Watch the second Semi-Final of the U18 European Championship Women LIVE and for free on FIBA Europe TV, Saturday at 19:15 CET
|Lisanne de Jonge says the Netherlands will feel no pressure in the semi-final. Friday's double-overtime quarter-final could mean tiredness will be a factor however|
By Paul Nilsen
There were tears of sheer joy rolling down the cheeks of an elated Lisanne de Jonge after the Netherlands won the most emotional game of the U18 European Championship Women so far.
The small forward was the difference maker with three big triples and 19 points in a classic double-overtime success against Turkey, which booked the Netherlands a place in the semi-final clash with France.
Unsurprisingly, it led to an outpouring of emotion and relief after the final buzzer as the sense of achievement started to sink in.
"I can't believe it, I am so happy and this is just amazing," smiled de Jonge.
"Normally I am not really much of a shooter but in this game my three-pointers just dropped so that felt particularly great for me.
"We are so proud. I think this is the first time the Netherlands has reached the last four of a tournament in Division A.
"It's also hugely exciting to now be able to think about not only playing France with the chance of a medal, but also to be playing teams from all around the world next year since we will be at the FIBA U19 World Championship."
France should certainly try to get the job done during regulation time when they lock horns with the Netherlands.
For this was the second epic-overtime game that the Dutch have won during their stay in Bucharest, having beaten potential final opponents Serbia in the Second Round.
"I think against Serbia we came back after losing by many points during the game so it was a little different, but still very important," recalled de Jonge.
"In this overtime (with Turkey), we just kept fighting and fighting because neither team wanted to lose as there was so much at stake for both of us."
De Jonge's attention now turns to France.
|Olivia Epoupa could hold the key for Les Bleues against the Dutch defence in the semi-final. The French point guard loves nothing more than running in the open court - really fast|
"It's going to be tough for sure but we can enjoy it since we have made the last four now and this is great for us.
"I don't think we can exactly relax but we won't feel real pressure in the semi-final."
As for France, they will be favourites having lost only once during the tournament - to potential final opponents Russia.
Olivia Epoupa has been instrumental in the run to the last four, continuing to enhance her burgeoning reputation with some typically excellent and vibrant displays at the point guard position.
Her energy is what continues to drive France, and the Netherlands will somehow have to try and stop her in the open court and from penetrating to the basket but with the Dutch guards not amongst the quickest, coach Remy de Wit has a headache.
The Netherlands do have a potential advantage with their wing players and specifically the athleticism, shooting ability and impact of small forwards like Isabella Slim and De Jonge.
Meanwhile the battle in the paint will place a lot of emphasis on forward/center Kourtney Treffers who will have her hands full trying to contain the strong frontcourt rotation of France.
Perhaps the real reason for the success of the French has been this depth, which has consistently worn teams down during the final quarter of games.
It certainly promises to be a fascinating match-up all over the floor as France bids to make their third final in four years.