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Underdogs Bulgaria Warm Up For Big Return

26 August 2005

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sweden were underdogs at the last EuroBasket but Bulgaria wear that mantle going into this year's event.

The Bulgarians stunned everyone in qualifying by winning four of six games to finish second in Group B behind Latvia, pushing Israel back to third.

That secured Bulgaria's passage to the final stages of the European Championships for the first time since 1993.

The years most prominent in the country's hoops history are 1957 and 1961 when they finished second and third, respectively.

Reaching Serbia & Montenegro for the EuroBasket was hard for coach Rossen Barchovski and his charges.

Making an impact at the tournament will be even harder.

In Group B, Bulgaria will have to take on reigning champions Lithuania, powerhouses Turkey and Croatia.

There were fears CSKA Sofia playmaker Yordan Bozov might not be able to take part because of knee trouble but he appears to be fit and should be in the starting line-up on September 16 when Bulgaria open up their campaign against Croatia in Podgorica.

The Bulgarians will not have reserve Lyudmil Radulov, a 1.85m point guard who played in some of the qualifying games.

Radulov, another CSKA Sofia player, decided to have surgery on a troublesome ankle injury and the recovery has not gone well, ruling him out of the competition.

Barchovski will get a closer look at Bulgaria over the next few days as they take on FYR Macedonia, Cyprus and England in the traditional Sofia Award Tournament.

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