BRATISLAVA. To get the first win and keep at least a theoretical chance of progress. These are the goals with which the Slovak basketball players travel to the penultimate appearance in Group A of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers in Belgium (Thursday, June 30 at 8.30 pm).
The team of coach Oleg Meleščenko has had a good preparation, as witnessed by the solid performance at the international tournament in Portugal.
After the match in Belgium they have a home match against Latvia in Levice. Both Slovakian matches as part of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers will be broadcast live by the sports television RTVS: Šport.
The team has undergone changes
The central theme of the summer association team was mainly a noticeable change in the team, compared to the February and November meetings. For various reasons, the national team leaders Vladimír Brodziansky, Mário Ihring and Richard Körner are missing.
The responsibility was thus passed on to others, such as quarterback Šimon Krajčovič:
“We work with what we have. Who’s ready, who’s healthy and ready to play is here. Maybe the roles have changed a bit, but any man who runs out will give everything and fight for the success of the team. “
He is seconded by Dalibor Hlivák to conduct the Slovakian competition, he is back in the national team jersey after three years.
“Super conditions were created. I think everyone was happy to be invited and to be here. We are all here for a common goal, from day one we have been working on the things we want to do in competitions,” the judge said. Spišské Rytierov player preparing.
Good background checks in preparation
In addition to the training process in Levice and Bratislava, the Slovaks also presented themselves in preparation for an international tournament in Portugal.
The selection managed to beat the home team (80:73), the failed second half cost them success against Ukraine (61:75).
“By changing the squad a bit, it suited us well that we had the opportunity to play two high-quality preparatory meetings before the ‘sharp’ matches. I think it served its purpose. The encounters from our side were not bad, but that doesn’t mean anything. We need to play a little faster and maybe change the pressure in the defense a bit. In Belgium it is already necessary to fight for every ball,” says Krajčovič.
The divisions of coach Oleg Meleščenko have put in two great performances, which could be an encouragement for the final duels of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.
“I felt good. It was certainly two not easy matches and good controls before the meetings with Belgium and Latvia. The coach trusted me from the beginning, I tried to repay him in a certain way, just like everyone else.
Portugal was a tough opponent, faster and with quality players. Ukraine played more physically, it was already felt that it was our second game in two days,” Hlivák gave his view on Slovakia’s performance in Portugal.
Last chance to continue
The Slovaks are in last place in the A group with a record of 0-4, their promotion chances are already at the level of wild theories.
They can revive them with a triumph in Belgium, but they have to beat their opponent by at least 27 points and at the same time hope for a favorable result in the match between Latvia and Serbia.
“We will see which line-up Belgium comes with. We have also changed the line-up, so the match will be completely different from the one in November,” said Krajčovič.
One thing is for sure, Slovakia will try to finally erase the zero from the victory column. Even if hopes of promotion were to disappear on Thursday evening, the team is still waiting for the start of Euro 2025 pre-qualification in the summer.
“Belgium is a quality team with quality players. We have to focus on our own things that we have trained so far. You have to fight for each other, both in Portugal and in training. We will give 100 percent,” Hlivák added at the end .