By Leslie Anderson
Germany and Italy will contest the final of the U16 European Championship Women on Sunday after seeing off Slovenia and Israel in their respective semi-finals on Saturday.
The Germans edged home 69-67 against the Slovenians following a 28-17 showing in the final quarter.
Sonja Greinacher paced the victors with 19 points and 10 rebounds to ensure Nika Baric's game-high haul of 23 points was in vain.
It was a hectic start to the game with both sides going for an early break. Slovenia was playing at a high pace using the speed of Nika Baric to open a lead at the end of the first period (12-18).
Alexandra Maerz managed to get her girls to slow down the pace of the game using Svenja Brunckhorst to defend Nika Baric.
Slovenia managed to hold a tight lead for most of the closed-fought game but Germany went in front with 3:50 left in the game when Sonia Greinacher completed a nice move team under the basket and they used a 9 -2 run to lead 67-61. But Slovenia tied the game from the three-point line.
With 28 seconds left on the clock Germany took their time and fed the ball to Sarah-Marie Frankenberger on the base line. She cooly converted just before the 24-second buzzer went off to put Germany in the final.
Germany coach, Alexandra Maerz, said after the game: "I think that both teams had a very good game and both deserved to be in the final but in the end we either had more luck or showed more wil. They fought brilliantly and I am proud of my girls."
Italy enjoyed an altogether more comfortable passage to the final courtesy of an 80-59 triumph over Israel.
Elena Bestagno contributed 15 points and five rebounds. The game's top scorer, Bar Galinski (20 points), was again on the losing side.
The game was a close contest and in an action-packed second period the score was tied on three occasions. But Giulia Brotto's reverse-spin lay-up followed by a jump shot was part of a 12-0 run that put Italy in front for the first time in the match.
Italy wrestled the match away from Israel for good in the 37th minute with a trey from Giulia Pasqualin (72-55) that knocked out the Israeli effort.
The host nation's 12 offensive rebound was the difference between the teams.
Italy's coach Marco Rota said after game: "We have been working for one year for this result, we were not allowed to miss this game, this was the most important game of the season and we were able to play the write game and we are happy for this.
"Now that Italy is back in the first division we are all satisfied about this."