Russia-based Sport Express and FIBA are this morning reporting what many have suspected all along what was inevitable: That Andrei Kirilenko is to retire from international play. Kirilenko explained that he’d already recently discussed the possibility with Russian Basketball Federation president Alexander Krasnenkov and that he “didn’t want to keep everyone in suspense for long.”
Citing common concerns among international players about fatigue and personal life, Kirilenko told Sport Express that “I’m not ready to spend most of the summer with the team and not with the family.” He hopes that the fortunes of Team Russia remain high and that he wishes to “transfer the authority and responsibility to” the younger generation of national teamers.
In 12 years beginning in 2000, Kirilenko had nine turns with Team Russia in international competition, ultimately collecting three medals: Bronzes from Eurobasket 2011 and the 2012 Olympic Games plus that memorable gold taken at Eurobasket 2007 with the huge upset of Team Spain. And his play in the ’12 Games combined with his 2011-12 season with CSKA Moscow earned him FIBA Europe Player of the Year honors.
Yes, BallinEurope knew it was likely inevitable that ol’ AK-47 would soon be bowing out from the international stage … but still he will be missed.