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Basketball - 24. February 2008.

ARG - Pinto looks ahead as Argentina women prepare for Madrid

BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) - Argentina women's coach Eduardo Pinto knows he and his players face an almighty challenge to reach the Beijing Games with five places still up for grabs.

The South Americans were drawn in the same group at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women as the Czech Republic and Angola. The top two advance to the quarter-finals, and the four winners of those games clinch a place in China.

"We have a unique chance and we are not going to throw it away," Pinto vowed.

"We must play at our best level to overcome both teams."

Argentina's first period of preparation will run March 1-8, and they will then travel to Ecuador to play in a South American tournament in May before leaving for Europe and taking part in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

"In the first preparation we will base our work on the physical side," Pinto said. "This group has been working on this aspect since the end of January. We will also begin our tactical planning.

"In May, we will get the players that are playing abroad. We have spoken to some of them and have been following their performances."

 One of them is Tarbes center Gisela Vega, Argentina's 1.88m center .
"The Argentina Basketball Confederation will make a big effort so that the team will have the players we need," Pinto said.

"We can say there is a 90% probability Gisela Vega will be there and she wants to be in the best form to fight for a place at the Olympic Games."


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