One On One With Russia's Natalia Vieru

02.07.2007

1.98m Natalia Vieru is the tallest player competing at the UMCOR 18 European Championship for Women in Novi Sad.

The Russian center is using her height well, with the Dynamo Kursk youngster having led her team to three straight wins in the preliminary group stage.

Vieru has averaged 17.3 points and 10 rebounds for a Russia team aiming to bounce back from last year's disappointing 11th place.

Natalia spoke to Cindy Garcia-Bennett, on behalf of FIBA Europe.

FIBA Europe: Natalia, you had a game-high 21 points in Sunday's 68-64 triumph over France. How important was this victory for the confidence of your team?

Natalia: "It was very important for us as we had lost against France in a recent tournament. France are playing very well so for us to beat them has given us a big morale boost."

FIBA Europe: Russia have progressed to the qualifying round at the top of Group D after three straight victories. Can we expect Russia to contend for gold this year?

Natalia: "Yes, we want to win and we want to get a good result. Of course, our aim is to go for the gold medal. I think it would be a great honour for us to finsh first in the competition. But there is still a long way to go."

FIBA Europe: Judging by your performances so far, you are not taking any opponents lightly.

Natalia: "Every team is strong in this competition and there are no easy games. We have to keep up our enthusiasm to go into every game in top form."

FIBA Europe: You were a member of last year's Russian U18 team in Tenerife. How does this tournament compare?

Natalia: "Last season was my first U18 tournament and I was nervous. I believe this tournament is proving easier for me and I can focus on my game. I try to be a good player and help my National Team do well."


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