Romania Women Hoping To Make Mark

10 August 2005

Romanian basketball is best known around the world for the great centre Gheorghe Muresan, who left French club Pau Orthez in 1993 to begin a new life in America.

The tallest man ever to play in the NBA at more than 230 cm - he turned out for the Washington Bullets and the New Jersey Nets over a six-year period - Muresan was such a sports icon that actor Billy Crystal asked him to be in his 1998 movie 'My Giant'.

The women's game in Romania does not have a figure like Muresan in its past, but big things could be in their future.

Romania's women have qualified for September's EuroBasket after winning five of their six qualifying games

The chairman of the country's basketball federation, Carmen Branisteanu, is optimistic but also realistic.

After spending time with the team in Slovakia where the national side was training, she said:

"Romanian basketball is passing through a period of transition and it will be very hard for us to fight with the real forces in basketball."

Romania will try to make their mark in Group B, which also includes tournament favourites Russia, as well as Serbia & Montenegro, Lithuania, Spain and hosts Turkey.

"Probably, if we were in the other group, it would have been something else and we could hope at least for fifth place," Branisteanu said.

The mood has been upbeat in training.

Anyone standing outside the sports hall in Brasov is likely to hear at the end of practice: "Well done! Two, Three and...Romania!"

Worryingly for Romania's team is that important players have missed time with the group.

Monica Brosovszky, their 1.75m guard who averaged 14.7 points per game during qualifying and scored 20 in Romania's 54-51 victory over Germany, is on her honeymoon.

Power forward Erszebet Ambrus, who played more than 26 minutes per game in the qualification round, is expecting a child while 1.94m center Florina Pascalau has left the country to sort out a club contract.

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