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MNE - Unfinished business

07.03.2013 - Basketball

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PODGORICA (EuroBasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - Miodrag Baletic and Montenegro had a roller-coaster existence at the EuroBasket Women in Poland two years ago.

The Balkan nation was a surprise package, sweeping everything aside in its path in its first six games, including upsets of Spain and France.

There appeared to be only one way for Montenegrin women's basketball to go, and that was up.

But after a 74-70 triumph over Latvia, everything unraveled for Baletic's team.

Turkey defeated them in the Quarter-Finals, 56-44, thus ending Montenegro´s bid for a medal.

Then crucially, the national team blew a chance to compete at the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women (OQTW) in Ankara, where it would have been among the favorites to reach the London Games.

After bouncing back from the loss to Turkey with a 68-59 triumph over Lithuania, Montenegro went up against a Croatia side that it had beaten 10 days before by 21 points.

Croatia beat them 73-59 and went to the OQTW, where they claimed one of the five spots on offer for the London Games.

Their women's team played at an Olympics for the first time.

Montenegro are determined to get it right in 2013, when they at the EuroBasket Women in France with the aim of reaching the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

They will compete in Group A against Slovak Republic, Turkey and Ukraine.

In a news release on the Basketball Federation of Montenegro website, Baletic has named a 16-strong preliminary squad that doesn't include a vital player from 2011 in Anna De Forge.

The 36-year-old averaged 13.4 points, 2.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds at the EuroBasket Women in Poland.

De Forge didn´t feature last summer in the Qualification Round, either.

The naturalized player named among the 16 is Eshaya Murphy, a EuroLeague Women winner last year with Ros Casares.

Murphy, a 1.90m guard, played American college basketball at the University of Southern California and has been a WNBA player since 2007.

One of the headline names in the Montenegro preliminary squad is Iva Perovanovic, who led the team last summer in qualifying with averages of 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Preliminary squad: Jelena Skerovic, Snezana Aleksic, Bozica Mujovic, Jelena Culafic, Sanja Knezevic, Milica Milosev, Milica Jovanovic, Ana Baletic, Milka Bjelica, Eshaya Murphy, Jelena Dubljevic, Iva Perovanovic, Ana Turcinovic, Kristina Rakovic, Natasa Popovic and Marina Vucetic.



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