Paula, Portugal Bolster Defense To Top Group

08 September 2008

Portugal began their EuroBasket Women Division B campaign with a heavy home defeat to Sweden on August 27.

That game must have seemed as if it was played a long time ago after Paula Muxiri fired the Portuguese to a third successive win in Group B on Saturday.

Portugal improved to 3-1 with a 75-68 victory at FYR of Macedonia and Paula had a game-high 23 points and six rebounds against the previously unbeaten hosts.

"It is apparent that we have improved our defensive game, and we recognize that we made inexcusable mistakes on defense against Sweden," Paula said to Basketball World News, looking back at that 78-56 home thumping by the Swedes in Sao Paio de Gramacos.
"Our objective remains very clear for us, the players, which is to play in division A."

Carla Freitas scored 20 while Portugal teammate Joana Lopes had 10 rebounds to go with her six points.
For the home side, Elena Redenkovikj finished with 17 points while Monika Gavriloska also had 10 boards to go with her 13 points.

Saturday's game was played in an extremely warm arena in Skopje.

"It was very difficult game," Paula said, "mainly because of the high temperatures here. But we are happy and will fight to keep this form."

Paula, 27, has averaged 19.8 points to help Portugal top Group B. The former star of American college basketball team Old Dominion University said: "There is no secret to my performances. I normally play very focused and relaxed and try to do what my team expects from me, scoring points."

Portugal will resume their Division B campaign next year, starting with a game in Sweden.

"Overall, we've had a positive campaign," Paula said.

FYR of Macedonia will travel to Sweden on Wednesday, September 10 - the last game for those two sides this year.

Estonia will host Luxembourg in the other Group B clash.

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