Today in St. Petersburg a press conference was held for the 10th Annual Vladimir Kondrashin and Alexander Belov Cup. The tournament will be held in the Yubileiny Sports Palace on Sept. 27 and 28.
Belov-Kondrashin Cup Starts in 10 Days
Today in St. Petersburg a press conference was held for the 10th Annual Vladimir Kondrashin and Alexander Belov Cup. The tournament will be held in the Yubileiny Sports Palace on Sept. 27 and 28. Tournament participants will be CSKA (Moscow, Russia), Tau Ceramica (Spain), Efes Pilsen (Turkey) and Virtus (Italy). The prize fund will be $50,000. The winner will receive $30,000, the finalist $15,000 and the third-place team $5,000.

The semifinal games will be held on the first day, and the third-place game and the final will be held on the second. Fans can expect a laser show, different contests and two cheerleader groups. While the tournament is going on, soccer fans will be able to watch on the big screen the Russian Premier League game between Rubin Kazan and Zenit St. Petersburg.

Igor Onokov, president of the Vladimir Kondrashin and Alexander Belov Basketball Development Fund, said that the teams will stay at the Baltic Star hotel. Special guests will stay at the Nevsky Palace. The guests will include veterans of Russian, Ukrainian and Baltic basketball.

According to PBC CSKA general director Sergei Kushchenko, 150 Army fans will travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg to support the Russian team.

Predicting the team’s chances in the tournament, Kushchenko said:

"All of the teams will bring their strongest players. CSKA will travel to St. Petersburg immediately after the tournament in Yugoslavia. It will be the first official games with their new rosters. Preseason games can be very unpredictable."

The Army club is acting as the tournament’s co-organizer. Kushchenko said that he had to attach the team’s name in order to attract the best of European basketball.

"We made offers to eight clubs. Benetton and Barcelona were ready to come, but their cup games begin early in their national leagues, so they had to decline. In any case, some of the strongest teams in Europe are coming to St. Petersburg. In the past, tournaments like this were held in Italy and Spain, but this time the clubs agreed to travel to Russia thanks to the participation of CSKA, and because they know the names Belov and Kondrashin.

There has been some controversy about the absence of St. Petersburg Spartak in the tournament. Vladimir Shitarev, president of the St. Petersburg Basketball Federation, criticized tournament organizers at a press conference:

"Two years ago I wrote a letter asking that the Cup become the most important Russian tournament. Everything speaks for this. But one thing doesn’t make sense: Why is it being held without Spartak? They tell me that the team may lose by 30 points. So what? It’s more important for us that the team doesn’t lose its face, popularity and attention. First of all, the tournament participants were to be Spartak, Ural-Great and CSKA, but then Spartak was quietly pushed out. This isn’t good with regards to the local population, the fans and St. Petersburg’s anniversary. So we lose by 30 or 40 points. That’s not the most important thing. Money and business are probably deciding everything."

Igor Onokov responded:

”From the beginning of April and May, we tried to organize Spartak’s participation, but also so it would be a top-flight tournament. It turned out that these two factors were incompatible. We would have had to find teams at the level of Spartak, as was done last year. But back then the stands were been empty. No fans and no sponsors did not come, nor did government representatives. The cup didn’t spark the slightest interest in the public and attracted no attention. The other option was to show St. Petersburg the basketball of Spartak’s glorious past, when Belov was their star. So that sponsors would come and see that the city still loves and watches basketball. We took that route. It was a very difficult decision. Yes, it’s bad without Spartak, and we understand that. But on the other hand, its like an operation that has to be done on a sick person in order for him to get better. We discussed it with veterans. The current Spartak isn’t a team equal to the level of Belov or Kondrashin. Pretty soon those names will be history, so we have not time to lose."

The widows of Kondrashin and Belov ended the discussion. They said that at the beginning it was difficult for them to deal with the fact that Spartak would not be playing in the tournament. But after listening to the arguments, they agreed with the decision.

All of the tournament’s organizers expressed the hope that this tournament will help the development of basketball in St. Petersburg. "We hope to see the basketball of the 1980s, which we are used to. It’s obvious, that not everything is perfect in St. Petersburg basketball. The Spartak tradition and the team’s current situation are different things altogether. We hope that the tournament will be attended by people who can help Spartak and all of St. Petersburg basketball."


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