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Uphill battle for Swiss basketball team

Swiss trainer, Renato Carettoni, hopes for a victory over Croatia

(Keystone)

Switzerland's basketball team take on Croatia on Wednesday in a European Championship qualifying game. After two defeats in the past week, Switzerland's hopes of winning a ticket to next year's competition in Turkey are virtually nil.

The Swiss are unlikely to be able to pull off a victory against Croatia. The Balkan team is top of its group and has not conceded a single point so far in the qualifying round.

Croatia have a strong record over the past decade. They were silver medallists at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and took bronze at the World Championships in 1994 and at the European Championships in 1993 and 1995.

They owe their place in the qualifying round to a poor performance at last year's European competition in France, when many of their top players were injured.

Switzerland's one advantage on Wednesday will be that they are playing at home, in Fribourg. Trainer Renato Carettoni can also count on his playmaker, Daniel Stark, who was injured for Saturday's game against Latvia.

Croatia won the away game in Dubrovnik last December by 93-53, and appear to be in good form. In the past week they have had clear victories over Slovakia and Hungary.

Only the top two teams in the qualifying group will go to the European Championships. Switzerland are currently languishing in fourth place and - bar a surprise victory against Croatia - cannot pull back into the top spots.

The Swiss are therefore setting their sights on pulling off victories in their next two games to secure the third place in the group. That would automatically give Switzerland a place in the qualifying round for the next European Championships.

At the end of January, Switzerland take on Hungary and Italy, teams which they beat in the first leg at home in Lugano.

swissinfo with agencies

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