Tanya Spasev: «The youth of Loko have the best conditions in Russia – I am sure of it»

Before the start of the season in the Super League, the head coach of SSHOR-Lokomotiv-Kuban spoke about the team's readiness, tournament tasks and the benefits of the Spartakiada, and also paid tribute to the new youth training center.
You were appointed head coach of the team in July. How effectively, in your opinion, did you manage to carry out the pre-season work?
I plunged into work immediately after the appointment. By this point, I already had a pretty good idea of what the team was like after last season. Many players remained in the squad, I knew what they could do. I got to know the others quickly. And we had enough time to prepare qualitatively for the start of the Super League. In my opinion, our entire staff – coaches, medical staff, administrators – is well staffed. Our responsibilities are clearly distributed between us, and I have no complaints about how colleagues cope with them. In general, I am completely satisfied with the pre-season work.
Did the team's participation in the Russian Spartakiad interfere with the preparation for the season? (At this tournament, the Krasnodar region team was made up on the basis of the SSHOR-Lokomotiv-Kuban team and eventually won bronze medals. – note of the club press service).
On the contrary, the Spartakiad helped us a lot! Five games in seven days against teams of the IBA level (on the basis of this club the national team of the Moscow region was made up – note of the club press service) in excellent conditions, with high sports intensity - one can only dream of such a pre–season tournament. We got a great opportunity to compare our level with the level of our rivals, we realized what we still need to work on. In addition, we managed to win bronze medals, so the team was charged with the right emotions.
Did you have a good time to study the Super League? What do you know about the upcoming opponents?
I am a coach, and by virtue of my profession I follow many basketball tournaments. The Super League has been on my list for a long time. I would say since I worked in Poland – then we wanted to take one player from the Super League and carefully guided him. A few years later, I was an assistant at Khimki, whose double I played in this tournament. At that time, I watched a lot of Super League games live. So yes, I have a very good idea of the level of the league and specific opponents.
How do you assess the composition of SSHOR-Locomotive-Kuban? After all, most of them are young guys who will have to play against experienced opponents.
I keep repeating: the best opportunity to progress comes when you play with someone who is stronger than you. Yes, most of our competitors will have adult, physically formed men with a lot of muscle mass on the court. But you have to get used to tight basketball in order to feel better in such a game later. Therefore, we will try to make the most of these conditions.
You have worked a lot in Europe. What, in your opinion, is the difference between the training of young people there and in Russia?
I have seen my own peculiarities in each country: somewhere they pay more attention to the game aspects, somewhere they pump physics more. But I can definitely say that in Russia, compared to most of the countries where I have worked, there is an excellent infrastructure for the development of young people. Many clubs have well-equipped training centers. A wonderful system of leagues has been built, where the youngsters (Tanya pronounced this word in Russian - a note from the club's press service) can gain strength and experience.
By the way, how do you like the new Youth Training Center? Are there conditions in it to bring the training of young people to a qualitatively new level?
Absolutely! Centers of this level throughout Europe can be counted on the fingers of one hand. If we take only Russia, then the youth of Loko definitely have the best conditions – I am sure of it. Such infrastructure is already something of the level of football super clubs. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.
Does it happen that you are given some instructions from the main team? Something like "we are playing such a scheme", "we give such a player more time"?
We have a lot of points of contact with the main team. I am well acquainted with Yurica Zhuzha, Alexander Sekulich's assistant. And in Khimki, I worked together with Alejandro Garcia (the physical training coach of Lokomotiv Kuban - a note from the club's press service). Today we received three players who were in the application for the VTB United League match against the IBA yesterday. So the interaction is constant and dense. As for the unified training vertical, we work out the game in defense according to the same scheme as the main team. The task of preparing players so that they can join the first team as easily as possible always remains one of our main priorities.
Last season, SSHOR-Lokomotiv-Kuban did not have any special tournament tasks in the Super League. It was much more important to build a bridge between youth basketball and the VTB United League. Do they expect high sports results from you?
Even when preparing young people, I never forget that I am a sports coach. Wherever I work, I always give the same attitude: the next match is the most important final, and you have to fight hard to win it. To grow faster, you need to win as often as possible. Young players need to find themselves in situations as often as possible when they need to play reliably in the clutch, make the right decision under great pressure, execute a winning throw at the last second. Then they will learn to stay focused in any situation faster.
So, what about the tournament challenges for the season? To get to the playoffs, to the semifinals, to the finals?
I repeat: the task is to win every next match. And where it will lead us according to the results of the Super League – we'll see.
And in the Russian Cup?
And in the Russian Cup.
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