De Forge Returns For Montenegro

6. Anna De Forge (Montenegro)
Anna De Forge takes back the naturalised position on the Montenegrin roster this summer

Veteran guard Anna De Forge will pull on the vest of Montenegro once again, two years after last playing for her adopted nation at their historical first major tournament appearance in Poland.

The experience of De Forge was vital in helping Montenegro take sixth spot at EuroBasket Women 2011, although she was subsequently replaced by Eshaya Murphy in the naturalised spot during qualifying last summer.

But, with Murphy no longer participating, the shooting guard spot will be handed back to the 37-year-old, who will re-join fellow veteran guard Jelena Skerovic in the backcourt, with the pair having played alongside each other last season at ZVVZ USK Prague.

De Forge will arrive later than the rest of the players at a training camp to be held in Zlatibor this week and speaking ahead of the gathering, head coach Miodrag Baletic admitted his team had some injury concerns.

The play-caller is sweating on the fitness of another USK Prague player in Jelena Dubljevic, who has missed chunks of the season with back problems.

But, despite a number of other worrying niggles to several of his players, he is committed to his team punching above their weight once again.

He said: "We have some injuries, but I believe tremendously in the character of players and in their desire.

"If you have 16 teams which are the best of the best, then there are no weak rivals.

"Our goal is to play well and to achieve a better result. We will try to do it, but it will be difficult.

"We come from a small country that has 650,000-700,000 inhabitants and a small number of registered players, and the fact is we are perhaps a phenomenon in Europe and even the world.

"With such a small number of players is is not easy to to be competitive with the big European teams."

After their exploits in recent years, it seems that managing expectation could also be a significant challenge, something which Skerovic was quick to point out when speaking alongside her coach.

"We will do our best as always, we will give 100 percent in every game, but expectations are great, so we need to go from game-to-game" said the point-guard.

"We have a large number of matches, a short period of time and each game is a different story.

"Passing to the second stage would be a huge success, because Eurobasket Women is a high level competition.

"It is important that we pass to the second stage and then anything is possible. You saw that two years ago when we were a real surprise."

Montenegro will play in Group A with Slovak Republic, Ukraine and Turkey.

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