Battle Of Unbeatens

15.06.2009

By Joseph Wilson

It's the game everybody has been waiting for, and the only match-up in the tournament between 4-0 teams. 

Undefeated France will take on invincible Russia in the final game of the Qualifying Round to determine which team will get a first seed in the Quarterfinals.

The game will feature the top defensive team versus the top rebounding team in the championship.  Russia hold opponents to only 52 points per game at 33% field goal shooting while France wipe the boards to a tune of 41 per outing, 13 coming off the offensive backboard.

Besides a tough three-quarter fight from Lithuania, Russia has not been seriously challenged in the tournament so far.  Russia has rolled over opponents, winning by an average of 17.8 points per game.  France is another story altogether, having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by three points or less in three of its five wins.

Russia, the reigning champs, go in favourites, but France has shown it has the mettle it takes to win the close ones.

Head-to-Head: Russia beat France 63-59 in the Preliminary Round of EuroBasket Women 2007.

Last Time Out:  France beat Turkey 55-43 while Russia downed Italy 67-59.

Key Match-Up: The battle in the paint.  There is no doubt that both team's strength is their inside game and the lane will be the ground the battle is decided upon.  France's Sandrine Gruda, Emmeline Ndongue, and Isabelle Yacoubou-Dehoui will square off against Russia's Maria Stepanova, Irina Osipova, and Marina Kuzina.

Key Stat:  1-of-5.  That's what Gruda shot from the field in her team's loss in 2007 against Russia. 

X-Factor:  Will Becky Hammon be in a Russian uniform for this game?  If she is, then will she be able to step in and lead a team in desperate need of a point guard who can run the show and cut down on their tournament-high 18 turnovers per game?

Sounding Off: "France is a new team with a lot of young players, but their most important players are Sandrine Gruda and Celine Dumerc.  They are their leaders, and if we can play defense on them and control them, we can win the game." - Russian captain Ilona Korstin on the key to a win.


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