German Women 'Do Not Give Up', Italy Sky High

12 January 2009

Only a forgetful basketball fan would write off Germany's chances of finishing top of Group B in the EuroBasket Women Additional Qualifying Round following their gritty 68-60 over Bulgaria on Saturday.

In Division A last summer, Germany appeared to be headed for the Relegation Round but instead hit back from a 93-39 defeat in Ukraine to beat the Ukrainians in Berlin and then avenge an earlier defeat to Great Britain.

Germany and Ukraine wound up in the Additional Qualifying Round and the Brits fell into the relegation muck instead.

Ukraine and Germany are in the same group again, with the former thrashing the latter in Kiev last week.

But after prevailing over Bulgaria to improve to 1-1 and pull closer to Ukraine (2-0), Germany coach Imre Szittya warned: "We do not give up! We still have a chance to qualify.

"We won the game (against Bulgaria) because we made the important baskets. I'm very proud of my team because my players showed great team and fighting spirit."

Germany's best hope of pipping Ukraine to first place in Group A involves Bulgaria.

If the Bulgarians, who only lost 81-76 at home to Ukraine on January 4, can surprise Volodymyr Bryukhovetskiy's team in Kiev, Germany would take first place if they were to beat Ukraine next weekend in Saarlouis and then defeat Bulgaria in Rouse.

Alexandra Müller, who had 16 points for Germany, said: "We proved that our 26-point-loss in the Ukraine did not show our real abilities.

"Now we will see what is still possible in this qualification."

Italy Sky High After Thrashing Croatia

Italy coach Giampiero Ticchi paid a moving tribute to the fans who showed up to support the national team in their EuroBasket Women Additional Qualifying Round Clash in Venice on Saturday.

The Azzurre won the game 83-50, putting them in a very strong position in Group B at 2-0 ahead of Croatia (1-1) and Belgium (0-2).

"It's great to see so many fans in the stands," Ticchi said.

"If things on the court went well for us, it is also thanks to them. I have been touched by the atmosphere in Venice, at the end of the game I saw a little girl mad with joy after having been able to get an autograph from one of our players.

"With the right mentality and with the victories, we can make this national team the most loved and followed ever in our history."

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