16 - 24
July 2016
10 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (UKR)
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Mykhailiuk ready to sacrifice for collective success

HELSINKI (FIBA U20 European Championship 2016) – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk vows to do 'whatever it takes' to lead Ukraine to FIBA U20 European Championship glory.

The 2.00m guard arrived in Helsinki having only just begun to show what he is capable of during his second year at the University of Kansas.

Mykhailiuk averaged 5.4 points-per-game in 12.9 minutes of action coming off the bench for the Jayhawks last season, displaying flashes of his true potential. 

But things are a little different with the national team.

He announced his arrival on the international stage in style back in 2013 by earning a place on the All-Star Five at the FIBA U16 European Championship, averaging more than 25 points and eight rebounds-per-game on a struggling side.

More standout performances followed at the FIBA U18 European Championship Division B in 2014 before American coach Mike Fratello included the then 17-year-old on his FIBA Basketball World Cup roster later that year.

He has returned to the national team set-up this summer, and is reunited with coach Maksym Mikhelson, who oversaw his early development in Cherkasy and has even travelled to the American Midwest to put him through summer workouts.

And the pair appear to share a real connection.

"He has been my coach all my life," said Mykhailiuk, after scoring six points in overtime to lift Ukraine to a 72-70 success against Latvia

"He trusts me and I trust him. This makes me feel better, like I have more freedom and I can do more. This helps me."

Mykhailiuk also got a lot of help from team-mates Oleksandr Kobets and Serhii Pavlov as Ukraine fought back from 23 points down to beat Latvia on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old finished with 17 points but had his share of struggles during regulation, committing seven turnovers, before finding another gear in overtime – on both ends of the floor – to lift his team to victory and the top of Group C.

His on-court awareness and understanding of different situations was at a consistently high level, however.

This is perhaps one of the reasons Mykhailiuk is able to adapt so effortlessly to the different roles and rules he is exposed to between the European and north American game.

"We just started playing really good D [defence], we stopped letting them score really easy points in the paint and we just played aggressive," he said of this latest win.

"I just want to do whatever I need to do to help my team win. I want to help make my team-mates better, represent my country and try and win every game. I am trying to do what is best for my team, not for myself.

"It doesn’t matter what stats I’m going to get. I just want the team to win.

"Basketball is the same everywhere. I just need a couple of days to adjust, with the shot clock being 24 seconds. 

"I’m a leader on this team. I have to help my team win, it doesn’t matter how; score, make assists, play defence, sit on the bench."

After the opening three days’ play in Helsinki it is difficult to say where any team sits in terms of the tournament power rankings.

What we do know is that Belgium stand between Ukraine and a place in the last eight – and Mykhailiuk will stop at nothing to find a way to steer his team to victory.

He added: "In this division, everyone can beat everyone. Serbia beat Slovenia, we beat Serbia, we lost to Slovenia. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.

"We came here to win a gold medal. That’s our goal."