The TalTech basketball team started the season with a new head coach and a renewed team
The first winds of change started blowing for the team in spring, when head coach Rait Käbin passed the torch on to Gert Kullamäe after four years of leading the team. The team has many new young players this year, who only just started their studies at the Tallinn University of Technology. ‘The players have decided to tie basketball to their studies and we try to work from there,’ said Gert Kullamäe. ‘Hopefully they will be successful in both fields,’ he added. Coaching a team of students is a new experience and an exciting challenge for Kullamäe. He has previously coached the teams of Tallinna Kalev/TLÜ and University of Tartu/Rock.
Although the summer was off-season for the team, they were not idle: in Portugal, they achieved 5th place in the European Universities 3×3 Basketball Championship; in Toronto, the Estonians won the Red Bull Reign 3×3 World Final; the team also took part in the 3×3 World Tour in Samara, Russia and made it to quarter-finals.
The team started a 20-day tour of China on 11 September. They will have a chance to play 8–10 friendly games with different CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) teams and the Cuban national team. Individual friendly games will be played against different CBA teams at the start of the tour, which will conclude with a tournament in the city of Lanzhou on 26–30 September.
‘This trip is only possible because the Chinese agreed to finance the entire tour. If an Estonian club has a chance like that, it must be taken,’ said Kullamäe. According to him, it is especially important for young players to broaden their horizons and create new contacts – why not at the university level as well.
Kullamäe pointed out that when it comes to talking about goals, he as the head coach never likes to set long-term objectives, but prefers to have the team grow and get to know each other better with each game.
First game back home will take place on 9 October, when the home game against Valmiera Glass/VIA is held in the Paf Latvian-Estonian Basketball League. ‘I would like to thank the Estonian Basketball Association, who agreed to our request to start the season a few days later than the others,’ said Kullamäe.
There are 14 players on the TalTech basketball team this year: point guards Norman Käbin and Eric Schmalz, shooting guards Sten Olmre and Sander Viilup, small forwards Gregor Arbet and Leemet Böckler, power forwards Joonas Järveläinen and Oliver Metsalu, big men Toomas Raadik and Levi Martin Giese, centers Karl-Kristjan Karpin and Rait Tammet, and young players Martin Otto Parve and Marek Ojamäe.