National Basketball Federation
of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Anatoly Kolesnikov hopes Kazakhstan home crowd will be even louder and rowdier in second window

16.02.2018    Views: 308
Source: FIBA

ASTANA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Anatoliy Kolesnikov loved the liveliness of Kazakhstan's home crowd in the first window of the Asian Qualifiers and hopes the support will be even better in their next games.

"I honestly was not expecting such a rowdy and loud crowd in the first window," he said. "It was the first time in Kazakhstan I experienced something like this, and it was great for all the players and everyone who came. I'm hoping it will continue to get louder and louder."

His countrymen had a lot to cheer for, of course, what with the Steppe Wolves coming away with not one but two big wins in the first window, giving them the inside track to secure one of the berths in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers. First, Kazakhstan beat Qatar 82:70 in Doha and then survived a gritty Iraq side to claim an 82:76 victory at home in Astana.

Those results mean Kazakhstan are the unlikely leaders in Group D, athough it'll be difficult to retain that spot, especially with powerhouse Iran as their next assignment. To continue their winning ways, Kolesnikov believes they need to play smart.

"Working hard and smart and having togetherness are the keys," the the 6ft 7in (2.00m) forward explained. "There really is no point talking about chances because at the end of the day it has to all be shown on the basketball court. It is the process which is the reward, and everything else is just a bonus. I feel if we continue in the process then everything else will take care of itself."

At 29 years of age, Kolesnikov is considered one of the veterans on the national team, which means coach Mikhail Karpenko will look to him for leadership. Kolesnikov is aware of how important this is, knowing full well that many from Kazakhstan's current generation are approaching the tail-end of their international careers.

"We have all showed a desire to represent our country to the fullest," he shared. "It is a huge honor that I am only now starting to realize the true responsibility of representing Kazakhstan. A lot of the senior players understand this may be the last opportunity to represent Kazakhstan on the world stage, so it is a do or die attitude for us. Combine this with a professional coaching staff and management, and we feel we can achieve some great things."

Kazakhstan will look to cause an upset against Iran on February 22 before eyeing a repeat success against Qatar three days later. Both fixtures will be home games for the Steppe Wolves, with the action taking place at the Republican Cycle Track Arena in Astana.

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