Foreigners left the women’s championship. The quality has dropped, but the struggle makes up for everything

Marat Araslanov

Marat Araslanov

Foreign basketball players left Russia

For many years, Russian women’s basketball complained about the abundance of foreign players. Now they are almost gone.

Let’s be frank with the first sentence of this text. Interest in women’s basketball in Russia was not very high, and when one team wins for more than 10 years in a row, dominating not only in the domestic championship, but also in Europe, it tends to zero.

UMMC can be criticized for anything and even for a big budget, but the team’s managers played exactly according to the rules they were allowed to. They made (quite serious) contributions to the basketball federation for each legionnaire, collected the best of the best, providing them with all the conditions for one goal – to win.

Russian national team players Maria Vadeeva and Elizaveta Shabanova fighting for the ball

Russian national team players Maria Vadeeva and Elizaveta Shabanova fighting for the ball

Photo: BC UMMC

But what happened happened, and by the final stage of the playoffs in our championship, de facto, there was only one foreign basketball player left – Slovenian Eva Lizek from Dynamo Kursk. Belarusian Maria Popova (UMMC) and injured Belgian Ben Abdelkader (Nika) will be put out of brackets. It turns out that the dream of those who have been advocating for a tightening of the limit on foreign players for many years has come true.

What has it given now?

Since the departure of foreign players happened at the end of the regular season, teams with a large number of foreign players simply did not have time to replace them normally. No, Albina Razheva and Ksenia Tikhonenko, who had previously performed in Europe, arrived in Yekaterinburg, but the team was actually reassembled. In addition, the UMMC had to urgently look for a head coach to replace Miguel Mendez.

As a result, in mid-March, the renewed UMMC sensationally lost to the MBA, breaking a streak of 73 consecutive victories in the Premier League championship. It is symbolic that the “Foxes” lost to the Moscow team, which makes a special emphasis on the absence of foreigners in its composition. By the way, it was the MBA that became the first team in almost 20 years that was able to win medals in the Russian championship without the help of legionnaires.

Silver medalist of the Tokyo Olympics in 3x3 basketball Anastasia Logunova is fighting with an opponent

Silver medalist of the Tokyo Olympics in 3×3 basketball Anastasia Logunova is fighting with an opponent

Photo: PBK MBA

As a result, the playoffs are the most interesting in recent years. Already in the first round, the current champion lost in the opening match, after which Maria Vadeeva had to turn the series around. For comparison, in the 2020/21 season, all playoff series except one ended with dry wins for the favorites. The same picture was in the 2018/19 season. There was no intrigue as such at any interval of the playoffs.

Each current series is fraught with surprises. The first match of the final, for example, went to Dynamo Kursk, after which the UMMC responded symmetrically with Vadeeva’s hands, equalizing the score in the series.

For the “bronze” Nika and MBA are really fighting. The Syktyvkar team won the first two matches at home and was already preparing to celebrate the victory in the capital, bringing a whole plane of fans to the third match (yes, imagine the team rented a whole plane!), but the next two matches were left for the MBA and now everything will be decided in the fifth match. When was this?

Now the outcomes of the confrontation are decided by the basketball players of the Russian national team, for whom our fans are so worried at the EuroBaskets and the selections for it. And all four of our Tokyo silver medalists in basketball 3×3 play here. They are no longer “marinated” on the bench, but are trusted with important attacks at the end of matches.

UMMC starting five looks unusual without foreigners

UMMC starting five looks unusual without foreigners

Photo: BC UMMC

Of course, the quality of basketball has declined. The stars of the women’s NBA and the Euroleague left without promising to return soon. Here, probably, there is no big reason for joy, but if you look for a reason for at least optimism, then it will definitely be found in the playing time of our point guards, who had to sit behind the backs of experienced legionnaires. In the number of shots of snipers who were previously allowed to look at the ring only in strictly defined cases. In the freedom of decision-making centers, who used to play purely auxiliary roles for their venerable colleagues.

“We just fulfilled our dream.” The Frolkin sisters made Russia proud of them

If you have been thinking about whether or not to watch women’s basketball, now is the time to answer it in the affirmative! Already on Saturday, MBA and Nika will play each other in the fifth game, and today at 19:00 Dynamo Kursk can finally become the champion of Russia, writing its name in history in golden letters.


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