Club profile: Nizhny Novgorod

Jul 01, 2014 by Print
Nizhny Novgorod celebrates - EC13 (photo Nizhny Novgorod)
Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod comes off an outstanding season, in which it competed at the highest level in all competitions. Nizhny, which has been under the tutelage of head coach Zoran Lukic since 2009, put together a versatile team last season led by Semen Antonov, Dijon Thompson and Vadim Panin, who were joined by Taylor Rochestie later in the campaign. Nizhny shined in its Eurocup debut, winning its regular season and Last 32 groups to get to the elimination rounds. Despite twice losing the first leg, Nizhny rallied at home to defeat Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul and Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem and earn a spot in the semifinals. Valencia Basket stood in its final to the title series, but in spite of that setback, Nizhny kept going. The club knocked off Khimki Moscow Region and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius to storm into the VTB League finals, which also allowed Nizhny to make its Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut this season. Nizhny lost against CSKA Moscow, but laid the foundation for a promising future. Founded in 2000 by acquiring the rights from Volzhsky Engineer-Pedagogical Institute, the club started to compete in the Russian third division (Higher League). Its founder was Alexander Khairetdinov, arguably the most important figure in club history. He was the club's general director, head coach and team doctor. After starting in lower categories, the club started its rise in Russian basketball and managed to reach the second division and from 2006 to 2009 the team finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively in that level. In October of 2008, significant changes took place at the club, with former Olympic gold medalist Dmitri Svatkovskiy coming aboard as its president. A new general manager, former Euroleague winner Sergey Panov, built a team coached by Lukic and at the start of the 2009-10 season, Nizhny started bringing in young talent like Alexander Pushkin, Ivan Shamov and Andrew Raven to build a competitive project. In May of 2010, Nizhny won the Russian second division and earned the right to play in the first division the following fall. In 2010-11, it became a founding member of the PBL League and also took part in the FIBA EuroChallenge, though the group stage proved not to be successful for such an inexperienced team at this level. Nizhny also reached the Final Four of the Russian Cup that season for the first time ever, but fell to Spartak St. Petersburg in the final. A fifth place finish in its Russian League debut paved the way for Lukic to win the Coach of the Year award in Russia. In 2011-12, there was a bump in the road as the team failed to reach the league playoffs and finished ninth, but was back in full swing for 2012-13 and improving its performance - reaching the VTB League quarterfinals to earn a Eurocup spot and finishing eighth in the Russian League. Nizhny is a young team, which never stops looking up, and a good performance in its Euroleague debut will only make the team stronger and more ambitious.
Eurocup: Semifinalist
VTB United League: Finalist