Ukraine Right On Track Ahead Of U20 Women’s Event


Ukraine coach Iryna Nahorna is very pleased with the progress her side has made in the build-up to the U20 European Championship for Women.

Nahorna and Co have returned from Poland, the host nation for the U20 event, where they played Slovakia, Hungary and the Poles in a friendly tournament.

Ukraine lost to Poland 80-68 but defeated Slovakia 86-84 and Hungary 87-83.

Wins and losses in the preparation stages do not matter, Nahorna says.

"The game results were not a priority for us - we needed to check out all the girls in action, to see our offensive and defensive sets and to get some experience," Nahorna said.

"I am very happy with the way we played against Poland, despite the loss. They are a great team that plays quick-pace modern basketball with full-court pressure the whole time.

"They have 12 players of approximately the same level and I was very excited we were going to face them when I learned we would be taking part in this tournament.

"Last year we played against them in and they tore us apart. This time, the game was even up to the final minutes. We just got tired and allowed them to steal the win.

"This showed us our endurance is still not there but we are optimistic that we'll be able to get in shape before the start of European Championship."

Getting players fit,  and working on game strategy, are key aspects to the preparations.

"The game against Hungary," Nahorna said, "despite being relatively easy, went into two overtimes.

"We tried to practice tactical fouls at the end of regulation and everything would have ended then if we hadn't allowed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw as time was expiring.

"Olexandra Pristupa and Kateryna Rymarenko missed the game with injuries and several key players fouled out. We were fighting in the overtimes with basically our second string. I was happy to see the girls' desire to win and with how they performed under pressure. I am glad the games were close because that's when you can actually experiment in the most productive way."

 The U20 European Championship will be staged in Gdynia, Poland, from July 9-19.

"We will now relax for a day and then resume practicing for four days," Nahorna said. "We will, after that, head to Riga were we'll face Latvia in two scrimmages and will then take a bus straight to Poland from there."

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