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MOSCOW (AP) — Former NBA player Andrei Kirilenko was elected president of the troubled Russian Basketball Federation on Tuesday.
The ex-Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets small forward, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA, was elected unopposed at a conference Tuesday in Moscow — hours after his only rival, Russian national team general manager Dmitry Domani, withdrew from the contest.
Kirilenko takes over an organization in crisis after it was suspended in July by international governing body FIBA following years of infighting and legal battles, which led to the result of the last federation elections being overturned.
The former NBA All-Star — who only retired from playing in June — ran as a unity candidate and reformer, telling delegates "you are all my team" and pledging to confront "the very deep crisis of trust" in Russian basketball.
The first task facing Kirilenko is to repair relations with FIBA, which has said it is keen to lift Russia's suspension once it sees evidence of reforms at the federation, and to help the Russian men's national team prepare for Olympic qualification at next month's European Championship.
Kirilenko won Olympic bronze with the national team in 2012, but it has struggled in recent months amid reports of tension between the players and federation officials, and recently lost by 34 points to Serbia.
"It's really important to spend time on preparation, so that there is the most positive possible atmosphere in the 10 days that are left until the European Championship," Kirilenko said. "We really don't want our players to have any problems with their preparation."
The Russian women's team has already failed to qualify for next year's Olympics.
In the longer term, Kirilenko said his priority as president would be to attract more youngsters to basketball, which Kirilenko said has been losing fans rapidly in Russia.
Kirilenko has brought a number of current and ex-players into senior federation roles, including ex-Portland Trail Blazers forward Viktor Khryapa, who still plays in Russia, plus former WNBA players Ilona Korstin and Svetlana Abrosimova.
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