Referees: Paolo Taurino (ITA), Igor Poljansek (SLO)
Hungary Surrender Huge Lead, Then Qualify In Overtime
Hungary prevailed 72-62 in overtime at Croatia on Saturday to narrowly clinch a place in next year's EuroBasket Women.
In a thrilling final day, the Hungarians improved to 5-3 and edged out Ukraine in the race for the best third-place team in the four groups on a goal differential tie-breaker.
Croatia slumped to 2-6 with the defeat.
The last few minutes of the contest had the spectators on the edges of their seats.
Hungary's Zsofia Fegyverneky tied the game at 60-60 with 22 seconds left in regulation by making one of two free throws.
Croatia called timeout and when play resumed, the hosts had a chance to win at the end but Marta Cakic had her attempt from three-point range blocked by Hungary's Anna Vajda to force overtime.
Once in the extra period, Hungary's Orsolya Englert buried a three-pointer and Fegyverneky followed with a jumper to put the visitors on their way to a famous triumph.
They outscored the Croatians 12-2 in overtime.
Fegyverneky made three of five shots from long range and finished with 20 points to lead Hungary, who also got 17 from Nóra Bujdosó.
Hungary appeared to be in total command of at half-time when they led 45-26.
Croatia battled back and trailed 52-40 at the end of the third and then held Hungary scoreless for the first 5:41 of the final quarter.
Hungary, because of that drought, fell behind 53-52 after a basket from Luca Ivankovic and the lead changed handed six times before Fegyverneky tied the game with her free throw.
Ivankovic had 12 rebounds to go with her seven points for Croatia.
Quotes Croatia vs. Hungary
Nenad Amanovic, Croatia coach:
"Even though before the game we already knew Romania lost to France, we were not unmotivated for this game. But still we played unexpectedly bad in the first half, Hungary was far more aggressive, which is understandable because they had a lot more to play for. But, we did not give up in the second half and manage to erase the deficit. We even had a shot to victory, but we did not convert it. In the overtime we ran out of energy, and the Hungarian team knew how to use it to their advantage."
Jelena Ivezic, Croatia player:
"We managed to get back in the game even though we were trailing by 19 points. In the second half we played more aggressive on defense and limited Hungary to only 15 points in 20 minutes. Still, they were better in the additional five minutes and they deserved to win."
Laszlo Ratgeber, Hungary coach:
"It is hard to understand how we dropped the huge advantage we had after the first half. At the end we aimed for overtime because we were aware that was the only way we would be able to obtain our goal. With extreme hustle in the end we manage to create the margin we wanted and we accomplished our goal, and that is qualifying to the EuroBasket."
Diana Furesz, Hungary player:
"We got ourselves in an unpleasant situation, but in the end we found the way out of it. I was not at all nervous while shooting the two free throws at the end of overtime. We could of course have done it a lot easier; regardless, we still have a lot of reasons to be satisfied."