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1 Dec, 2008 07:46

Foreign basketball stars love Kazan

When you look at the top three finishers in the Russian Superleague over the last eight years, you will consistently find the name Unics Kazan. The 2006 season was the only disappointment, when the club failed to claim a podium finish.

The arrival of Serbian coach Aco Petrovic in December of 2007 coincided with a return to form. 

“We have a lot of new players this season. And our problems are the same as everyone's in a similar situation. The main one of course is to reach the desired form of the team and to get the newcomers up to speed. But despite that, I'm glad we've gone through the ULEB qualification round and reached the final four of the Russian cup,” Aco Petrovic said.

The Russian Superleague is dominated by CSKA Moscow, who have won the top trophy for the last six seasons. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're the only team making a noise in Europe.

The Russian championship remains probably the most competitive and attractive to foreign players.

Terrell Lyday has been playing in Europe since 2001 and is a new arrival to Kazan.

“The level of basketball in Russia has always been tough. But this year it became really tough,” Terrell Lyday said. 

The capital of the republic of Tatarstan remains highly popular with foreign athletes. Each of the republic's six major sports teams have an international contingent to help them find success.

Traditionally the foreign legion prefers to settle in the Russian capital. But recently provincial cities have been in the spotlight as well.

Mark Jackson is one foreigner, whose family gladly moved to Kazan.

“The people in Kazan are very friendly. The city is beautiful. I enjoy it,” he said.