Tornike Shengelia, after winning the ACB title with Baskonia, signed a lucrative deal with CSKA Moscow.
The Georgian star, since the start of the negotiations, asked CSKA president Andrey Vatutin to grant him permission to play for his National team, which will make him miss some EuroLeague games during the FIBA windows.
Here’s what Vatutin said:
“I heard that Tornike’s transition to CSKA is ambiguously perceived in Georgia, but in our activities, we are infinitely far from political motives, engaged in professional sports, are going to just play basketball, delight the audience and win. Nothing more“, said Vatutin.
“Let me highlight that from day one of the negotiations it was crucial for Toko to get permission to play for the NT, which we have now granted. I have great respect for Georgia, its history, we already had signed Giorgi Tsintsadze and Manuchar Markoishvili in the past, so we are waiting for all Toko compatriots at our games”, he added.
“First of all, I would like to thank all the people who supported me. I really hope that I can thank you personally!
I would like to emphasize the fact that I am not making this statement in order to justify myself to anyone.
It is difficult to explain something to a person when he does not want to hear anything and does not even think about changing his formed opinion.
I can’t explain to this person how I felt when I was 10-11 years old, and I stood with my eyes closed during the national anthem of the Georgian national team and imagined myself among the players on the court.
I can’t explain to this person what it means to me to watch the game of the Georgian national team on TV, what a terrible feeling it is when you are at the peak of your career, but you can’t help the national team and the country, because the third and fourth parties have decided so.
I can’t explain how much joy and happiness I experienced just a few days ago when I became the champion of Spain and that gave me the opportunity to raise the Georgian flag!
Going to one of the best teams in Europe will give me more chances to win, which will increase the likelihood of glorifying our flag.
I can’t explain the happiness when one of the best teams in Europe respects my patriotism and gives me the opportunity to come to every game of the national team in order to lead our country forward again and again.
I repeat. I, Tornike Shengelia, was, am, and will be the bearer of the Georgian spirit everywhere, until the very last moment, and no comments or statements can change this!
I will survive this trial humbly, because God is on my side. I am only responsible to him, and he knows who I am.”
This comes after the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, said that Toko’s move from Baskonia to CSKA Moscow was “unacceptable”, citing Georgia’s delicate political relationship with Russia.