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Olympic Dream Motivates Ukraine Boss

11 August 2003

Ukraine coach Gennadi Zashyk will have the bigger picture in mind when he leads his side into the European Championships next month.

Because for those teams that excel in Sweden a place in next year's Olympic Games beckons, and Zashyk is determined to see his side book their ticket to Athens.

Serbia & Montenegro, as world champions, and Greece, as hosts, are already sure of their Olympic spots but there are an extra three European places still up for grabs at Eurobasket 2003.

"The Ukrainian team intend to fight for a pass to the Olympic games," Zashyk told Komanda newspaper.

The former Soviet Republic have decided to prepare for the tournament in Israel where they are hoping to iron out any problems ahead of the big tip-off against Turkey on September 5.

"We need to increase the functional conditions of our players, to reach better quality in their positioning and defensive play," Zashyk explained.

"We are staking our game on aggressive action in defence."

Zashyk believes he is hindered by the fact his players are all at different levels of physical fitness. As well as having several players on the treatment table, Olexander Lokhmanchuk has joined up with the team on only a limited number of occasions, and NBA player Stanislav Medvedenko - who will join up with the squad on August 15 - has an individual training plan.

"I am glad to see the recovery of Artur Drozdov, Olexander Okunsky, Grigoriy Khizhnyak and Leonid Yailo," Zashyk added.

"Also we decided to include in the team Serhiy Moskalenko. He deserves to be in the squad because he compensates for his problems in individual skills with good warrior skills."

At the end of August the team plan to visit Spain, where they will take part in two tournaments, facing Lithuania, Bosnia and Spain.

According to Zashyk, the players who participate in these competitions will be those he intends to use in the European Championship.

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