2009-10 Team Profile: BC Azovmash Mariupol

Jul 20, 2009 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Azovmash MariupolBC Azovmash Mariupol is the dominant force in Ukrainian basketball, winning six of the last seven domestic league titles, and it will be ready for a shot at the Eurocup title this season, too. Azovmash has risen simultaneously at home and abroad, winning its first domestic and continental trophies within a season of each other early this decade and remaining a threat for more success ever since. Although there has been no time like now for Azovmash, basketball has deep roots in Mariupol, where teams participated in regional Soviet Union leagues in from the 1950s through 1980s. A professional team was created in 1990, and when Ukraine became an independent country, Azovmash worked its way up from the third to first division by 1999. Azovmash soon found success there, too, by winning the 2002 Ukrainian League title. What came next was even more surprising: the team shocked everyone by lifting the 2003 FIBA Europe Challenge Cup trophy with players like Andriy Botichev, Volodymyr Gurtovyy and Oleksandar Skutyelnik. Azovmash added another Ukranian League title in 2004 and, following the arrival of playmaker Khalid El-Amin, lifted the domestic trophy again in 2006 and 2007. In the second of those seasons, with players like Kenan Bajramovic, Panagiotis Liadelis, Serhiy Lishchuk and Robert Gulyas teaming up with El-Amin, Azovmash reached the FIBA EuroCup final four, defeating Virtus Bologna by a point the semis before falling to Akasvayu Girona in the title game. Last season saw a new challenge in the form of the Eurocup and Azovmash did not disappoint, reaching the elimination rounds. Back home, its dominance increased with Ukrainian League and Cup titles, Azovmash's second trophy double in just three years. Last season, Azovmash was one win away from making it to the Final Eight despite overcoming injuries and severe financial troubles. Back home, Azovmash lifted the Ukrainian League and Cup titles, showing that their dynasty is still intact. Azovmash faces a new challenge with the Eurocup this 2009-10 season.