Spain have quietly established themselves as one of the teams to be reckoned with after 4 days of action at the European Championship for U18 Women.
Standing in second place in Group B, a place in the quarter-finals is all but assured. Fibaeurope.com caught up with coach Alberto Ortego after his side’s 63:45 win over Israel to see just how happy he was with his team’s performance so far in the championship.
Are you satisfied with your team?
Ortego: I’m happy with our position in the group and the results, but we are not happy with the team’s performance because we can play better. We are a better team than we have shown until now.
|Ortego sees a bright future for Russia's Tatiana Bokareva |
Do you see the reason you are not performing as well as you can as mental or physical?
Ortego: No its not physical. We are not playing as well as we want but maybe its because the players are nervous.
The statistics show that your team is shooting just 25% three-pointers and 64% free throws.
Ortego: Maybe it’s because we are only playing well for a short time in each game. Then we relax and our percentage falls when we are up 20 points.
France is the top team in the group and beat you by 16 points, how good is the French team?
Ortego: Physically they are one of the best teams in the tournament. They may have problems playing against teams in the other group who are also physical. If they get to the final I think they will have a lot of problems playing against Russia.
Can you describe a typical day for you here at the championship, when you are not playing?
Ortego: Well we (myself and the assistant coach) are watching the games here in the arena. The girls went shopping yesterday and went for a meal with our team manager. We talk to the girls about different things in the hotel like health and diet and they do a lot of resting and sleeping. Depending on the day and the schedule, they can come to the gym and watch the other games.
Do you have any preference as to who you play in the quarter-finals?
Ortego: No, anyone expect Russia but we will not play them as they are first in the other group. We will play to win tomorrow and we want to be second. We don’t want to speculate about the score, we really don’t mind who we play. We consider Hungary, Serbia & Montenegro and Ukraine are all good teams.
If you play another physical team, like France, how can you win?
Ortego: It’s a top secret! No, if we know they are more physical we have to play faster smarter. There are different strategies to counter physical teams. We have to play at 100%.
Are there any players that stand out for you as future stars?
Ortego: The 2 centres from Russia, Tatiana Bokareva and Olga Iakovleva and Serbia & Montenegro’s Jelena Dubljevic are all great players. But I think that there are a lot of players here who will go onto play at a very good level in Europe.