|Elvis Evora believes Portugal's teamwork is key to them achieve something in a very tough Group A|
It only takes one glance at the Portuguese players to realise just how much it means for them to be part of the 2011 EuroBasket.
Portugal went through the Additional Qualifying Round to reach the tournament in Lithuania and are competing at the event for the first time since 2007.
One player that was in the team in Madrid four years ago is veteran center Elvis Evora.
The 33-year-old big man missed last year's Division A campaign through injury.
fibaeurope.com: Elvis, put into perspective what it means to Portugal to be competing at this EuroBasket?
Evora: "We are very happy to be here. It was one of our big goals to be at this tournament. We could not be any happier. We are going to try to enjoy all the games and the competition. Four years ago was the first time that Portugal qualified and we were all ecstatic to be playing against world-class players. For some of our players, this is the first time they are competing at the EuroBasket so there is a lot of excitement."
fe: It was a difficult journey for Portugal to make it to Lithuania. Were there ever any doubts that you would not qualify?
Evora: "At the beginning we thought we were going to be out but this opportunity came and we knew we had to grab it with our hands. We didn't make a perfect start in the qualifying round. Our preparations started very soon and we had tough games. Hungary stayed out but maybe they deserved to be here too. We just did enough to be here. In a way, it was good to pass these tests because we felt more prepared for this competition."
fe: Portugal could not have asked for a more challenging group with powerhouses Spain, Turkey and Lithuania in your pool as well as Poland and Great Britain. How happy are you to be in this group?
Evora: "It is a very tough group but somehow we are delighted to be in it. We know that we have in our group the strongest teams in the competition. The defending champions Spain, tournament hosts Lithuania and of course and last year's FIBA World Championship silver medalists Turkey. we know our limits but we have confidence in our team work. Perhaps individually we are not as strong as other teams, but with our chemistry and union within the group, we know we can do something. The collective strength is our weapon."
fe: After the opening defeats to Spain and Turkey, what is the mindset of the team?
Evora: "We always knew it would have been tough against Turkey and Spain. In theory our next opponents Poland and Great Britain should be more accessible for us but no game is easy at this stage. We are going to face every game with the same attitude and determination to win. We know it's going to be very difficult, but we want to do better and give our best."
fe: How much does it mean to have veteran coach Mario Palma back in the team?
Evora: "It's great to have him back. He is a very experienced coach, he is the coach with the most club titles in Portugal, he is 70! He teaches us a lot of things and we try to understand his philosophy inside and outside of the court. It has been a great experience to work with him."