Kirilenko Predicts Thrilling EuroBasket

14 September 2005

Russia captain Andrei Kirilenko has predicted the most open and exciting European Championships in recent years as his side prepare to travel to Serbia & Montenegro.

Kirilenko believes that nearly a dozen teams participating in the tournament have a chance of claiming gold and he thinks that even home advantage will not be enough to guarantee victory for the hotly-tipped host nation.

"I've counted 11 teams," he told Sport Express. "Latvia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Ukraine, and the winners of the qualifying tournament (Israel or Hungary) are weaker than the others.

"However, Latvia were close to beating Lithuania - the future champions - in the first game of the last European Championship, so every team has equal chances to win a game.

"Serbia & Montenegro will have a 55% to 45% chance. The championship will be the most unpredictable in recent years and the strongest as well. There will be no boring games."

Kirilenko thinks his own side have a chance of winning a medal and is eager to make the most of another chance to play in a big tournament.

"We have a mobile and versatile squad," he added.

"I'd call it universal. Several players can play in different positions and I like this kind of mutual help.

"I've realised that every game may be the last for you and your team. It's a special competition for all the players and the atmosphere makes a big impression. "I'd like to experience that for one more time."

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