|10 July 2008|
The moment of truth is about to arrive for Ukraine at the U20 European Championship for Women in Italy.
Iryna Nahorna's team will take on Lithuania, Bulgaria and Russia in Sulmona with the tournament tipping off on July 11.
How did the preparations go?
Coach Nahorna reflected on the past several weeks.
"We took part in two tournaments in Poland and Belarus as part of our preparation for the U20 European Championship," she said.
"The games in Poland turned out to be very difficult. We had played against our (Ukraine senior) national team prior to that and looked much better then due to individual skills, and because our opponents didn't treat the games too seriously.
"Everything was much different in Poland as we got crushed by the hosts by nine, 11 and 20 points in the three games we played against them."
Remarkably, Poland are not even in Division A with Ukraine, but in Division B.
"Poland are a super fast team," Nahorna said.
"They have great chemistry because they all play on the same team in the domestic league and they had also played almost 20 games internationally prior to facing us.
"Unfortunately our main point guard Arina Lisyuk sustained an injury in the beginning of just our second game and missed the rest. She is still not completely ready but will travel with us to Italy."
Ukraine have tasted victory in the build-up to Italy.
"We did manage to beat Czech Republic by 14 with Lisyuk, but lost by six without her," Nahorna said.
"We moved to Minsk after that and the games there made me feel much better.
"Although I believe that you only have to win the most important game and that only our successful performance in Italy should satisfy me, I was pleased to see a much better execution and teamwork in a three-point loss and a 13-point win over the Belarus squad.
"We spent the last three days correcting our mistakes, adjusting tactical schemes. I just hope we don't have any more injuries."