On February 18, Nicosia (Cyprus) hosted a FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Pre-Qualifiers "bubble". The Men's National Team of Belarus got the first defeat in the tournament, losing to Portugal - 57:75.

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The National Team of Belarus went to the Cypriot "bubble" to Nicosia with not the most competitive squad. Since Rostislav Vergun's team won all 4 previous matches and secured their further participation in the World Cup qualification in advance, the coaching staff decided to give young basketball players a chance to show their quality in the international arena. Unfortunately, it was an unequal battle on the floor of the sports complex in Nicosia, and Portugal won.


Already in the first quarter, it became clear that the game would be played in a persistent positional struggle, and special attention would be paid to defense. Both teams did not boost the pace, which is why there was no big difference in the score at the end of the starting 10 minutes - 14:12 in favor of our rivals.

But the next 20 minutes became a real nightmare for Belarus. In the attack, Rostislav Vergun's team did very little: the guys scored 11 points in the second quarter and only 6 in the third. 29 points in 30 minutes of the match - it is hardly that result our team hoped for in this match.

That said, the Portuguese took advantage of the decline of the Belarusian National Team in the attack and before the last quarter determined the winner of the meeting - 56:29. Despite the fact that the first or second place in the group at the end of this stage of qualification does not affect the seeding in the draw for the next qualifying round, the Belarusians still wanted to remain undefeated before the Saturday match against Albania. For this, Rostislav Vergun's players had to lose more than 16 points. And our team was incredibly close to this goal: thanks to the hits of Mikulski and Blizniuk, the Belarusian team came close to "-16".

However, the national team was one throw away from the victory, Portugal won with a score of 75:57, despite our guys' 28 points in the 4th quarter.

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2 young basketball players made their debut in the match against Portugal. Defender Uladzislau Bliznyuk became one of the best in this meeting with 12 points and 5 assists. Center Vadzim Stubeda scored 2 points and made 3 rebounds in 9 minutes on the floor.


Rostislav Vergun, head coach of the Men's National Team of Belarus: “This is also an experience that, unfortunately, we got at such a price. I understand that the first three quarters of the game turned out to be sad for the fans. The guys who were supposed to be leaders in such a situation had an absolutely disastrous match. Everybody has bad games, but the coach's trust in some basketball players will not be easy to restore after such a match. I was very upset by the fact that with such a rough, I would say dirty game, which the referees allowed today, we could not stand up for ourselves, and we did not have a leader who would lead the whole team. We simply could not even start many interactions, because the opponent was playing very aggressively, and we could not at least open up and get the ball. I repeat, we knew what we were doing, giving young players a chance in this "window". I would not like to single out anyone, I will just note that there were some positive moments today. This is an experience for me, and I really hope that for the guys. I want to believe that the guys will make the right conclusions and become better and stronger, mainly mentally. In turn, today, as a coach, I had the opportunity to understand who exactly I can rely on and on the basis of which players the national team should be composed in the future”.

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What's next

Our team will have another game in the “bubble” in Cyprus: on February 20 Belarus will play with Albania. The game will start at 20:00 Belarusian time.

Portugal - Belarus - 75:57 (14-12, 25-11, 17-6, 19- 28)

Belarus: Vikentsyeu (12 + 6 rebounds), Salash (7), Beliankou (2), Stabrouski (2), Rahozenka (0); Blizniuk (12 + 5 assists), Pustahvar (11), Mikulski (7), Malkou (2), Stubeda (2), Trastsinetski (0).

SECTION Federation