Sokk Admits Estonia Need To Improve

28 July 2005

Estonia head coach Tiit Sokk admitted his team still has a lot of work to do after losing to Israel twice, 83-71 and 74-61, on Monday and Tuesday respectively. 

Sokk said his side's main weakness was in defence even though it was an area he had emphasised during training camp.

The biggest problem we have right now is a lack of experience
Tiit Sokk
He said: "We didn't give our best effort defensively but I'm hopeful we can improve on that.

"The biggest problem we have right now is a lack of experience. That's why playing against strong teams like Israel and Lithuania is good for us. It helps our development."

Point guard Valmo Kriisa pointed to what Israel did right - and what Estonia could look to improve.

"Israel were in control at all times in offense. They didn't rush their shots. But they were also also active on defence, and I think that is how we need to play - at both ends of the court," he said.

Sokk's assistant Ullar Kerde, who headed the team when Estonia qualified for the 2001 European Championship tournament, explained it was important to show the reality of professional basketball to the young players.

"These youngsters have been used to playing for nine months and resting for the other three. But these days, professional basketball is played all year round and there is no time to rest. Playing twelve months is the only way to improve."

Kerde admitted some of the young players had complained about the gruelling training regiment but had been issued a stern warning by Sokk.

Martin Müürsepp
Martin Muursepp
Kerde said: "Tiit told them 'if I was able do it, you can do it as well.' He has a lot of examples he can point out to from his long and successful career and these players can only listen and learn from him."

Estonian star and former NBA player Martin Muursepp did not play in the two games, giving young forward Kristjan Kangur a chance to lead the way and the 23-year-old came through the baptism of fire with a mixed review from his coach.

"Kristian took a leading role in the game, but he was not able to maintain it throughout," Sokk said. "There are some things he needs to work on, especially on the defensive end."

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