By Cindy Garcia-Bennett
Russia may have started on the wrong foot at the U20 European Championship for Women in Sofia but none of their forthcoming opponents will be taking them lightly.
A 72-68 defeat to Spain in the opening Group A game was not what the defending champions had hoped for to start the competition.
Russian forward Valeriya Musina believes the setback will only make the team stronger.
||I think we will see Spain again further in the tournament and we will beat them.
"The first game didn't go well for us," she said.
"It was a good game to play, against a good team and it was a good experience to start off with.
"Because it was our first game, perhaps we didn't pay the necessary attention to our coach.
"It's clear that we need to be more focused."
Russia will take on Greece on Saturday looking to make things right.
"After this game, maybe teams will be thinking oh well, Russia aren't that strong after all," said Musina.
"But we will show them we are not the team that lost to Spain."
Russia also lost to Spain in the group stages in last year's tournament in Sopron but avenged that defeat by knocking the Spanish out of title contention in the semi-final stages.
"I think we will see Spain again further in the tournament and we will beat them," Musina predicted.
This is Musina's first U20 European Championship, but having played in other youth competitions for Russia, she knows what is expected.
"This is my fourth European youth championship," said Musina, who will begin her senior year at California State at Long Beach after the summer.
"I study in the United States but in the summer, I play for the national team.
"Two years ago, I played for U18 team and we won the European Championship. It was an exciting time.
"I have experience to be a winner and I hope the championship will be good for us.
"As always with Russia, there is a lot of expectation and pressure to suceed," said Musina.
"We started preparations for this tournament on May 15 and I believe we are ready.
"Everyone expects us to reach the last four and that is our aim."