|Elin Eldebrink and Sweden matched their best-ever EuroBasket Women finish|
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: After Italy had rallied in the wake of their disappointing first half to catapult themselves back into contention at 45-42 in the third quarter, Sweden put their foot on the pedal and raced away again with a decisive 13-0 scoring run.
Stats Don't Lie: The normally reliable perimeter game of Italy deserted them and they could only manage 27.8% from behind the three-point line.
Game Heroes: Elisabeth Egnell finished with a super double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Elin Eldebrink posted a handy 12 points and six assists.
Back at EuroBasket Women for the first time in 26 years, Sweden signed off with a convincing 77-60 success against Italy in Orchies, to take seventh place and match their best ever finish in the competition.
With both teams left distraught after the double whammy of failing to make the semi-finals and then missing out on a place at the FIBA World Championship for Women next year in Turkey, it was pride that was mainly on the line as their French adventure came to an end.
Sweden went for the jugular early, building an 18-7 lead and it wasn't long before they had doubled the tally of their opponents at 22-11.
Italy needed a lift and still down by 10 points approaching half-time, they cut the arrears in half at 43-38 with an and-one play by Giorgia Sottana.
But, Sweden had the last say of the opening 20 minutes, with a basket by Frida Aili to extend their superiority.
Whilst Italy made it a one-shot game shortly after the re-start, Sweden found the extra gear and got stronger as the game petered out to take revenge for their loss against Italy on the opening day.
And, having shared a similar roller-coaster pathway throughout the tournament, both teams showed their mutual respect afterwards, with head coaches Lars Johansson and Roberto Ricchini paying tribute to each other for taking their sides to the last eight of the competition.
Italy Player Ilaria Zanoni:
"There are not many things to say, they deserved to win, they started more agressive. We knew them, we had already played against them, we knew they are a good team. Against a team like Sweden you cannot start as soft as we started."
Sweden Player Louice Halvarsson:
"I feel so good for finishing this tournament with a win... We really did a great job. I am really proud of my team because this is the first European Championship since 1987 and we did a good job on defence and offence today."
Italy Roberto Ricchini:
"I want to say that Sweden interpreted the game better than us. They were psychologically better prepared than us, they were stronger with more energy and we were not able to be as competitive as them. I am disappointed for finishing the tournament this way, but we kind of surprised ourselves with making it so far. We are on the right way for our future. The same goes for the Swedish team who are on a similar path."
Sweden Head Coach Lars Johansson:
"Congratulations to Italy on their tournament, we started together in the group of death and I think it was a great thing to be competitive. I also want to congratulate my players because I am extremely proud of them, it was a great experience and we are going to learn very much about it."