The International Student Basketball League’s All-Star Game (Image from isbl-basket.com)(22.9Mb)embed videoEven though the International Student Basketball League was only established in Russia five months ago, its biggest talent have already been in the spotlight at their first All-Star Game.The International Student Basketball League was launched in October last year and, on Saturday, its best players showed off their skills in the first All-Star Game.“It’s a good performance;” Sergey Panov, former Russia and CSKA Moscow player, told RT. “The game of basketball is just starting to be popular with students. I think, this game has been organized very well. We’re going to improve within the next few seasons, get a bigger crowd and the level of the players will become even higher.”The inaugural season of the ISBL sees the pick of student basketball from across Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Estonia and Lithuania united in the same competition.It’s still a long way from catching up with North America’s NCAA March Madness, but is set to develop and expand in the future.The new league is supported by the Russian government, which has a lot of basketball lovers – and players, who took to the court in the intermission, alongside some of Russia’s great veterans, for an exhibition game.The show stealers were the 24 young guns representing the league’s East and West divisions.“I’ve never been a big basketball fan, but I feel great today,” pop singer Marka said. “Such spectacular action and so many handsome boys all around – I like it.”Despite being thought of as a show, the All-Star game was a tough match, with the East comfortably beating the West, 113 points to 85.“It’s difficult to become a real professional player,” Sergey Tarakanov, two-time Olympic champ in basketball, commented. “But all these players could be good for the Russian second division, or probably, even for top teams. They just need to practice a lot.”“I liked the show very much. This is a very good league. And I’m definitely going to become a professional player,” Stanislav Krainov, the All-Star Game’s MVP, added.So, with the first All-Star game now finished, the players’ focus turns to the play-offs, which get underway on March 10.It’ll be the first real test to see how far some of these players might go in their quest to turn from amateur to professional.
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