http://www.fiba.basketball – KURSK (EuroLeague Women) – With two seasons behind her at Dynamo Kursk and a EuroLeague Women winners medal now in her locker, it’s go-time again for fan favorite Kseniia Levchenko.
As Kursk get ready to defend their cherished crown which they won for the first time earlier this year, the energetic guard must get to work this season in translating all of her promise at youth level into becoming a mature and trusted playmaker.
Even if court time will be hard to come by, there is little doubt that with hard work and application, minutes are always on offer from head coach Lucas Mondelo as Levchenko tries to add to her already established assets of speed, flair and her expressive personality.
They are all traits which have already established her as someone that the home supporters are hugely supportive of, and the respect is mutual.
“Yes, the Kursk fans are like the sixth player on the court and they are irreplaceable,” agreed the playmaker as she reflected on the love she has been shown by the locals in her first two seasons with the club.
“Motivation is a good thing and you can motivate yourself in different ways but the fans are one of those reasons.”
Levchenko has been working hard in pre-season, with Kursk having spent considerable time at a camp in Sochi to get themselves ready for the new campaign.
Even though the Russian ace celebrated lifting EuroLeague Women on the floor of arch rivals Ekaterinburg back in April, there was double disappointment afterwards. Firstly, UMMC extracted revenge with a thrilling and highly dramatic game five success in the Russian Premier League Finals.
“It still hurts to have lost by only one point,” conceded Levchenko.
“It is more insulting that it also happened at home, but at least the victory in EuroLeague Women will be remembered for life and everyone will have memories of that Final in 20 years.”
There was of course one further high-profile setback which followed the end of the domestic season and that was Russia crashing out of FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 early, when they had been tipped to possibly hit the podium steps.
At least that means the Russian players had a lighter work schedule in the summer – with the Governor’s Cup now only a week away and the disappointment of Prague consigned to history.
“[After the Russia results] at least I could rest a little more,” said Levchenko.
“I have started back [in practice and preparation] in a good mood and I am cheerful.
“Now we are laying the foundations which should help us to maintain our strength for the whole season. We are paying attention to both our health and technology as everything is necessary for progress here if we want to stay the best team in Europe.”
Another thing that will help Kursk is if Levchenko can take that necessary upward step in the coming months. It is something that at 21-years-old she probably now needs to do – even if there is recognition within the sport that learning your trade at the all-important point guard spot can require more patience and time.