Underdogs Ukraine Hope For Best At U18 European Championship

27 June 2009

Ukraine are wrapping up their final training camp before travelling to Sweden for the U18 European Championship for Women.

Head coach Yevhen Filozof, whose team will leave Kiev for Stockholm on July 1, has some real concerns about his team's backcourt.

Oleksiy Naumov spoke to Filozof on behalf of FIBA Europe.

FIBA Europe: Yevhen, tell us about your preparations for the U18 European Championship for Women.

Filozof: We are finishing up the final stage of our preparations here, in Kiev. Prior to this, we took part in a tournament in Slovenia, where we played three games against Germany, Slovenia and Poland.

FIBA Europe: How did those games turn out?

Filozof: The first was a 74-71 win that left a very good impression. We played solid defense and our offensive sets were working. But when we lost to Slovenia by something around 60 points the next day, and around 20 to Poland the day after, we felt desperation. It was obvious how different our level was, how much weaker our guards looked.

FIBA Europe: Has anything happened since that gives you cause for optimism?

Filozof: The good thing is that Alina Yagupova of BC Dnipro has just joined us. She is a good point guard who can shoot and drive to the hoop, so we are hoping she can improve the organization of our game. We are very strong in the paint with Olesya Malashenko, who is joining us after playing for the senior national team in Latvia, and Olga Maznichenko, who also took part in preparations for the EuroBasket Women and was a last-minute cut.

FIBA Europe: What are you focusing on right now?

Filozof: It's impossible for us to get a scrimmage here against another women's team. The under-20 team has just left for Poland for a friendly tournament and all the clubs are on vacation, and we badly need to play. So we scrimmaging against each other every day is what we will continue to do until we leave for Sweden.

FIBA Europe: Is a podium finish a possibility, or do you have aims that are not quite as lofty?

Filozof: To tell you the truth, they don't set unrealistic goals for us. The most important thing is to stay in Division A. In this regard, the final group game against Slovakia will be the most important for us.


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