Tsai, Ukraine Hope They're Ready For Liepaja

14 July 2010

Ukraine are causing a stir at the U20 European Championship in Croatia with their latest victory coming against Serbia on Tuesday night.

The country is also hoping to make an impact at the U20 European Championship for Women in Liepaja, Latvia.

Ukraine coach Leonid Tsai said: "Our team is pretty well prepared and we're hoping to demonstrate a good result. We have a pretty difficult group.

"We play Russia on day one.

"They are tough with a lot of tall players.

"On day two we face Sweden, who finished third at the (U18) European Championship last year. And the last game will be against the hosts, Latvia.

"We worked very productively during the last camp and most of the girls are now in good shape.

"If they demonstrate what we've learned and get a little lucky, we should do well.

"Unfortunately we didn't manage to play any friendly games with the exception of a small tournament in Belarus, which most of our top players missed."

Ukraine start their campaign at 6:30pm local time on Thursday.

The name Olesia Malashenko could loom large for the Ukrainians.

The 1.88m forward was a start at last year's U18 European Championship in Sweden, averaging 18.7 points and 13.8 rebounds.

"The key to our success is going to be a combination of teamwork and individual talent," Tsai said.

"It's not a secret we have one of the top young prospects in Europe in Olesia Malashenko, but we are not going to solely depend on her.

"Basketball is a team game. We devoted a lot of time to team work, but like I said, have not had a chance to see if what we practiced actually works in real games.

"The number one task we have is to proceed to the next round and avoid fighting for survival in Division A.

"After that, we'll see what happens. Some of the girls have micro injuries but for the most part, we are pretty healthy and ready to start the championship."

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