EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Zoi Dimitrakou is delighted with new Greece coach Alekos Daglas, whom she considers an ideal successor to Kostas Missas|
By Paul Nilsen
Zoi Dimitrakou has given her endorsement to new Greece play-caller Alekos Daglas as the team continues preparations for their pending EuroBasket Women 2013 qualification campaign.
Daglas replaced Kostas Missas earlier this year and unsurprisingly, it has taken the players a little time to get used to having a new face in the coaching hot-seat.
"At the start, it was definitely a little strange for everybody not to have Coach Missas in the practices," admitted Dimitrakou.
"During the last six years or so, he made the Greek team really competitive and a considerable team to the rest of Europe.
"He was not only a basketball coach but also a life teacher!"
"I think our new coach was the perfect choice to succeed Coach Missas," Dimitrakou says of Daglas.
"They have very similar philosophies and under coach Daglas, we have high expectations.
"Especially from our defence and then to our fast break."
TIME TO PUT THINGS RIGHT
Dimitrakou is eager to make amends for an unproductive time in Poland last summer when Greece was eliminated in the first round without a win to their name - something the small forward feels can be righted this time around.
"Last summer didn't bring the results we were expecting. We lost a game we shouldn't lose and essentially that's why we didn't progress," she recalls.
"But, one year later, I'm really confident about our team and I think we can qualify for EuroBasket Women next year.
"We have played against most of the teams in our group in the past," continued Dimitrakou.
"Definitely Latvia and Italy have showed that they are strong teams but we are as well.
"We will face all four teams with the same mentality and I think the results will be the ones we expect."
"We are really passionate about this qualification and as long as we show it on the court, I think we won't have any problems to qualify.
|After a dissapointing EuroBasket Women 2011 Dimitrakou and Greece want to put things right this summer and celebrate victories again|
She added: "Sadly we will really miss Styliani Kaltsidou both as a player and as a person in the team - we wish her a fast rehabilitation from injury."
Even with former EuroBasket Women MVP Evina Maltsi back on board, Greece will certainly have to come up with the goods offensively.
Their already limited offensive capabilities have been severely weakened by the loss of Kaltsidou and it is Dimitrakou herself who could potentially find an expanded role.
"Scoring was always a challenge for the Greek team," she admitted.
"And, even more now that a starter like Styliani is absent. But, I'm excited and ready to take more responsibilities to help the team achieve our goal."
SUMMER OF 2012, 2013 AND BEYOND
A concern that has been expressed in some quarters, and even directly by players such as Maltsi, has been the issue of whether there is enough young talent emerging for Greece.
However Dimitrakou isn't too concerned at this stage.
"I don't think this is an issue to worry about since there are seven players already in the team with experience that are going to play for this team for the next five years," she said.
"Next to these players starts the transition for the young players so they can be ready to play when the right time comes.
"We already have five players under the age of twenty in our team both practicing and playing."
Making it to France and participating in her fourth EuroBasket Women tournament would be a real delight for Dimitrakou since it has become a second home after agreeing to continue her club career in the French league with Bourges Basket, having finished last season with Charleville.
"It would be an extra special feeling for sure," smiled Dimitrakou.
"Playing with Charleville made me more experienced and helped me a lot in my game!
"But now I'm very excited about playing with Bourges next season since it's my goal every year to go one step ahead and so this is really a great opportunity for me!"