Hosts Hungary are already through to the Quarter-Final Round of the U18 European Championship Women in Budapest after a close win over Italy this evening. In a thrilling finish the Hungarians held off a last-ditched attack from their rivals to ensure a place in the Quarter-Finals starting on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Italy, a win tomorrow will still not help them to make through to the next round.
Italy had a dismal start: they needed over five minutes before they scored a basket, by which point Hungary were already 14 points ahead. Turnover succeeded turnover and Italy coach Maurizio Fregerio despaired at his team’s lack of discipline. Hungary took advantage of their opponents’ mistakes and cruised ahead, Viktoria Vincze and Dora Horti taking the lead.
|Benedetta Bagnara (Italy)|
The next 30 minutes saw Italy chasing their way back into the game while Hungary worked hard to hold off the charge. Benedetta Bagnara was by far the standout on the Italian side; she finished with 30 points despite poor 2-point shooting and leads all tournament scorers after two days, averaging 28.5 ppg. Italy had pulled back to within one point, 55-56 with three minutes left and kept the margin to a minimum until the final seconds.
Thanks to noisy support form the home crowd, Hungary dug deep and hung on for the win, Vincze and Dora Szondy hitting vital free throws as the clock ran out.
In the other Group A game, Slovak Republic also made sure of qualification by out-gunning Turkey 66-56. Turkey had the better start and led until mid-way through the second period before the Slovaks pulled themselves together and pulled away.
From half-time onwards there was no looking back for the Slovak team and the Turks could not narrow the 10 point margin. Dila Askin topped for Turkey pouring in 20 points while Saynur Tozlu grabbed 17 rebounds. Katarina Fialova double-doubled for Slovakia, scoring 16 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.
|Tina Eggert (Germany)|
France’s all-round team game was excellent and they remain possibly the toughest team to beat.
Germany’s Tina Eggert and Anne-Christine Görg had 12 points apiece.
Serbia & Montenegro had little trouble taking care of Poland in the second game. They won easily 79-66, having taken the lead from the first minutes and never relinquishing. Adrijana Knezevic again looked strong, today putting up 16 points on the scoreboard.
Germany and Serbia & Montenegro will now face up in a do-or-die play-off for the final Quarter-Final spot from the group.
Group C saw two very close games leaving the group with a potential thriller play-off for the last day. Bulgaria pipped Croatia 57-56 to keep their chances open of further qualification. Bulgaria had by far the better start and still led by 10 points at the end of the second period, however Croatia charged back to go ahead at the end of the third. The final 10 minutes saw Bulgaria pull away again - Croatia tried to come back again but time ran out.
|Jaklin Zlatanova (Bulgaria) |
Elena Gogiya again played a deciding role in Russia’s one-point defeat of Lithuania. She had 19 points and 13 rebounds as Russia held on for the 63-62 victory. The game went end-to-end from the first minute, with the lead changing hands several times but it was Mariya Korovkina who hit the deciding 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to hand Russia the victory. Russia now go through to the Quarter-Finals.
There were no surprises in Group D: Spain won an easy game over Greece 77-51, securing themselves a place in the Quarter-Final Round, while Czech Republic rolled over Belgium, 95-66 also on their way to the next round. The Spanish and Czech teams meet on Sunday to determine who will top the group rankings at the end of the Preliminary Round.