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Portugal Build Up Going Nicely

04.07.2005
By Julio Chitunda, PA International

Iberia already have one team in the EuroBasket 2005 final round and there could be two if Portugal can build on their successful start to the summer.

Valentyn Melnychuk's men have won seven friendlies in a row, including three over both England and Slovakia, and a triumph over Castilla & Leon - a regional Spanish side.

For Portugal to reach EuroBasket 2005 where they would join neighbours Spain, they must win an additional qualifying tournament.

Melnychuk's troops are in Group C of the additional qualifying round with Hungary and Sweden.

The side that finishes top of that group will face the winners of the other two groups in the second phase, and that national team that prevails will secure the remaining berth for the 16-team EuroBasket.

A couple of highly-rated players from the Cape Verde Islands have recently become Portuguese nationals are also at the disposal of Melnychuk.

They are Carlos Andrade, who plays for domestic champions Queluz, and the 18-year-old revelation of the Portuguese top flight this season, Joao Gomes of Barreirense.

"We are getting better in our offensive game," Melnychuk said to the Record newspaper.

"On defence we have had some mistakes that we need to improve on."

In Wednesday's 99-83 win over Slovakia, Francisco Jordao had 32 points for the Portuguese while Andrade had 15 in his best performance since joining the team two weeks ago.

Paulo Cunha was outstanding in Spain in the wins over Slovakia and Castilla & Leon.

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