Lotos Gdynia star Chamique Holdsclaw is hoping the Polish team's young players can gain some big-game experience quick enough so they are still competing for a spot in the EuroLeague Women eighth-finals after the Christmas break.
Gdynia host defending champions Spartak Moscow Region on Thursday but it will take more than another standout performance by the American starlet for Roman Skrzecz's team to beat the mighty Russians in Group C.
"We just want to go out and piece together a 40-minute game. We can't have any let-ups. We can't give up," said Holdsclaw, who collected 32 points and five rebounds but saw her team lose last week at 2006 champions Gambrinus Brno on a 24-8 fourth quarter run by the Czech giants.
"We have to give our best effort and know that we tried hard. But we're getting better. We're working on a lot of things and I hope we can execute them."
Holdsclaw said to FIBA Europe that games like Brno and Spartak Moscow Region are great learning experiences.
"I thought we played really close (with Brno) until about six minutes left.
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We're still a relatively young team and were playing against an experienced team away," she said. "We made some mistakes and they capitalised on them."
She added: "When you have a young team, you have to grow from each experience. We made a few mistakes we would have not made if we had more experience and communicated better. We're in a tough group and it's going be a fight in every game. But it will be good for our younger players to get more confidence."
Holdsclaw said the club's goals are clear for this season.
"We want to win the Polish league. But in the EuroLeague we just want to get better. We have to get our young players to play with some confidence because we will need them down the stretch. And we want to finish in the top four of the group."
One of the keys to this season's success, Holdsclaw said, was 23-year-old German international wing Anne Breitreiner, who struggled from the field in scoring just seven points on two of nine shooting against Brno.
"She works hard. I make jokes with her all the time that she reminds me or Rip Hamilton or Reggie Miller. She's a great shooter and does so well running off screens," said Holdsclaw, who won the Polish league crown last season with Wisla Can-Pak Krakow.
"Sometimes you watch a player and think they're one-dimensional. When I played against her last year I thought she was just a shooter. But she worked really hard in the off-season and she can now defend really well and can put the ball on the floor and drive too. Her possibilities are unlimited."
Breitreiner and the other young Gdynia players will need to show their potential and help Holdsclaw if the Polish side are to mount a serious challenge against the defending champions.