Lokomotiv’s Paunic talks life in Krasnodar, travel, finances, pressure on players

2022-03-31T19:57:03+00:00 2022-03-31T20:05:18+00:00.

Stefan Djordjevic

31/Mar/22 19:57

Eurohoops.net

Lokomotiv Kuban forward Ivna Paunic talked about living in Krasnodar near the Ukrainian border, traveling issues, as well as the financial situation

By Eurohoops team / info@eurohoops.net

A lot has happened since the start of the war in Ukraine and a storm hit the basketball world, especially so for the Russian clubs as they got ‘kicked out’ of the European competitions.

One of the players who, despite being against any kind of war, believe sports should be separated from politics is Lokomotiv Kuban’s Ivan Paunic. He spoke to the Serbian outlet Mozzart Sport about the whole situation and how his everyday sports life looks as continues to play for the team.

Aside from traveling, it’s pretty much business as usual in Russia.

“I have to say that nothing has changed too much in the city, life is the same, of course, everyone is talking about the sanctions that are present. However, Krasnodar is in a specific situation. Due to its proximity to Ukraine, more precisely to Mariupol, it drastically complicates things because we have to go by train first, mostly to Sochi, then maybe a bus, and only then a plane. It is very complicated to travel now,” Paunic explained and then spoke about the pressure the players felt that made them leave Russia.

“I know that there was a lot of pressure on European players who are in Russia. They threatened to take away their passports if they do not leave the clubs. I am also reading the case of Jerebko who signed for CSKA, the Swedes are already saying that he will not be able to play for the national team. As for the Americans, they received emails that it would be desirable for them to leave the country, the biggest problem for them was money because money transactions between Russia and America were banned due to sanctions. However, I know that they managed, now they are sending money through China, so that problem has been solved.”

With the rosters getting drastically changed due to players leaving Russia, Paunic thinks it actually helped Lokomotiv, as they now seem to play better as a team.

“Several Americans left us, and that seemed to open space for everyone to play more as a team. The ball is moving, we are playing good basketball. Our leader is Eric McCollham, who is playing really well. We beat Unics and for that, the boss treated us with a big bonus, he promised the same if we beat Zenit, so we have that motive.”

Speaking of bonuses, Paunic confirmed that the club had no financial issues except for a short period when the inflation started and rubles weren’t stable.

“The club was never late with payments, not even a day. However, when the conflict started, payments were 10 days late, but now it is regulated. The problem was actually inflation, the exchange rate was too unstable. When the situation with the exchange rate stabilized, salaries have started to arrive regularly as before. Lokomotiv is known for that, behind us is a serious sponsor, a state company – the Russian Railways.”