Ukraine’s national men’s basketball team hopes their trip to Taiwan, if confirmed, will give their players peace of mind while they prepare for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European qualifier next month.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, team manager Andrii Lebediev said he hopes the new training environment will help the team refresh their minds amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“For sure they are worried about it and it would be a good change for them to stay here and (to help) change their minds a little bit and refresh,” Lebediev said.
Lebediev, two other national team staff members and a family member arrived in Taiwan on April 5 on a business visa after being invited by the Kaohsiung Steelers, a team under Taiwan’s professional basketball league P. League+.
The purpose of the visit, which was welcomed by P. League+ founder and CEO Blackie Chen, was to provide opportunities for professional exchanges about management and training.
The trip would also give players from both national teams the chance to play each other and help each other prepare for their respective upcoming events.
Ukraine is set to face Georgia for the European qualifiers on July 1, followed by North Macedonia on July 4. Taiwan will go up against China on July 1 in the Asian qualifiers before playing against Japan on July 3 and China on July 4.
“If we could play against the national team, it could help your team to prepare in the best way for the upcoming games of the World Cup [qualifiers]. I hope it would be both sides that benefit,” Lebediev said, also noting the difference in playstyles between the two teams.
“You play a different style, you love to shoot three-point shots a lot even after the first pass. In Europe, as well as the different style, they more play inside,” the team manager said. “I think it would be a good experience for us to play against a team with such a style of play.”
The Chinese Taipei Basketball Association has yet to officially confirm that the trip has been set up.
Ukraine’s national basketball team was competing in the FIBA World Cup European qualifiers in Spain on February 24, right around the time when Russia began its invasion of the Eastern European country.