The Slovakian women's team claimed a hard-fought 76-71 overtime victory over Croatia on Wednesday - their third win out of three in Group B - to move a step closer to qualifying for the European Championships.
|Zuzana Zirkova had 27 points in the overtime thriller against Croatia|
Guard Zuzana Zirkova was in unstoppable form, and her 27-point haul helped the hosts overcome a 12-8 deficit after a nervous first quarter, to battle back to go 47-41 up at the end of the third.
However the Slovaks allowed Croatia back into the contest late on, and the outstanding Sandra Popovic, who top scored with 29 points, helped lead an offensive onslaught to take the game into overtime with the score locked at 66-66.
Slovakia then regained their composure to secure the win to leave coach Jozef Resetar a relieved man.
"I would like to say that Croatia is a very good team with a good organised style in defence and offence," he told www.basket.sk.
"Our opponents played a good defence against us so our shooting percentage was low. We had chances to win this game in the final minutes of regulation but Croatia showed their power.
"We lost possession in this part of the game and we had to foul. We nearly lost the game because of these mistakes but we had more luck than Croatia in overtime."
Even if the performance at the end of regulation was not up to scratch for the coach, Resetar was aware that getting the right result was crucial.
"This third win is very important," he added.
Croatia coach Viktor Kovac said: "We were not favourites for this game but our aim was to win.
"We lost but at least the final result made me happy because the score could be important in the end of this qualification.
"We had two problems today - Zuzana Zirkova and her performance in the second half, and turnovers. We lost 26 balls today and that is too much.
"We lost this game because of these two factors."
Next up for Slovakia is a home clash against Ukraine in Bratislava on Saturday, while Croatia face Latvia in Porec on the same day.