Ilmārs Sūriška, “Latvijas Avīze”, JSC “Latvijas Mediji”
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Ukrainian team “Prometey” will play this season in the Latvian-Estonian basketball league. The team founded in 2018 by businessman Volodomir Dubinska reached the top very quickly – already in the second season, third place in the Ukrainian league and a place in the FIBA European Cup, a year after the championship title and a start of success in the Champions League, not hiding future plans for entry into the ULEB Euroleague. Due to the Russian invasion in March, the players were released, but the owners kept both the core of the squad and the manager Ronen Ginzburg, play in the Champions League and the high goals have not disappeared. The captain of “Prometey” Denis Lukašov has accepted a conversation with “Latvijas Avīzi”.
“We are very happy to have been accepted into the Latvian-Estonian league. The summer was difficult, we didn’t spend much time together because many of us played for the national team. Let’s try to find a common language quickly and gradually improve performance. L ‘coach and most of the players remained, so the requirements are known. In Riga we have excellent conditions: good apartments, a large Olympic center, which has both a basketball and a gym. Everything is provided for training and thinking only of basketball “said Denis Lukashov on the eve of the season.
Your budget is at least three times the size of the league’s closest followers.
I don’t know what budget the other teams have, but money is not gambled on the pitch, there are people. It has been proven more than once that teams with less financial resources can beat the big ones, so it all depends on the game and the mood of the team.
You participated in the European Championship as part of the Ukrainian national team. How painful was the defeat against Poland in the round of 16?
The minimum task was to get out of the group, which we secured in the first three games. Of course, the defeat against Poland was disappointing, we thought we had to win, we were in the right mood, but unfortunately the second half didn’t come. It must be admitted that Poland deservedly won and played in the quarter-finals the then European champion, Slovenia.
What is your relationship with the national team manager Ainars Bagatski?
Excellent, good, positive coach. In training it takes discipline and the execution of certain things, but off the pitch there is a very normal person who knows how to make a joke, advise something. He and his wife Ilze arranged for the Ukrainian national team to spend the summer in a camp in Riga, after the start of the war they helped Ukrainian children to get to Latvia, thanks to them.
Did you also participate in the trial, helping the young basketball players in your city to escape?
No, my hometown is Donetsk, which has been occupied by Russia for eight years.
When the war began, Bagatsky said in an interview: give me a machine gun and take it to the Kremlin.
Bagatsky often has cutting-edge interviews. At that moment everyone was shocked, I think that he too, having worked in Ukraine for many years, must be a neighboring country. Would I go shooting with Bagatski? If there was a chance to get to the man (Vladimir Putin) for whom millions of people are suffering, of course I would go with Bagatsky. It’s a great statement, but yes, I’d make a donation.
Some Ukrainians say they knew there was going to be a war, others didn’t believe it. How did you feel in the last few days before February 24th?
Fear, because there was the experience of 2014, when they conquered Crimea for the first time, knowing that our army was not ready to resist. No one expected that a neighboring nation – as was said at the time – would attack. At that time I was playing “Azovmash” in Mariupol, my parents lived in Donetsk, I often went to them when it all started there. We did not know how far it would go, in the fall I started representing “Budivelnik” in Kiev, I told my parents to move with me because there were shootings in the area. They haven’t lived there since 2015. In February of this year, I didn’t even want to believe there was going to be a war.
How has the war affected the lives of your loved ones?
The war has affected almost everyone in Ukraine, millions of people are grieved, thousands of young people have died, several hundred children have died. A week ago, our neighbor died at the front, his brother continues to serve in the Kherson region. We pray that it will all be over soon, we are extremely grateful to our armed forces. I understand that a diplomatic solution no longer exists and we are waiting for our army to expel the occupiers from the territory of Ukraine.
In Latvia, a collection of donations was started for the purchase of a “Bayraktar” drone for the Ukrainian armed forces. He needs five million euros, which is roughly Prometey’s budget. What is more important for Ukraine: to have a professional basketball team or an unmanned fighter plane?
In March, when they let us all go, the management of “Prometey” told me that a huge amount of money goes to the army, to the refugees, who help both financially and organizationally. He is not interrupted even for a moment by the involvement of the staff of the club president’s office. What’s more necessary for the country – I can’t say. The management of the club has decided that it is possible to keep the team, so the money can be allocated for both purposes.
Glory to Ukraine.
Glory to the heroes.