|17 August 2012|
|Ionut Dragusin goes for a block against the Dutch's David Jansen|
Romania are among the underdogs when it comes to making it to the Final Round of EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia, but right now the players, coach and fans are all smiles.
Their 90-84 Qualification Round Group D win over the Netherlands this week in Sibiu has left everyone in a positive frame of mind.
"It was a difficult game, a game where we fought," Romania center Ionut Dragusin said.
"The supporters in Sibiu helped us a lot, which was very important.
"The hall was full and fans chanted throughout the game, which helped us very much and we all enjoyed it.
"The home crowd was our advantage."
Tough games are ahead for Dragusin and Romania, starting this week in Georgia.
But they have every cause to dream.
"We expect some very difficult games on the road," he said.
"We are confident that we will improve from game to game.
"In Georgia, it will be a difficult battle, but we hope to win the home games which is very important to get two to three games.
"We know that Bosnia and Georgia are the group favorites but we were united (against the Netherlands) and I hope we can continue on this road."
Dragusin had a lot of attention on him this week because he was charged with the responsibility of both guarding, and attacking on offense Francisco Elson.
The Dutch team center, Elson has played in the NBA.
"I tried to play well no matter the opponent's name," Dragusin said.
"I've never been scared of opponents' names."
|Janis Strelnieks and his Latvia teammates are young but have gained valuable experience at EuroBasket 2011|
Latvia didn't get the result they craved in their opening game of the EuroBasket Qualification Round at Bosnia and Herzegovina, an 87-84 defeat on the road.
The Baltic outfit showed plenty of fight in the game, though, leading by as many as six points in the fourth quarter.
The team that lost all five games last year at the EuroBasket suffered another frustrating loss.
Basketball federation president Valdis Voins is upbeat about the campaign.
"In recent years we are accustomed to having a young and inexperienced team," he said.
"It is still so, but is gradually gaining (in experience).
"Before the EuroBasket in Lithuania, we were quite happy with the fact that our team was successfully grappling with the elite teams ...
"(But) This year, we expect to win.
"For six EuroBaskets in a row, Latvia has made it to the Final Round and the current team has one goal - to continue this series."
Voins added: "I urge fans to support our team both at home and away from home, keeping our fingers crossed."
Latvia, who were led by Janis Strelnieks' 18 points in Sarajevo, next host the Netherlands on 21 August.
Before the Dutch travel to Latvia, they will try to bounce back from their defeat at Romania.
Next up for Jan Willem Jansen's men is a home game against Bosnia and Herzegovina this weekend.
Jansen is still smarting of the defeat in Romania.
"We were close, but could not make the final step," he said.
"On paper, it was the least difficult away game, although each away game is hard.
"The circumstances, the bad floor - it did not work to our advantage."
Georgia and Zaza
Will Georgia have their NBA center Zaza Pachulia for their game against Romania or will they not?
That is the big question with Pachulia having picked up a foot injury this week ahead of the team's opener.
"I'd be surprise if the status has not changed for the better," Pachulia said.
"I hope that the rehabilitation process will not last a long time and I'll be able to play."