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Sergey Karasev ready to leave own mark for under-the-radar Russia
WUHAN (China) - Russia are flying under the radar at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in terms of expectations from outside observers. One player who has no problem with that is Sergey Karasev as he looks to leave his own legacy on this competition, with his father's example a source of personal inspiration.
Russia return to the FIBA Basketball World Cup after missing out on Spain 2014. And Sergey Bazarevich's team has been drawn into Group B with games against Nigeria, Korea and Argentina. There are quite a few who believe Russia might not make it out of the First Round. Thanks for the low expectations, says Karasev.
"Not a lot of people are talking about us, but it doesn't really matter because we know our talent and potential," the 25-year-old Karasev said. "Being out of the spotlight isn't a bad thing because we can do our work and keep improving to be in the best shape and dynamic for this very important tournament."
"PLAYING IN A WORLD CUP IS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE AGAINST THE WORLD'S FINEST."
Karasev emphasized Russia are ready to make a long run in China.
"We can surprise a lot of people. We have plenty of experience, players that have very good talent and the mindset is very positive. We are ambitious and we will play every game with all of our heart and energy. That is super important for all of us, for the national team and for the country. We are ready to show that Russia is solid, and still very competitive," he said.
"Still very competitive" since Russia will be without their best player as Alexey Shved suffered a partial rupture of the plantar fascia.
That means Karasev will be that much more important for Bazarevich's team. The 6ft 6in (2.02m) swingman averaged 11.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 32 percent from three-point range in seven games in the European Qualifiers.
Karasev said the Russians are very excited about finally starting the tournament in Wuhan, tipping off against Nigeria.
"NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT US, BUT IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER."
"Having a great start is very, very important as there are only three games to try to get to the next round and every team is going to play at 100 percent to try to have the longest run they can. Every team is excited, ready to get the tournament going," Karasev said. "And we have to be at 100 percent from day one to avoid any surprises."
The 2019 edition of the FIBA Baskebtall World Cup will actually be Karasev's second time on the global stage at the senior level, as he appeared at the 2012 Olympics, albeit playing a minor role in London, with Russia claiming bronze.
However, it is not the first time the Karasev name will be at the World Cup as Sergey's father Vasily played in 1994, 1998 and 2002 - helping Russia to second place at Canada 1994 and Athens 1998.
"He had so much success in the World Cups he competed at, I have always been so proud of that. I don't remember a lot about it as I was very young, but I saw some videos about it as I got older and it was so great to see him and the national team winning medals in a competition like the FIBA Basketball World Cup," Karasev said.
The Khimki Moscow Region guard says he and his father have talked a lot about the up-coming tournament.
Vasily Karasev at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 1998
"We talked often about it, and he gives me very good advice about how it is to compete against the world's best, even if it was more than 20 years ago," he said. "I can feel that playing in a World Cup is a unique opportunity to compete against the world's finest in a long format competition, where there are so many steps and games to win to reach the medal spots. I feel very proud to have him as someone from whom I can get advice, and he taught me a lot about the game, showing me examples of when the national team played in the past. That is a priceless learning process."
Sergey Karasev has already made a big impression on the international landscape. He did collect a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics but really didn't play a role in Russia making the podium in London. Karasev did, however, help Russia to third place at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2011, including a big victory over the United States in the Quarter-Finals.
With the advice of a two-time FIBA Basketball World Cup silver medal-winning father, the experience of the 2012 Olympics as an 18-year-old and the ease of tempered expectations, Sergey Karasev and Russia are poised and ready to shine in China.