Perhaps no player has a point to prove at the EuroBasket Women in Latvia as much as Olexandra Gorbunova of Ukraine.
The 23-year-old small forward is coming off a difficult campaign with CSKA Moscow, where minutes were sparse.
She recently secured a move to Halcon Avenida in Spain, a team that reached the final of the EuroLeague Women.
Next month, Gorbunova will play for Ukraine at the EuroBasket Women.
She gave this interview to FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Olexandra, when did you join the national team and what are your thoughts?
Gorbunova: I joined the team late after arriving home to Berdiansk after not seeing my parents for more than six months, so I was allowed to be late for the training camp in Yuzhny. I have to thank our coach for understanding this, for allowing me to relax after a long season. I should say that we finally have all the things we need for the preparations - the Khimik facility is fantastic. It can't compare to what we usually get in Pusha-Vodytsya so now it's only up to us to jell and show our best in Latvia. We have to be on the same page physically and tactically by the time the EuroBasket Women starts.
FIBA Europe: Inna Kochubei said how much you Ukraine players missed each other because of the long break...
Gorbunova: Yes, she was right. We started phoning each other way before the camp was supposed to start, asking when and how we were all coming here. We got several new young players, but there's no discrimination. We don't get into different social groups. We accept them into our circle because we all understand how important a positive team climate is. I noticed this the first day I spent with the team.
FIBA Europe: You had a tough season with the CSKA Moscow. What did you think about playing in Moscow for friendly games against Russia and Israel during the preparations for the EuroBasket?
Gorbunova: You know, despite having a tough time understanding some of the CSKA coaching decisions and my unhappiness with the playing time I had, there are no hard feelings. We parted ways like a family, so now, when I return to Moscow, I will only have positive emotions.
FIBA Europe: It has been announced that you got a new contract with Salamanca. What do you expect from the new season in Spain?
Gorbunova: I was in the city twice when we played them with CSKA. It's a great place to live and play in. They remember me for playing for the under-18 and under-20 national teams, therefore when CSKA was falling apart last winter I had an offer to join them. I also know some of Salamanca players well, especially (Spain guard) Silvia Dominguez, who we played against during many junior European championships. So I have high expectations for the upcoming season. The most important thing for me is to regain the level of confidence, which I lost in Moscow and I hope the friendly games for the national team and the EuroBasket Women will help me get back to my level.
FIBA Europe: You will have had about eight scrimmages before you start the EuroBasket Women campaign. Is that enough to prepare for the event?
Gorbunova: It depends on what shape the player is in. We will be facing very strong teams in the process of preparation, plus a month period is more than enough to prepare for the EuroBasket Women. The thing is that we have less than a week before we play our first game and we have to be tactically ready for it. If not, it will be very hard to improve our strategy while playing all these friendlies.