Bagatskis: We know that we represent Ukraine in difficult times for the country. We are ready for the match

In the match against Italy, our team only needs a victory

Head coach of the Ukrainian national basketball team Ainars Bagatskis commented upcoming 2023 World Cup qualifier against Italy.

“As always, in the Ukrainian national team, emotions, work ethics – all this is at a special level. Everyone is in a good mood, everyone is happy to play against each other, and it is felt that during the season the guys miss this part of basketball life – the national team.

“We had two training sessions in Riga, our home arena, and after that we spent the whole day driving to Italy. We have 10 players in the cage, because due to certain health problems, we do not have a full squad at our disposal. Of course, some players have microtraumas, the season started already seven months ago. No one pays attention to this, because it doesn’t matter what players are on the team, it matters how we play, what the quality of our basketball will be. And full of energy, we are ready to play against Italy.”

“In my coaching career, I have had many matches against Italian teams – clubs and national teams. I have played against many players. And since June last year, we have opposed the Italian team twice. In these meetings, we demonstrated a truly high-quality basketball for 16 minutes. That was enough to beat Italy in the EuroBasket finals and lose to them in Riga. But that was in the past.”

“There is no past or future in professional sports. There is only today that we need to focus on. All thoughts about the game with Italy. And again: we know the opponent’s players well, they know our squad well. But Italy will have the advantage of the home court, all tickets for this wonderful arena are sold out. We know why we are here, we know why we play basketball, we know that we represent Ukraine in difficult times for the country. We are ready for the match.”

“It’s hard to come up with something new all the time. Based on what we’ve done in previous matches, we’ll be making some changes to the game. It is impossible to completely change the game: you can change the details, both in attack and in defense. But the most important thing in basketball is the physical component. Basketball starts with a physical fight, with how you prepare your body, how aggressively you play against an opponent. At both ends of the site. This is where it all starts.”

The selection match for the 2023 World Cup Italy – Ukraine will be held on February 23 in Livorno. The match starts at 22:00. On February 26 in Riga our team will play the final qualifying match against the Netherlands.

Recall that Italy has already qualified for the World Cup. Ukraine, Georgia and Iceland apply for the last ticket from our group. Ukraine has an advantage over Georgia and Iceland in personal meetings, but loses in terms of the number of victories won. The Ukrainians need to win both matches and hope that Iceland and Georgia lose at least one match each.

Source: Sportarena

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