By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
After going through almost three years without an official club game due to injuries and surgery, Timofey Mozgov finally made his big return this season as a Khimki player in the VTB League.
He missed two full seasons but his return to the court in the final part of the VTB League showed promise. Mozgov played in four regular-season games and in two more in the playoffs.
Nonetheless, the 34-year-old big faired strongly in all of them, with the last game of the season, against Lokomotiv Kuban, being his actual best. Mozgov scored 15 points on 7-11 shooting while adding four steals and three rebounds. And all of it in 21 minutes.
In recent days, Mozgov has been training with the national team and is expected to play in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Croatia where Russia will face Germany and Mexico in Group A, while in Group B await Croatia, Brazil, and Tunisia. He’s ready for the challenge and also for the next season.
“For sure I started to enjoy basketball again in the VTB League quarterfinals”, Mozgov told Eurohoops. “It feels bad we could not pass to the semis, cause I was feeling more and more enjoyment from every game. And it is hard to say now where my career will be continued, I just wanna play so hard after I was not able to be on the court for a couple of seasons. And for sure I am able to help my team on the court not just sitting on the bench or building chemistry in the locker room”.
After eight years in the NBA, Mozgov returned to Europe for Khimki in 2018. It was a long process of getting back to full health, but he feels that he still has gas in the tank and he will be able to be an asset on the court again. The qualifiers with the national team of Russia would be the platform where he will audition again in front of a global audience.
“I feel much much better compared to my first game after the break, in early April. We are now under a huge physical load in the national team, and I can see that my body handles this load, not any worse than my younger teammates,” he said.
With the major confidence boost and the newfound trust in his own body, Mozgov looks into the future wishing for one more EuroLeague chance. He has no contractual connection to Khimki anymore, he’s a free agent, and hopes that his recent stint in the VTB League, as well as the potential good run with the Russian national team, will earn him another chance at the elite level.
Mozgov himself admitted that the future is hard to predict at the moment but his wish is clear. He wants to play a few more seasons in strong competition with an important role.
“In the current COVID era, it’s impossible to expect something concrete. But what I really want is to play. And play a lot of minutes at a serious competition level. I really hope to play 3-4 more seasons at least, and my games in the VTB league at the end of this season told me that this is realistic.”
The 2016 NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers and two-time bronze winner with the national team at the Olympics and Eurobasket already has had a rich career. And being back on the court, ready to be a factor again, would be a fairytale-like last chapter that he deserves to have the chance to write.