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The VTB United League introduced a social media hotline with Ilona Korstin at the beginning of the season featuring the hashtag #AskKorstin. Korstin is the current league deputy general director and a women's basketball legend. She loves chatting with anyone who loves the game and follows the VTB United League.

VTB-League.com has selected the most interesting questions, along with Ilona's answers, from the final two months of the 2014-15 season.

One fan will also receive an authentic game ball autographed by their favorite league player.



Lenar Khalikov was the lucky winner this month thanks to his interest in Ilona Korstin's stint in France as a professional basketball player. Here's Korstin's answer to that and other questions on the VTB United League's #AskKorstin hotline.

Valery Levkin: Why wasn't Khimki able to give CSKA more of a fight in the playoff finals?

– I don't think Khimki had enough time to recover from the semifinals against Lokomotiv-Kuban. Plus, injuries were a problem.

Konstantin Kucher: The semifinal series between Khimki and Lokomotiv was one of the best in league history. Which other matchups were memorable? Is there anything that could be done to make the postseason even more exciting? A best-of-seven series? Final Four?

– Like you said, the Loko – Khimki series was the highlight of the playoffs. The Zenit – Nizhny Novgorod battle in the quarterfinals was also very good and went five games. The Final Four is for the Euroleague. A best-of-seven series? Given the number of games and the European calendar, that's not likely at the moment.

Artur Stepanenko: In your opinion, which team in the league provides the most bang for the buck?

– Estonia's Kalev.

Dmitry Kolinov: Andrey Vorontsevich was the best Russian player in the league this season, the top defender and the playoff MVP. In other words, he reached a new level and became a leader at CSKA. What was the key to his progress? Do you think Vorontsevich could make an impact in the NBA?

– Andrey Vorontsevich took a big step forward this season. The first reason is the lack of injuries. Andrey has always been a terrific player, but various injuries prevented him from playing a season at full strength. The second reason was that he had the coach's trust and enough playing time. Plus, don't forget about the work he's put in and the increased amount of experience. I think Andrey has a great chance of not just signing with someone, but also making an impact in the NBA. I think he's already ready.

Alexander Ignatiev: Couldn't the VTB United League change its structure and divide teams into divisions and conferences? It would be interesting. And does the league have plans to expand? 16 teams doesn't seem like enough to me.

– If you recall, Alexander, we had 20 teams last season divided into two groups. We changed the competition format this season. 16 teams played each opponent twice. It worked out well. We had our best ever regular season and increased fan interest. We don't plan to increase the number of teams. 16 teams is the max amount for this format, given the busy calendar. But the league geography might expand.

Sergei Petrov: Ilona, would it be possible to have VTB United League games on Saturday evenings? That would make it possible for fans to support their teams on the road without having to take a day off work. After all, when the visiting team has a lot of fans, the home fans do an even better job supporting their team.

– A lot of teams play in other competitions: European cups, national leagues and domestic cups. For example, some of CSKA's Euroleague games are scheduled for Friday, which is why they simply aren't able to play on Saturday.

Lenar Khalikov: With the departure of the big Lithuanian clubs – Lieutovs Rytas and Zalgiris – the competition lost two very intriguing teams. Are there any plans for these clubs to return to the league? Is anything being done to make that happen?

– The Lithuanian clubs have a grueling domestic league schedule and simply don't have the time to also compete in the VTB United League. I do know, however, that Lietuvos Rytas, Neptunas and other Lithuanian clubs would be interested in playing in the VTB United League.

Andrei Marin: Don't you think that the name should be switched to the United Basketball League and not advertise VTB in the title? Also, will there be an All-Star Game next year?

– The VTB Bank is our title sponsor. Without them, there would be no league. An All-Star Game depends on the calendar, which we are currently working on. I hope that we can find an opening for the game.

David Sarkisov: What emotions and sensations did you have when you started playing basketball as well as in later years?

Nikita Demin: What feelings and emotions did you have after your first game as a professional?

– David, to begin with, basketball connected with me as a game during my first practice. My relationship to it changed over the years. Looking back, I have a lot to be thankful for. I had a long and successful professional career and I hope that my career as a manager will be just as exciting and successful!

I played my first professional game in St. Petersburg, when I was invited to play for Fors Mazhor. I was really nervous before the game and prepared carefully. I remember that when I took the court my throat was really dry, but then I quickly got comfortable. The nerves went away with experience, but the pleasure and adrenaline from basketball remained.

Lenar Khalikov: During your career you played for a lot of clubs, but I'm most interested in the first time you switched teams. Your mother married a Frenchman and you moved to France. How difficult was it to leave Russia? Did you have an opportunity to stay in Russia and continue practicing at home? How tall were you at that time and what kind of reception did you get in France? You had a pretty successful career in France, winning the league and Euroleague. Could you have enjoyed the same success in Russia at that point in your career? Do you regret not playing for the French national team? Please describe that stage in your career.

– Moving to France wasn't easy, but it was crucial for my future development as a professional. I started playing for St. Petersburg's Fors Mazhor when I was 16 and I only received 20% of my signed contract. There were a lot of problems in Russian basketball at the end of the 90s. All of the players and coaches were looking to go abroad. I didn't leave for money. Instead, I wanted to play for the best Russian coach at the time – Vadim Kapranov, who made a true professional out of me. Plus, Burzh was the strongest club in Europe at the time with the best European players and a solid professional structure. That's why I had ideal conditions for professional growth and development. As far as the national team goes, I never had any doubt. Russia is my homeland and I wanted to play for my country, even though there was an offer from the French side.

Nikita Sukhorukov: You've played for a lot of clubs in different countries. What was the most unforgettable experience you had?

– Every team that I played for was special. When it comes to sports, VBM-SGAU was my favorite team. That's where my career really bloomed. We had the backbone of the national team in Samara and we didn't lose. At Sparta Moscow Region, thanks to Shabtau Fon Kalmanovich, there was a real family atmosphere. I've never seen that anywhere else. I discovered a new culture in Turkey and my best team was probably in Salamanca. The fans lived and died with the team. They support the team and coaches even after tough losses. And it's incredible when you win! I remember how the whole city came out to the central square to meet and celebrate with us after winning the Spanish Cup. I was amazed. 

Nikita Demin: Ilona, please describe how you felt becoming an executive at such a big competition like the VTB United League immediately following the conclusion of your career? Do you feel like you have adapted completely to the job?

– The most difficult thing for me is working a desk job in an office. Thankfully, I don't have any paperwork at the VTB United League. I go on a lot of trips related to representing the league in various organizations, including the Euroleague and FIBA. Plus, I work as a commentator. I needed some time to adjust and understand how the league works. Now I'm completely immersed in the work and understand all of the nuances of how our club competition functions.

Ilona Korstin would love to hear from you via the league's social network pages (Vkontakte,FacebookInstagramTwitter). You can also ask a questions in any of these social networks by using the #AskKorstin hashtag!


Get connected and get in the game!