Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Basketball in Kiev

Sports have always been a big deal in Ukraine. From soccer against the Nazis during WWII to basketball today, Ukraine has been at the center of the athletics world. Ukraine boasts six professional basketball clubs. The teams include BCK Dinamo Dnepropetrovsk, BC Kyiv, MBC Nikolacv, MBK Odessa, BC Pulsar and BK Sunny. The BC Kyiv team plays in the capital of Kiev. While professional basketball is big inside Ukraine, Ukrainian players have come to the U.S. and played in the NBA and NBA Developmental league. The following is a list of male players that have or currently play in either of the two leagues mentioned earlier:
- Kyrylo Fesenko
- Viktor Khryapa
- Sergei Lishouk
- Alexander Lokhmanchuk
- Slava Medvedenko (Current, Atlanta Hawks)
- Dleksiy Pecheroy
- Anatoli Polivoda
- Vitaly Potapenko (Current, Sacramento Kings)
- Alexander Volkov

Similarly to the United States, women's basketball is also popular in Ukraine. Many women's payers have come to the United States to play collegiately. One such player is Olga Firvosa. Olga played to Kansas State Women's Basketball from 1998 to 2000 as the teams starting center. The 6'6" Firsova is a native of Kiev and currently works for Kansas State Women's Basketball as their film exchange coordinator. 

While most people don't think of Kiev or Ukraine as an athletic powerhouse, both have done quite formidably in relation to other European countries in producing collegiate and professional basketball plaers. 


Steve Taylor said...

That's pretty interesting. Did you find anything about American players not good enough for the NBA going to Ukraine to play? I didn't realize there were two Ukrainians in the NBA... I know Kirilenko plays for the Jazz, but he's Russian.

Also, do you know if soccer or hockey is more popular there? I'm guessing soccer, but I'm not sure.

Brittany said...

That is very interesting. Are there collegiate sports in the Ukraine? Since there are so many professional leagues, I was wondering how the recruiting process works... have you seen anything on that? Very cool topic!

Jonathan Cohn said...

Wow I never realized that some of those players that I have heard of are Ukranian. I was wondering if it was a goal for the best basketball players in the country to come to the United States and play in the NBA or if it was a select few. I am sure that many great basketball players are in the Ukraine like many other European countries but maybe they would rather just stay home?

Also, is the Ukranian olympic team based out of Kiev or do they play and practice elsewhere?

I really found it awesome to see that Ukranians are in the NBA and NBDL

Kathryn Esper said...

This is a very interesting post. It lead me to look up Ukraine's participation in the Olympic games

# of Olympics Participated in:
Summer games 35
Winter games 31
Overall ranking 36

Summer Olympic Performance
Atlanta 1996: 9 gold, 2 silver, 12 bronze
Sydney 2000: 3 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze
Athens 2004: 9 gold, 5 silver, 9 bronze

Scott Strogatz said...

I wonder if there are any America basketball players in Ukraine? Many college players that aren't quite good enough for the NBA end up playing all over Europe and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few Americans over there. Slava Medvedenko won a few NBA championships back in the day with the Lakers! Very impressive.