RUS - Sokolovsky backs new Russia women's coach Vainauskas
KAZAN (EuroBasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - There is no trace of bitterness in the voice of Boris Sokolovsky when he talks about Russia’s decision not to keep him in charge of the women's national team.
Now an assistant coach with the men's club Unics Kazan in Russia, Sokolovsky had success at the helm of the women's national side during his three years in charge but also failure, at least by the country’s lofty standards.
His crowning achievement was to steer the national side to a gold medal at the EuroBasket Women in Poland in 2011, yet the summer before his team fell to Belarus in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women in the Czech Republic.
The federation decided before Christmas to put Lithuanian Alfredas Vainauskas in charge of the team.
"The result of the Olympic Games wasn't good," Sokolovsky said.
"So the management of the Russian Basketball Federation made their decision."
Sokolovsky believes the federation has put an excellent coach in charge of the team.
"I know the new coach Alfredas Vainauskas very well," he said.
"He's a good coach and a good person.
"I believe he can create a good chemistry inside the team.
"His basketball intellect is high enough and he was a strong player and I hope that everything will go okay.
"Maybe he'll get back some experienced players, which would be good for the European Championship in France."
The most important player that was missing for Sokolovsky in London was long-time center Maria Stepanova, who suffered a serious knee injury several months before the Olympics while competing for UMMC Ekaterinburg at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
"Stepanova is a great player and her injury didn't allow my team to go up a level and take a medal," Sokolovsky said, "yet we must remember that Masha is 34 this year.
"But she is playing well enough and can help the national team for one or two more years.
Abrosimova wasn't included in last year's squad and though Korstin was at the London Games, she didn't play much for Sokolovsky.
"Abrosimova is a good player, and a leader, but if you see her statistics and the quality of her game (now), it's up and down" Sokolovsky said.
"Ilona Korstin is the same.
"Their time has gone away.
"I respect them, though, and they did a lot for Russia and the national team."