By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Khimki Moscow coach Rimas Kurtinaitis talked about the decision of VTB League to cancel the season without validating the final standings, where Khimki was at the top. Kurtinaitis believes that if defending champion CSKA Moscow was the standings leader when the league was canceled, then VTB would act differently, crediting each team with its position at the table.
Here’s what Kurtinaitis said on the cancelation of VTB League in an interview with Lithuanian website 15min.lt:
“We couldn’t play, we waited until the last [moment]. The VTB League was probably one of the last [leagues] to completely shut down the season. I think the world doesn’t need sports now. You have to watch how you survive. A suspended championship isn’t good but it was a must-do. We always want to finish the season and this year we had a good team and had ambitions. When the season was stopped, I read in the newspaper that nothing that happened in the season now counts. This [the non-validation of the standings] was a bad decision. You can’t exclude people from injuries, illnesses or leg fractures. Jeremy Evans (Khimki forward) didn’t finish the season because he broke his leg and someone tells him that this doesn’t count? We know how decisions are taken in Russia. Khimki was the only club that opposed the decision to not validated the standings.”
Khimki forward Janis Timma had mentioned that “you can’t throw out a season like that,” while commenting on the cancelation of the 2019-2020 VTB. Khimki was 19-1 while CSKA had a 15 – 4 record.
We all know that if CSKA doesn’t become the champion in Russia, it’s tantamount to disaster,” Kurtinaitis said. CSKA had won all VTB titles except 2011, when the championship was claimed by Khimki, with Kurtinaitis at the helm. “We once had a disaster for them. We were getting ready this year as well. The set and style of play could’ve allowed us to do that. I was hoping, we had the potential to fight CSKA. I never try to look forward but we certainly had ambitions. Nine foreign players can’t play in VTB, as it can happen in EuroLeague. You must have Russian basketball players. Our situation in the VTB League was better than CSKA because of this. We also proved it in the only VTB game we won without any doubts (96 – 80). Of course, Unics Kazan, Lokomotiv Kuban, Zenit St. Petersburg also played in the league. Teams are that are also contenders for the title. They must be respected. But VTB made that decision. I have no doubt that if CSKA had taken the lead in the championship, the standings would’ve been validated. I don’t even doubt it. The whole league depends on how CSKA plays. Schedules and calendars are arranged in a way that is convenient for them. I read an interview by Andrey Vatutin (CSKA president) saying that Khimki wants to be the champion on paper. We don’t want to. We don’t need titles like that. We are capable of fighting with them, we were committed to.”
CSKA was crowned 2019 champion after sweeping Khimki 3-0 in the Finals.
“The decision-making method was funnier even than political elections,” Kurtinaitis said. “There was only one question raised without any other alternatives. Stop the championship and disregard the current results? There were no other options. It’s known that the clubs chose this option because the championship had to be terminated. We were the one ones who voted “no” because we didn’t like this option. But our voice meant nothing.”