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08 - 20
August 2017
6 Rustam MURZAGALIYEV (Kazakhstan)
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Murzagaliev hoping to restore Kazakhstan to a lofty place in Asia

ASTANA (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Rustam Murzagaliev was just a teenager when Kazakhstan last finished among Asia's top 4 teams, but he is determined to restore their lofty status in the continent.

To do that, the player nicknamed "Muzar" hopes their national team can make big strides this year, most especially in the coming FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon and the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asia Qualifiers that begin in November. He is confident that with a couple of veterans leading their tall and talented core, the Snow Leopards - easily the best team in Central Asia - can turn more than a few heads and pull the rug from more than a few other teams to break into at least the top 8 of the FIBA Asia Cup.

That's a tall order considering the improvement in terms of talent and exposure of many other national teams in Asia. And whereas countries like Iran, China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines have robust local professional leagues, Kazakhstan's own local league has floundered. Muzar is hopeful that a strong showing by the national team this year can spark a significant turnaround in the country's fortunes and set a stronger foundation for future generations.

He talked about these in a recent interview with FIBA.com

How do you like your chances of doing well at the the FIBA Asia Cup 2017?
I think we have a good chance to show other teams that we are able to be competitive, and I think this is our main goal for the FIBA Asia Cup.

It has been 10 years since Kazakhstan finished in the top 4 of FIBA Asia. How has Kazakh basketball evolved or changed these past few years, and how does the team plan to regain its place at the top?
It was a long time ago, 2007 I believe, when we finished in the top 4. I was still young and taking my first steps in the sport back in those days! Now, Kazakh basketball is completely different. Only two of our main starters remain - Anton Ponomarev and Rustam Yargaliev. It will be a really tough test to return to the top 4, but I think now, most importantly, we need to get our confidence back. We want to get Kazakh basketball back to a high place, and I do believe we have the ability to be among the top 8.

Which players have a good shot of making the national team this year?
Veterans Ponomarev and Yergaliev will lead our team. We also hope for progress for my fellow teammates at BC Astana like Max Marchuk and Alexandr Zhigulin. We also have faith in our experienced big man Dimitri Gavrilov.

How is the local league in Kazakhstan, and how is it helping the level of competition improve in the country?
We have a really big problem with our local competition. Right now, we have only three teams, which is definitely bad for the improvement of our competitiveness. We do participate in the elite VTB league, but this is another story.

What is your earnest wish for Kazakhstan basketball in general moving forward?
My wish is simple - let's have more local teams, so we can create a better future for our youngsters who have dreams to be pro players.

Отборочная игра 🏀🇰🇿 #basketball #basketballneverstops #kazbasket #kazbasketball #almatybasketball

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