|30 May 2012|
EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Jelena Dubljevic and Montenegro were off to a fairy-tale start at their first ever EuroBasket Women, until their six-game winning streak snapped in the Quarter-Finals|
A day in the life of Montenegro coach Miodrag Baletic does not go by right now when he doesn't focus intently on 13 June.
That is when Montenegro, the team that played so well for much of its first ever EuroBasket Women, last year in Poland, will meet Serbia as they attempt to book a place in next year's Final Round in France.
"I'm sure we won't fail in our tactical preparations and we'll be ready to welcome the start of qualifications," Baletic said.
"The first game we play on the 13th of June against Serbia is very important, and we are aware that we have to go into the duel with great desire, but not in a way in which we lose concentration, which is essential to achieve a good result."
Montenegro will also play Poland, Switzerland and Estonia in the Qualification Round.
Had things not unraveled in the Quarter-Finals last year against Turkey, Montenegro would be preparing for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) right now.
They had a special team last year.
Playing with poise and hitting timely shots, Baletic got contributions from a host of unheralded players as they won every game they played before falling to Turkey.
Montenegro simply ran out of steam.
|Coach Baletic is aware that his team no longer has the element of surprise in its favour now that Montenegro have earned a reputation around Europe |
They ended up losing to Croatia in the battle for fifth place.
The Croatians not only reached the OQT but also gained automatic entry to EuroBasket Women 2013.
The defeat left Montenegro needing to go through EuroBasket Women Qualifying.
While coming up short last year was a huge disappointment, a recovery has taken place in the months that have followed.
Baletic and his players know that their stature in the game grew last summer.
Evidence, Baletic says, can be seen in the fact that Turkey have invited the Montenegrins to play in a warm-up event to June's OQT.
"For us, the big thing this year is we were invited to participate in the (friendly) tournament in Antalya, which is the best confirmation that we are working well and our results in the last four to five years have earned the respect of a great basketball nation such as Turkey," Baletic said on the Montenegrin Basketball Federation website.