Fesenko leaves national team
Jazz » Utah center is said to have left the Ukraine's squad because of limited playing time.
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Following his benching in a game last week, Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko has left the Ukrainian national team before the conclusion of relegation-round play in the European championships.

Although he committed to playing for the national team instead of taking part in summer league with the Jazz, Fesenko did not see action Friday against Hungary and did not travel to Estonia for a game Monday.

Russ Ridge, whose family helps care for the 22-year-old center in Utah, has spoken with Fesenko and said Monday that he was not injured, despite a story on the federation's Web site that suggested otherwise.

According to Ridge, Fesenko asked for and was given back his passport by federation officials after Friday's game. Along with Minnesota center Oleksiy Pecherov, Fesenko was one of only two NBA players on Ukraine's roster.

Before leaving for the off-season, Fesenko talked about the criticism he'd faced in his home country for skipping national team duty the previous two years to play in summer league with the Jazz.

However, Fesenko's playing time decreased so quickly in Ukraine that he saw just nine minutes of action in last Tuesday's loss to the Czech Republic. Three days later, he didn't play at all against Hungary.

Fesenko was said to have felt betrayed by the benching, which occurred at a home game in the country's capital and could have been related to a dispute with his former club team stemming from the contract he signed with the Jazz in 2007.

Neither Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor nor Fesenko's agent, Stu Lash, returned messages Monday. Having left the Ukrainian team, Fesenko is hoping to return to Utah before the end of the month to work out in advance of training camp, Ridge said.

The Jazz exercised an $870,000 option in June to bring back Fesenko for the upcoming season. Fesenko averaged 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 21 games last season.

rsiler@sltrib.com

Ukraine blues

Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko left the Ukrainian national team with two games remaining in relegation-round play at the European championships. A look at Fesenko's first four games with Ukraine, culminating in his benching Friday.

DateOpponentMin.Pts.Rebs.
Aug. 5Hungary23137
Aug. 8Estonia2576
Aug. 11Czech Republic921
FridayHungary DNP