Mr Ivanov gave the players balls marked with the words “Far East Leopards.” Mr Ivanov, who oversees a project to preserve the Far East leopard, said that the leopard skin colours chosen to decorate the balls reflect the qualities that leopards and basketball players share: quick reactions, agility and flexibility. The championship winners also got tickets to the Euroleague ULEB Final Four in Milan in May.
Before the match began, Mr Ivanov spoke with journalists and met with another Sergei Ivanov, a St Petersburg resident who was affected by the US-imposed sanctions against the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Answering journalists’ questions, Mr Ivanov said that Russia will have a chance of winning Olympic gold in basketball only if it develops the sport on a mass scale among the public.
Mr Ivanov also watched the Match of Stars, dedicated to the memory of famed Soviet basketball player and Olympic champion Sergei Belov, who was honorary president of the School Basketball League. Olympic medallists, politicians and businessmen took part in the match.