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Useful experience is always gained in games

Horizont basketball club from Minsk Region runners-up in the  Baltic Basketball League for second time in a row
By Dmitry Baranovsky

This tournament, which has been organised for twentieth time already, brings together the strongest teams of the Baltic region, as well as clubs from Sweden, Belarus and Ukraine. The participants have many world famous female basketball players who will soon take part in the World Championship, so competition in this event is very important. Belarusian squads have been active participants of this tournament since the League’s establishment, with Belarusian Horizont became first club from the country which won the tournament’s major prize in 1999. Our national teams repeated this last season, when Grodno Olympia celebrated victory. This time, the team from Grodno failed to retain their title, defeated by Kibirkstis-Vici Vilnius in the semi-final and taking the bronze. Meanwhile, the major event unfolded in the Vici-Horizont meeting.

The match was really dramatic. Not long ago, the two teams met as part of the League’s regular championship and, at that time, Horizont players celebrated victory at the Vitalyur Sports Complex. The Lithuanian female team had seriously prepared their revenge and piled on the pressure from the first moments, enabling them to seize the initiative and build a lead of 17 (!) points. Nevertheless, the Belarusian guests have managed to reduce the deficit. Natalia Anufrienko’s persistence and Tatiana Troina’s efficiency resulted in the score being reduced to just 4 points, just a few minutes before the final whistle. Unfortunately, the Belarusians failed to make two shots and equalise the game.

Commenting the result of the meeting, Horizont’s head coach, Anatoly Buyalsky, noted that the current youth of his team was the reason for their failure. “The new generation of players aren’t yet ready to efficiently play at this high level. Kibirkstis-Vici is a EuroLeague team, and playing in Europe’s strongest basketball tournament. These athletes have gained priceless experience which we lack.”

The Baltic League is aimed at compensating for this ‘drawback’. According to Alexander Shimkovyak, head coach of Grodno Olympia, the major goal of the League is to gain experience. “Such tournaments show our position. Kibirkstis-Vici plays basketball at a level which is played by the whole European elite, and at a level that we’re likely to face at European and World Championships,” he noted.

The national teams will start the season very soon. The Belarus Championship semi-finals have finished, with Horizont confidently defeating Gomel’s Sozh-GGU in one of them. The second semi-final will be the fifth meeting between Olympia and Tsmoki Minsk. The intrigue is likely to continue until the very last matches, testimony to the quality of female basketball in Belarus. We just have to be sure we do not lose it.
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