Kolyushkin Artem Komolov Mikhail Kulagin
Denis Levshin Anton Pushkov Ivan Rusetsky Ivan Strebkov
Vladislav Trushkin Artem Vikhrov Aleksander Vinnik Denis Zakharov
Vyacheslav Zaytsev Nikita Zverev
Russia's captain at FIBA EuroBasket 2015, Sergey Monya, decided to terminate his long international career after that tournament and therefore is not included on this summer's preliminary team. Bazarevich has chosen to not call up long-serving guard Anton Ponkrashov, as well as Nikita Kurbanov and Egor Vyaltsev, in accordance with his mission statement for the necessity of a fresh start at the national team.
"Our aim is to qualify to FIBA EuroBasket 2017 but also to rejuvenate the team," Bazarevich told the Russian Federation (RBF) website prior to announcing the preliminary squad. "The national team needs a new face and this is not only my wish, it is also dictated by logic. It is complicated because there are several players who do not get much playing time at their clubs so we don't know if we can trust them. My task is to help some players assume a leading role on the national team."
Russia will play host to Belarus on 4 August in the first of their warm-up games this summer and two days later they will face Georgia in Moscow. Bazarevich's men will then travel to Tbilisi to take part in a four-nation tournament from 12 to 14 August, with the participation also of Ukraine, Netherlands and the hosts.
Almost immediately after the tournament in Georgia, the Russians will travel to Ulm in Germany to participate in a friendly tournament which also features Poland, Finland and the German side. Russia's last warm-up game is scheduled for 24 August, against Finland. The FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers tip off on 31 August and the Russians were drawn in Group C, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sweden.