Artur Drozdov, Budivelnik Kiev

Feb 11, 2013 by Javier Gancedo, Print
Artur Drozdov, Budivelnik Kiev
Artur Drozdov - BC BudivelnikBy winning six of its last seven games, Budivelnik managed to finish first in its regular season group and is now in a great position to battle for a Eurocup Quarterfinals spot. Indeed, Budivelnik needs just one more victory to qualify and could even seal first place this week, in Last 16 Game 5. In a roster full of young, talented players, small forward Artur Drozdov is a key piece for head coach Ainars Bagatskis due to his experience, desire, intensity and character. Drozdov leads his team in performance index ranking, with 15.7 per game. He is also averaging 10.3 points on 61.8% two-point and 81.8% free-throw shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a team-best 1.6 steals. Two weeks ago, his outstanding performance of 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and a 26 index rating allowed Budivelnik to grab a pivotal road win against KK Buducnost Voli Podgorica in Montenegro. Although that victory put his team atop Last 16 Group I with a 3-1 record, Budivelnik is far from being done, as Drozdov told us in this interview. "We are still hungry and I am sure that our Eurocup run is very important not only for our fans but also for each member of our team," Drozdov told "We are not going to stop!"

Hello, Artur. Budivelnik won six of its last seven Eurocup games and leads its Last 16 group. How difficult has this phase been for your team until now?

"All Eurocup games have been hard for us until now. There are no weak teams in this tournament, not even in the regular season. We have fought for every game in the Last 16 and did the best we could. That has given us an excellente chance to make it to the quarterfinals."

Budivelnik has won twice by narrow margins on the road, against Buducnost and Triumph. What has made Budivelnik play so well in close games lately?

"Well, I can tell you that we played against two very seriou teams in these games. I believe that this ability to get wins in a close finish means a lot. It is one of our advantages as a team. Of course, we would like to get more comfortable wins but that's what our opponents want, too. A win is a win - and now we are leading our Last 16 group!"

Your next game is against Banvit BK in Bandirma. You will qualify with one more win. What do you have to do to beat Banvit?

"We will fight, as always! I think it will be a very tough game because they really need to win. It is always very hard to play in Turkey, for all teams. In our first game against Banvit, we saw that we can beat this team and now we know their strengths and weaknesses. I think that we should be interested primarily on our game. We will fight and will play hard on defense. If we do that, I believe that we will succeed!"

You rebound really well for a small forward and have always done that really well in your career. What makes you a good rebounder?

"Honestly, I dont know. I think that this is a set of many factors. However, I am sure that if you want to be successful in all basketball aspects, especially when it comes to rebounds, the main and most important thing is desire! First of all desire in practice, and then playing with maximum energy in the game."

How do you remember your years playing in the Euroleague with Pau-Orthez of France?

"It was a great time, really. I was young and everything was very impressive for me. The Euroleague is the highest level in European basketball, it’s a chance to play against really legendary teams and players! I was happy to play for Pau-Orthez, it was agreat experience and I have great memories."

You played in BC Kyiv for three years and this is your second season with Budivelnik. How do you like to live in Kiev and be part of this team?

“It is good. Kiev is very comfortable for me, personally. I am proud that our team selected me to be our captain. We have obtained very good results, and not only in the Eurocup, as we lead the Ukrainian League, too. I sincerely believe that this is not the end of our adventure!"

Artur Drozdov - BC BudivelnikYour first Eurocup season came five years ago. How has the competition improved over the years?

"I believe that the Eurocup playing level is growing every year. The competition is changing, but the changes are beneficial. Now, especially at the Last 16 stage, some teams, in my opinion, are quite capable of playing in the Euroleague Top 16. There are many strong teams, especially from Spain and Russia. Like I said, the competition is growing."

Looking around at other groups, which teams do you consider as the strongest candidates to win the Eurocup? Why?

"Although I know the rosters of many Eurocup teams, I haven’t watched enough games to talk about this in detail and with authority. However, I don’t think that my list of contenders will be very different from what most people think: Valencia, Spartak, Bilbao, Lokomotiv and Galatasaray, all teams with very deep rosters. They are the most obvious candidates to win the competition."

Budivelnik made it to the quarterfinals in 2011. Knowing that you lead Group I now, what would you consider a good result for your team?

"I think it has been a totally honorable run for our team, but as I said earlier, I hope we will improve our game and get more impressive results! We are still hungry and I am sure that our Eurocup run is very important not only for our fans but also for each member of our team. We are not going to stop!"

What would it mean for his country, Ukraine, to win the Eurocup and get a team in the Euroleague?

"I don't want to talk about our chances to win the tournament. We are still not done our Last 16 group, so it’s early to even talk about it. It is only a dream right now! If we want to make our dream come true, we must continue to work hard. However, dreaming is good, and if we succeed, I am sure it will be a great win for Kiev, our basketball and the whole country!"