Karnay, Slovakia Ready For Israel


Slovakia coach Vladimir Karnay has warned his players not to underestimate Israel when the two sides meet on Wednesday in the additional qualifying tournament for the EuroBasket Women.

Both national teams struggled through the initial qualifying round and looked prime candidates for relegation, but in the additional qualifying tournament, the fortunes of each changed.

Slovakia swept both Ukraine and Sweden to top Group C, while in Group B Israel, Bulgaria and Hungary each finished with two wins and defeats.

The Israelis finished first in the pool on a tie-breaker.

"I was not surprised by the participation of Israel in the final part of additional qualification," Karnay said.

Poland, who won the EuroBasket eight years ago and have played in each tournament since, are the favourites to win the second phase and travel to Italy.

"I do not think Israel will be easier opponents than Poland," Karnay insisted.

"We have to concentrate for the first game now.

"I have only one target in front of me - to see Slovakia in the European Championship."

Both Slovakia and Israel reached the EuroBasket four years ago in Patras, Greece, but each failed to qualify for Turkey in 2005.

Slovakia veteran Zuzana Zirkova, a star with EuroLeague Women powerhouse Gambrinus Sika Brno, said: "I hope we will play in the European Champions.

"We have a  team which has a  big chance to advance, that is for sure."

Slovakia squad: Ivana Jalcova, Bronislava Borovickova, Zuzana Zirkova, Michaela Ivanova, Andrea Oravcova, Lucia Kupcikova, Anna Jurcenkova, Lucia Laskova, Martina Luptakova, Alena Kovacova, Regina Palusna, Luisa Michulkova.

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