EuroBasket 2011 AQR
By Julio Chitunda
Coimbra was the starting point in a journey for a Portugal team that is hell-bent on reaching the EuroBasket in Lithuania.
That is the belief of Portugal forward Carlos Andrade, who played a huge role for the Portuguese in their 71-66 victory over Hungary in the Additional Qualifying Round opening game on Tuesday night.
Andrade, who had a game-high nine rebounds to go with his 11 points, described this victory as a hugely significant triumph for a country trying to book a place at a EuroBasket for just the third time.
"It has been a very, very important win for us," Andrade said to Basketball World News.
"It's extremely important for our morale and it draws the route to the European Championship."
Andrade, who missed most of Portugal's preparations for the Additional Qualifying Round with a groin injury, described the Hungarians as "a strong, tall and very good rebounding team."
"They are also very strong on the fastbreak and with players like Adam Hanga and Akos Horvath, you never know what they have in mind," Andrade said, adding that Portugal's "team effort played a key role in this win."
"Diminishing both Adam Hanga and Akos Horvath's game was a great success for us."
Another key factor on Tuesday was the experience in the Portuguese side.
One player who shone for the team at EuroBasket 2007 in Spain, Miguel Miranda, led Portugal with 18 points.
"He is a very intelligent player," Andrade said, "very strong in his long-range shooting, extremely versatile and a great reader of the game which makes it difficult for players of his size to stop him."
Portugal's next two encounters are away to Finland on August 15 and then in Hungary three days later.
On those occasions, it will be much tougher as the crowds will be rooting against Portugal.
"Those two games will be quite difficult for us," Andrade said.
"But we can't be negative and think that playing away is synonymous with defeat.
"We can win those games."