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Arsic Upbeat About FYROM Chances

30 August 2007

FYR Macedonia are within touching distance of a place in the EuroBasket after a 73-63 triumph over Bosnia-Herzegovina in the third meeting of the two sides this year.

Sky high after overtaking Estonia to reach this phase of the additional qualifying tournament, FYROM started the game like a house on fire and led 29-10 in the final minute of the opening quarter before surviving a brilliant fightback by the Bosnians.

They closed the gap to one midway through the final quarter but weren't able to draw level or take the lead.

"This was a different game from the last two against Bosnia," admitted FYROM coach Jovica Arsic.

"We neutralized their main players (Sasa) Vasiljevic and (Feliks) Kojadinovic, (Kenan) Bajramovic caused some problems but we coped with that. 

"The team-play was their advantage because they have played together longer, but we were about victory and nothing else!"

It's been a grind for the teams in the additional qualifying tournament, and Arsic admitted that has certainly been the case for his troops.

"We had problems with the tight schedule and some injuries (Gjorgji Cekovski and Ryan Stack)," he said.

"We lost two days in traveling from here to there and around, we even had training couple of hours prior to the game with the Bosnians, and we were not 100% ready.

"That is why we had oscillations in our form and in the game."

Bosnia and Israel now play on Thursday, while FYROM take on the Israelis on Friday.

"Now it is the game with Israel," Arsic said, "practically to be or not to be. There is no favorite on this tournament.

"The three teams are equal in quality, being regular part of the EuroBasket championships, Israel has some more experience with some players in the top clubs of European basketball.

"Bosnia played the best in the preparation period but the motivation was and is on our side.

"This team has a lot to go for, playing with the best in Europe is our common wish."

FYROM are also hoping to finally get the exquisitely talented Vrbica Stefanov into the EuroBasket finals for the second time.

"This is the last chance for Vrbica Stefanov to be a part of a major tournament," Arsic said of the 33-year-old who had 18 points to lead FYROM.

"He showed his experience and his determination by playing another game at the highest level, guiding his teammates to another great victory."

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