Team head coach Gert Kullamäe told us about this year’s line-up, compared it to the roster that took bronze last year, his expectations for the team and, last but not least, the possible outcome of the BBL season. Marek Doronin, who’s played his whole career for TU/Rock, also added some insight about Tartu fans and his ambitions for the season.
Aggressive defensively, team-oriented offensively and a good team-spirit – a combination that can prove any goal to be surmountable. And this is the combination Gert Kullamäe envisions his team playing with.
After finishing last season without a true center, adding a presence inside the paint was a priority for the club: “This season one of the goals, when making the team, was to get a big guy under the basket and hopefully Petrukonis will prove us right.”
Another important change comes at the point guard position, where Tanel Sokk from Kalev/Cramo will now be taking the reins. Without doubt, both the younger players and the team as a whole will benefit from his experience playing for the national team and matching up against top-tier international teams.
Despite the fact that the signing of players came in only at the beginning of September, Kullamäe was happy with the roster he is now handling. “Considering the situation in Estonian sports right now, I am happy with the way the team has been put together – we have good players in all positions, we have young guys and we have experience, we have players with different skill sets.”
The coach acknowledged the fact that it is impossible to predict the BBL winners before the season. “When Zalgiris, Lietuvos Rytas, VEF Riga and Klaipeda do not play, all the teams left are very evenly matched. There are a lot of strong teams and the games will show who will play for the top spots in spring.”
However, that does not deter from aiming for the highest goals. Last year TU/Rock played well in both international tournaments – they earned bronze medals in BBL and were just short of the Final Four in EuroChallenge. Coach admitted that the club is certainly not looking to let up this season. The core of the team is very much intact and the club has made some noteworthy improvements over the offseason so TU/Rock will certainly not be setting the bar lower. Just like every year, the goal is to win both the national championship and the Estonian cup and build on previous performances on the international level.
Marek Doronin was also cautiously optimistic about the possibilities of the team. “This season we have to clear last year’s fumbles. We had a good season, but many desired goals were left unfulfilled in the end. We had some problems with injuries before important games, but if we manage to stay healthy, this season can surely end with a better place in all the leagues we play. But these are all just wishes and expectations - first we have to show ourselves as a real team on the court.”
Doronin was explicit that the club has the best support in the league and that fans play a key role in the team’s success. He is certain that as a team, TU/Rock will offer exciting games and will have plenty of fight in every single one of them.
It’s only a matter of time until we find out whether or not all the hopes and expectations become reality but an early glimpse of it all is already planned – the Olybet BBL Cup takes place in Liepaja this weekend, where TU/Rock will face Siauliai and either Liepaja/Triobet or Ventspils.