Estonia Try To Halt Slide


Estonia’s preparations for the men’s European Championship qualifiers are in turmoil, with the team losing 10 of their last 11 matches.

They were beaten again on Thursday, this time 80-82 by Finland.

But there were some encouraging signs, according to the Estonian daily newspaper Postimees, although turnovers, missed throws and technical mistakes eventually gave the win to their northern neighbours.

Head coach Heino Enden remains optimistic.

“I am not concerned about the losses,” Enden told Postimees.

Finnish Coach Henrik Dettman
“I think that the defeats will make us work harder. There are no players in my team who would start worrying (about the losses).”

But Estonian player Tanel Tein admitted that the team got nervous on Thursday - especially when the Finnish referee fouled out Rauno Pehka and Martin Muursepp.

“That was a true test for our nerves, but I don't think that we should get so upset because of the referee's doings,” Tein told Postimees.

“It's not like it was some really important game.”

Enden said the main fault wasn't the referee but the lack of cooperation between the players.

“The front line didn't play such an important role - three men scored only 13 points,” he said.

“The back-line played the game well though and the throws were more precise.”

Tein added: “We should work on the defence. We have come here from different clubs, we have to make sure we understand each other better.”

Top scorer for Estonia was Leho Kraav with 21 points. Tanel Tein added 18 and Rauno Pehka 17 points.

Finnish head coach Henrik Dettman told Postimees that Estonia will be a strong opponent in their qualifying group which includes Netherlands, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“It's really important for the small countries to play with the best possible team,” said Dettman.

“The fact that Gert Kullamae was missing against Finland probably affected Estonia - just like it would affect us if Hannu Mottola or Teemu Ranniko stayed out."

Kullamae missed the game for family reasons but will return for the opening game against Netherlands on September 8.

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