Turkey Have Toughest Group - Tanjevic

15 January 2005
By Doug Booth, PA International

Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic believes Saturday's draw for the European Championships has done his team few favours.

Turkey were paired with Croatia, Lithuania and Bulgaria in Group B of Eurobasket 2005 in Belgrade this September.

Though he avoided the likes of Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, France and hosts Serbia & Montenegro, Tanjevic told PA International: "We are in the strongest group.

"The biggest threat is Lithuania, who have prepared well and will be hard to stop as they seek a second successive gold medal."

Turkey were runners-up to Yugoslavia when they hosted Eurobasket 2001 but their form dropped off considerably the next two years.

They had a disappointing ninth-placed finish at FIBA World Championship 2002 in Indianapolis and the following year at the Eurobasket 2003 in Sweden they were 12th.

Tanjevic, who replaced Aydin Ors at the helm, was in charge of the Italian team that won gold in 1999 and under him, Turkey's hopes have been revived as he steered them on an unbeaten six-game run in Eurobasket qualifying.

He knows he needs a full-strength roster to have any chance of winning gold. With players of the quality of Utah Jazz forward Mehmet Okur and Orlando Magic forward Hidayet Turkoglu pledging their allegiance, he has plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Turkey will also be keen to make a big impression in Belgrade as they lay the foundations for hosting FIBA World Championship 2010.

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