No medals, but place at World Championship

Belarus’ national basketball team is to perform at World Championship. This has become clear after Belarusians confidently beat Czech players in the struggle for the fifth place. Nevertheless, the finished continental tournament left many questions both towards the squad itself and the demonstrated results
By Dmitry Baranovsky

Rimantas Grigas’ trainees were going to France to be awarded with medals. They didn’t speak about this openly but the girls’ ambitions were clear even without any explanations. This tournament was the last chance for many to enter the medals podium. For the sake of this opportunity, representatives of the generation who earned bronze medals at similar European tournament in 2007 (for the first time in the history of Belarusian sport) decided to wait little with finishing of their sporting careers. The backgrounds for repeating their success were not only hypothetical.

Unlike most rivals, who undertook the ‘rejuvenation’ of the line-up after the London Olympiad, the Belarusian squad started the European Championship only with slight corrections in the roster. Alexandra Tarasova, who spent the whole previous European tournament in the reserve, has managed to turn into the squad’s major ball handler. Moreover, Alla Muravskaya, Olga Isteletsova and Zhanna Gorodetskaya were added to the national team and these can be hardly named the younger generation of players. Of course, all these posed questions for the future yet significantly increased Belarusian girls’ chances at present moment. Certainly, competing against the national teams of France and Spain — the leaders — were above their strength, although our girls looked well in the match against the French. Nevertheless, they had to tenaciously cling to the third place but failed…

Summing up the results of the tournament, many are likely to reproach Rimantas Grigas for the match against Lithuania. After ensuring the place in the second round (during the first two meetings), the coach gave a day-off to the leaders of the team, sending younger generation almost for the whole match. Although they played self-sacrificially but failed to win and it turned later that this meeting was earth-shaking…

Yelena Levchenko complained for the difficulty to join the rhythm after a long break after the national team of Belarus suffered an unexpected defeat in the most important match against the national squad of Serbia during the second round. Anyway, the girls have managed to get into play-offs by beating their rivals from the UK, yet made their life extremely difficult in the quarter-finals. The Turkish national squad, which de facto left Belarusians without medals, actually only used the difficulties that Belarusians created themselves on their way to the knock-out round.

Nevertheless, the Belarusian girls have coped with the minimum task. The squad will come to the World Championship, so is obliged to thoroughly learn the ‘French’ lesson. After the end of the tournament Mr. Grigas spoke that all problems of the Belarusian team lie in psychology. Teamwork and common mood for victory, as well as some corrections in attack, will enable Belarusian girls to fight for medals, even against the background of the world leaders. The issue is that it’s far more complicated to find a psychological balance in an ambitious female national squad than to ‘take into pieces’ the forthcoming opponents. We’d like to believe that they will succeed in solving this task.
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