BELGRADE (EuroBasket Women) - Serbia are not one of the favorites heading into next month's EuroBasket Women in France, but coach Marina Maljkovic is willing to make some guarantees.
One of them, she has firmly declared, is that the members of the national side will play "with their heart, for their people."
"It would be arrogance to say we'll go for medal in France," Maljkovic said.
"Every single victory of my team will make me very happy.
"That's our reality.
"We'll do our best to prepare ourselves in the best possible way.
"We'll represent Serbia and, in these hard times for our country, we'll try to make Serbian people proud."
The first phase of the training camp is over, which lasted a week and saw the team scrimmage twice against the Serbia U16 men's team and fall 75-55 and 86-61, respectively.
After that second loss, Maljkovic released Snezana Colic, Jelena Jovanovic, Jovana Jaksic and Katarina Vuckovic from the squad.
Ten players from the preliminary list will remain and be joined by captain Milica Dabovic, Tamara Radocaj, Dajana Butulija, Tijana Ajdukovic, Maja Skoric and Ines Ajanovic on 11 May.
"We've done a good job in our first week of preparations," Maljkovic said.
"I'm happy. I've met plenty new players and we've worked really well."
As for those two defeats against the U16s, Maljkovic showed she has a sense of humor.
"Well, it's either Serbia have a strong generation of cadets or next year, we'll call the U14 team to test us," she said.
At the EuroBasket Women, Serbia will play in Group C against hosts France, Latvia and Great Britain.
The top three sides will advance to the second phase.
Serbia are 32nd in the FIBA Rankings Women, with 11 other sides in the 16-team tournament field in France ranked higher.
Group opponents Latvia and Great Britain 16th and 24th, respectively, while the Slovakians are 37th.
"We are aware that in France, we'll face teams that are stronger than us, in their ranking, but in their individual and team strength, too," she said.
"They are faster and, simply, better teams than ours, as we are about to face the elite of European basketball.
"But, nobody can take away the desire, enthusiasm and huge effort from my team. And, we'll use our strong collective to face, objectively, stronger rivals."
Serbia will travel to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on 13 May and face Belgium in two friendly games.
After that, the national team will return to Belgrade for games against Sweden.
Serbian team for second phase of training camp: captain Milica Dabovic (Partizan), Tamara Radocaj (Partizan), Dajana Butulija (Partizan), Tijana Ajdukovic (Lavezzini), Maja Skoric (DKSK Miskolc), Ines Ajanovic (Cesis), Jovana Popovic (Vojvodina), Sasa Cadjo (Partizan), Nevena Jovanovic (Partizan), Adrijana Knezevic (Toulouse), Natasa Bucevac (Vojvodina), Aleksandra Crvendakic (Crvena Zvezda) Kristina Baltic (Partizan), Dragana Stankovic (Sloboda), Bojana Vulic (Canik Bld) and Milena Marjanovic (Vrsac).