Portugal The Man, Portugal The Team

09.08.2006

By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport

Portugal coach Carlos Portugal knows he does not have the best team on the continent.

That is obvious, with the side in EuroBasket Women Division B.

But he is optimistic about this summer. He firmly believes his players have a chance of finishing in the top two of Group B and possibly winning promotion to Division A.

"The first two places in the group are our main goal in this qualifying round," he told PA Sport.

"We have as much talent as any of our opponents."

Portugal are in the same pool as Estonia, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Estonia.

Carlos Portugal, who took over the reins from Jose Leite last April, is training a 16-strong squad for his side`s opening game in September, when they host Luxembourg.

Later in August the South European team will travel to Dublin to face the Ireland for two warm-up games.

Carlos Portugal is hoping his experienced players can help his squad through.

He said: "Nowadays most of the teams have got one or two players with WNBA experience.

"For example, we have Ticha Penicheiro and Mery Andrade, so we aren't that bad."

However, Ticha Penicheiro is unsure whether she will be available.

Carlos Portugal said: " She [Ticha Penicheiro] is a worthy player for any team in world.

"Her performances with Sacramento Monarchs speak for themselves. She is selected and we would like to have her here with us, but during the qualifying rounds she might be performing in the WNBA.

"I always believed this group of players are progressively getting closer to the European standard than before."

And in contrast to the men's team, who have a policy of naturalising foreign players, Carlos Portugal sees a different scenario.

He said: "At the moment, we need to develop the national players` talent, and then we can think to naturalise some foreign players. They are good players.

"We have the same quality level as our opponents, although I don't know much about Bosnia-Herzegovina and Estonia."

Squad: Sonia Soares, Susan Foreid (both Santarem Basket), Gilda Correia, Fatima Freitas, Ana Sousa, Sara Felipe, Debora Escorcio, Joana Lopes (all CAB), Vera Correia, Susana Soares (both ESSA), Joana Fogaca, Ana Pina (both Alges), Ticha Penicheiro (Sacramento Monarchs), Paula Muxiri (Old Dominion University), Mery Andrade (Phardi Napoli), Sofia Ramalho (Universitario de Ferrol).


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