EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Alina Iagupova and Ukraine bounced back from two consecutive defeats with two away wins in a row. Now they want to avenge that first painful loss by Israel |
Having manoeuvred their way into the thick of an absorbing race to qualify for EuroBasket Women, Ukraine and their head coach Vladim Czeczuro are ready to use revenge as the motivator to maintain their impressive run.
After successive road wins against Hungary and Portugal, Ukraine has catapulted itself into contention and are currently locked in second place in Group A with three wins and two losses and ready to chase down leaders Belarus.
One of those defeats came in only the second game of the campaign, when they crashed 73-58 in Israel and now, according to Czeczuro, it's time they made up for their worst loss of the tournament so far.
"We must prepare to take revenge on the Israel national team," the Ukraine coach said.
"The match in Israel was the worst for us in this tournament both in terms of defence and offence.
"Maybe after the big win in our first game against Portugal we got a little relaxed before the (second) game - even though I constantly stressed that we could not afford to relax.
"In front of us we have three more games, we will try to win in all of them, and complete the task set before us," added the play-caller.
Czeczuro certainly has good reason to be hopeful of making it to France after those back-to-back victories in Hungary and Portugal recently - two performances which defensively, in particular, left a sense of real satisfaction.
"We had a tough game in Hungary but our girls did well and survived until the end, playing with great discipline.
|Marina Kress of Belarus will in all certainty be sidelined for Wednesday's game with Portugal, but it could have been much worse |
"Unlike the previous two games, we had a good field goal percentage against Hungary.
"In addition to our impressive offensive game, we showed good defence too and got a very important victory and won a big fight for the team.
"In Portugal, our offence was slightly worse, but the defence was at the same level again and we gave up only 42 points!"
GOOD NEWS FOR KRESS, BELARUS
Elsewhere in Group A, Belarus has been boosted by the news that the influential Marina Kress has not sustained a fracture to her ankle.
Scans have revealed there is no serious damage and although still in pain, the player will miss the forthcoming game with Portugal but believes she has a slim chance of making the crunch game in Israel at the weekend.