Russia Stop Belarus, Unbeaten France Top Group

11 July 2009

France finished their Group D commitments with a perfect 3-0 record after overcoming Sweden in their last encounter 70-60.

Both teams are through to the Qualifying Round as is Russia who shook off an upset-minded Belarus 96-63 in the second half to go into next Round with a 1-1 record. Belarus will have to play for survival in Division A in the Classification Games.

Belarus managed to hang with Russia for twenty-one minutes before their size and depth took over. 

It started as an up-and-down game with Belarus pressing both full- and half-court and Russia accepting the challenge to play helter-skelter.  Belarus spread the floor and used backdoor cuts to counter the Russian height advantage early on. 

That strategy and Tatsiana Khatsko's early ten points (12 in the game) pushed Belarus to a 24-21 advantage at the end of the first.

In the second quarter, Russia turned the tables on their neighbours making their presence felt in the low post and blocking five shots in the quarter.

10. Darline Sula Nsoki (France)
Sula Nsoki had a solid game for France against Sweden
Nadezda Grishaeva had ten points in less than eight minutes in the second to give Russiaa 37-30 lead.

But Belarus scrapped their way back into the contest, playing a step faster than the Russians till a pair of free throws by Katsiaryna Kashlei (9 points) cut difference to just one point (42-41) at the half.

A Kashlei three-pointer cut the lead to 49-46 at the beginning of the third, but from there on it was all red-and-white. 

Aleksandr Kovalev's squad out-scored their opponents 26-8 to go into the fourth ahead by 21 points (75-54). 

Grishaeva, who led her team with 22 points on 9-for-10 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line, said the key was playing more aggressively and some tactical adjustments at halftime.

"In the first half they would send three of four players when our big players got the ball, so we had to start passing out to our exterior players.  Once we did that, we got better and better," said the forward who also grabbed eight boards.

"The key was playing as a team."

France remained unbeaten in Group D

France went to a perfect 3-0 in Group D play by soundly defeating Sweden by the score of 70-60. 

The French were able to get a ten point lead in the waning minutes of the second quarter and never let go, extending it to eighteen in the fourth.

The decisive run came after Stefanie Yderstrom nailed a three-pointer to keep Sweden within one point (28-29) with four-and-a-half minutes to play before the half.

France then clamped down on the defensive end while managing to keep their shots falling.  Alain Jardel's team went on a 8-0 run, including four points by Darline Nsoki (8 points), to go into the break up 11 (39-28).

Sweden is now 1-2 and has to wait for the result of the match-up between Belarus and Russia to see if they will continue on to the Qualifying Round.

France, once again, played a complete game.  They held Sweden to just 37% shooting and won the battle of the boards by 10 (41-31). 

The French offense was a group affair.  Seven players scored more than eight points a piece. 

Point guard Iris Arrondo led her team with five assists to go with eight points and seven boards while her backcourt partner, Melanie Plust, notched eleven points on 4-for-4 shooting from two-point territory.

Yderstrom kept Sweden it the contest with a game-high 21 points, and she was seconded by Louice Halvarsoon's seven points and six rebounds. 

Halvarsson went down injured in the fourth quarter and was sent to hospital.  

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