German duo learning from the best
in Russian Superleague
Germany and Russia are two of the most powerful nations in
European sport and now two members of Germany’s Olympic
team are making their mark in the Russian Super League.
National team captain Bjorn Andrae and Gyorgy Grozer moved to
Russia following Germany’s run to the quarterfinals at the London
Olympic Games, where they lost to Bulgaria. Andrae joined
Siberian side Kemerovo, a city nearly 4,000km to the east of Moscow,
while Grozer headed to Belgorod, a city 570km south of Moscow,
close to the Ukranian border.
Kemerovo in itself is a very pleasant city with around 300,000
inhabitants, though the temperature falls to -55°C, something we’re
not used to in Berlin,” Andrae said. “What is more difficult to endure
is all the travelling. Since you’re away for at least 24 hours you start
to feel it in your bones, but I have my personal physio here and we
train well.”
In the beginning it was very difficult,” Grozer admitted. “Everything
is different and you have to get used to it, but if you do that, it is
quite normal.”
They have played each other twice this season during pool play,
with Grozer’s Belgorod winning both closely-fought contests 3-2.
Grozer top scored with 24 points and Andrae registered 17 in the
first encounter before both tallied 16 in the reverse match.
While Belgorod were hoping for an automatic quarterfinal spot by
finishing in the top two of the blue group, Kemerovo were confirmed
in sixth place of the same pool, sealing a spot in the playoffs for
the last eight and 31-year-old Andrae is certainly doing his best to
help his new side advance further with an average of 13.2 points per
match this season.
The season has been fairly normal for us,” he said. “Before the New
Year we had some bad results, but then we won four matches in a
row. Our main aim is to reach the play-offs and then get through to
the quarterfinals, otherwise we will be in the play-down and that is
no fun.”
Grozer, by contrast, has already tasted success with his new team
when they won the Russian Cup at the end of 2012 defeating Zenit
Kazan 3-1. Even so he still feels that he is yet to find his best form
with Belgorod.
I had a long summer with the national team and so far it has been
a little difficult to show my best form with my team,” he said, “but
we are starting to hit our stride and won the Russian Cup, something
I am very proud of. At the moment we are third in our group, which
could be better, but isn’t too bad. The play-offs will be a challenge
and our goal is to try and win the Russian Championship. Nothing is
I had a long summer with the
national team and so far it has
been a little difficult to show my
best form with my team