|29 June 2009|
by Darko Nikolic, Belgrade
Zoran Kovacic knows what it's like to reach the top of the podium with Serbia at an U18 European Championship for Women.
He guided the team to gold in 2007.
Last summer, however, he watched as the team finished sixth.
Looking to bounce back from that disappointment in Nitra, Slovakia, the Blues will go all out for glory in Sweden where this year's U18 event is being staged.
Serbia are confident, and it's not surprising.
The two players who led the them in scoring last summer, Sara Krnjic (12.9pts, 11.1rbs) and Tina Jovanovic (11.6pts, 8.5rbs), are still with the team.
Krnjic, in fact, a 1.91m center, played on Kovacic's gold-medal winning side in Novi Sad two years ago as a 16-year-old.
Maja Vucurovic and Aleksandra Dobranic, who competed in Slovakia during the previous continental championship, are also back while the U18 side has been strengthened by young guard Snezana Colic, Serbia's scoring leader at the 2007 U16 European Championship in Naples where she averaged 17.4 points per game.
"There's no doubt we have individual quality in this group of players", Kovacic said.
"So, I expect these individual qualities to be translated into good team work in Sweden."
In the Preliminary Round, Serbia will take on Poland, Bulgaria and hosts Sweden.
Kovacic says Serbia have not had the best of build-ups to Sweden.
"We've faced problems during preparation for this championship, mostly because of injuries, but due to school commitments of our players, also," he said. "Still, I believe that we can be successful this summer".
Serbia squad for 2009 U18 European Championship for Women: Snezana Colic, Marina Markovic, Bojana Bogdanovic, Sandra Boskovic, Kaja Stankovic, Jelena Prvulovic, Milena Bubnjevic, Zorana Nikolic, Maja Vucurovic, Sara Krnjic, Tina Jovanovic, Aleksandra Dobranic.