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Ukraine Hope For Better Against Spain

08 June 2009
By Jeff Taylor

Underdogs Ukraine know they will need a drastic improvement on their opening game defeat to Slovakia if they are to progress in the EuroBasket Women.

Thrashed by 22 points, Olexandra Gorbunova and Co on Monday go up against a Spain team that struggled to beat the Czech Republic.

Amaya Valdemoro (Spain)
Amaya Valdemoro's injury provides a ray of hope for Ukraine.
"Spain are one of the best teams in Europe and they are favorites," Gorbunova said.

"It doesn't matter how many points we lose by or how many points we are up or down, the important thing is that we fight.

"We have to be strong. You can lose as long as we know that we give everything we have on the court."

Ukraine are in the EuroBasket for the first time since 2003 and they had to win a spot via the Additional Qualifying Round to make it.

Spain, meanwhile, have won three bronze medals and a silver (2007) in the EuroBaskets since 2001.

They are playing without Amaya Valdemoro, the EuroBasket Women 2007 MVP, because of a calf injury.

Last Time Out: Spain beat Ukraine 76-71 in the Preliminary Round of the EuroBasket Women in 2003.

Key Match-up: Ukraine's Gorbunova and Anna Montanana. In a preview of next season's Liga Femenina when Gorbunova makes her debut with Perfumerias Avenida - the former club of Ros Casares star Montanana - the two players will battle it out for their respective countries.

X-Factor: Spain's Anna Cruz had a coming out party in her senior team debut against the Czechs with 12 points, three rebounds and two steals. Ukraine better keep an eye on the emerging star who was voted as Liga Femenina Player of the Year by her peers.

Stats: Ukraine were a woeful two of 14 (14%) from three-point range in their defeat to Slovakia. Spain lost center Cindy Lima to five fouls early in the third quarter but still out-rebounded the Czech Republic 47-41.

Sounding Off: "It's not a good feeling when you lose by 22 points your opening game" - Ukraine's Gorbunova.

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