Crunch Time In Pescara

19.07.2008

Russia took first place honours in the U20 European Championship for Women Qualifying Round Group F, and their semi-final reward is a showdown with pre-tournament favourites Serbia.

Saturday's second semi-final has Group E winners France taking on Spain in Pescara.

Russia enter the semis as the only undefeated team left in the competition having won all six games, including a thrilling 68-64 victory on Thursday over the Spaniards, who had themselves been undefeated coming into that game.

Russia and Serbia promises to be another thriller as Alexander Kovalev's team hope to use their excellent inside-outside mix to get in their fifth U20 final since the age group began in 2000. The Russians won the title in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

Serbia look to return to the final, where they lost last summer against Spain. Jovica Antonic's Euroleague starlet Sonja Petrovic has joined the U20 squad after winning U18 gold last season and then playing in the U19 World Championship as well as EuroBasket Women.

Despite a strong tourney by Petrovic, the Serbs have struggled at times, wasting a 24-point lead in losing to the French in the Preliminary Round. But against Turkey, Petrovic and the rest of the Serb stars finally lived up to the favourite status.

In the second semi-final, Jordi Fernandez's defending champions Spain look to rebound from their loss against Russia - their first defeat of the tournament. The key will be Spain's ability to pressure the French back-court while handling the France low post players.

France advanced to the semis as a somewhat surprise winner of Group E after beating Serbia and reeling off five straight wins following their opening loss to hosts Italy. Coach Abdou Ndiaye said may have the services of shooting guard Sarah Michel, who has played very little since injuring her foot against Turkey on Wednesday


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