|07 July 2011|
|Veteran Portugal center Miguel Miranda averaged 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in the Qualifying Round last summer|
There are two places still to be filled at this summer's expanded, 24-team EuroBasket in Lithuania.
Portugal aims to be in one of them.
Now undergoing intense workouts, the Portuguese and their new coach Mario Palma are just over a month away from playing against Hungary and Finland in the Additional Qualifying Round.
Two of those three teams will play in the Final Round of EuroBasket from August 31 to September 18.
Palma, who led Jordan to an historic bronze medal at the FIBA Asia Championship in 2009 to book a place in last year's FIBA World Championship, agreed to take over Portugal back in March.
He has a veteran team.
One of the leaders is 33-year-old center Miguel Miranda, a player who experienced EuroBasket 2007 in Spain when Portugal upset Latvia in their last group game to advance to the next stage.
In the second phase, they beat Israel but that wasn't enough for them to move on to the Quarter-Finals.
Miranda, one of the team captains, says this Portuguese team is as determined as ever to make its mark on Europe this summer.
"The preparations are going very well," he said.
"There were two weeks of hard work in which we attempted to assimilate most of the new working methods and systems of the new technical team game."
There have been some injury setbacks during this preparatory phase but Miranda says the group has responded to the adversity well.
"There are always regrettable and unfortunate situations for everyone," he said.
"But this is an experienced group, which unfortunately has gone through similar situations in the past, and it continues to work toward the goal of being present in Lithuania."
Moncho Lopez was the previous coach.
Miranda says the players have adapted to Palma's philosophy and coaching style.
"There are differences, as expected," Miranda said.
"Each (coach) has his own philosophy and working methods of his own.
"But I say again, the group is experienced and readily adapts to new ideas."
Most important for Miranda is that Portugal firmly believe they have the makings of a squad that can qualify for the EuroBasket.
"Just thinking that way makes it worth being here," he said.
"It is a goal that deserves our dedication and commitment."
What is the motto of this Portuguese squad?
"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger," Miranda said.