Girls able to stand up for themselves

Belarus’ national women’s basketball team enters European Championship qualifying tournament by defeating Hungary at Sports Palace in Minsk and the Portuguese in away match
By Dmitry Baranovsky

The initial matches have been interesting on several fronts. Naturally, one mistake can lead to defeat and relegation to the ‘basement’ of European basketball. Moreover, new coach Lithuanian Rimantas Grigas, who has replaced Anatoly Buyalsky, is using new tactics with the squad. Despite having seen them in action in friendly matches, play in a serious tournament brings new impressions. Nevertheless, there is much yet to be seen. The defeat of Hungary was pleasing — it being a strong rival; its head coach, Stefan Svitek, may soon head Turkish Fenerbahce SK. However, Hungarian leader Zsofia Fegyverneky was absent through injury. We could argue that our team was lacking Yelena Levchenko, but it is arguable whether it was a fair ‘exchange of queens’.

Mr. Grigas’ strategy of ‘siege’ worked well, with strong defence necessary in both matches. The coach has been working hard for the past month to ensure the Belarusian squad a successful start. Happily, the girls managed to win despite faults and failures (by the third quarter of the Hungarian match, the score was a distressing 2:12).

Yekaterina Snytina, Alexandra Tarasova and Anastasia Veremeenko ensured the necessary score but the team remains unjudged by Mr. Grigas. Speaking at a press conference, he looked neither thoughtful nor disappointed, saying, “The result was very important for us. We focused on defence, so the score is modest, but this has no real significance. Vitally, we won — even with a minimum gap. We passed the test.”

Our girls are returning from Portugal in good spirits, which we hope will remain throughout the European qualification round.
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