By Paul Nilsen
Another towering display of 23 points and 16 rebounds by forward Brigitta Barta wasn't enough to prevent Hungary from falling to a crushing 74-54 loss to Russia and being dumped into the Classification round to fight for their Division A status.
While disappointing, it left Hungary coach Ezster Debreceni bemoaning her lack of inside presence to support her star player although she also claimed that Barta still had some improvement to make, despite her big numbers.
"We lost against a very strong Russia team and had a good first half but we can't do anything about this now and have to look to re-build."
"I know that we have learnt a lot from this game and maybe if we had another more stronger and experienced player inside with Brigitta Barta then maybe we might have been able to do more."
"Brigitta is a good player but has to do a lot herself. I don't agree that she is necessarily one of the best players in the tournament as I think like any young player, she still has many things to learn."
"Now it is important for us to focus on staying in Division A and winning our next games."
Hungary went into the game knowing that only a win against unbeaten Russia would be good enough to make it to the Qualifying Round but things looked ominous in the first few minutes of the game as Russia moved into a 7-2 lead.
However led by the strength inside of Barta, they then produced a 9-0 run to move 11-7 ahead. It was an advantage that they held on to by the end of the first quarter when they were 24-17 up and dreaming of a shock win.
As Russia made a move with a 6-2 spurt, Hungary then finished more strongly, Barta looking unstoppable and ending the half with her team 34-27 ahead and having secured a stunning first half double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Russia could have thought about a strategy to stop Barta in the second half but it was their all round game they needed to improve and they certainly did that as in the second half of all of their previous games.
Within four minutes they were level thanks to a triple by Galina Kiseleva and an inside score by Ksenia Tikhonenko who made it 39-39.
Russia visibly picked up defensively and moved the ball much better while at the other end, their defence had improved and now it was Amadea Szamosi rather than Barta who was keeping Hungary in the game with some tough moves.
Having drawn her side level, Tikhonenko made two free throws to give Russia their first lead of the second half with four minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Russian center also had a job to do defensively with Barta posting up ominously but that duel was put on hold as Coach Arkhipova Von Kalmanovich took one of her prize assets out of the game for a deserved rest.
Not that this mattered as Russia were slowly highlighting their depth and team approach with all their players contributing as evidenced by their nine scorers and willingness to work hard all over the court.
Hungary were definitely still hanging around and they certainly needed to if they wanted to assure their Division A status. However they were finding it difficult to break down the Russian defence with Barta managing only 1 point in the period.
It suddenly looked like their hopes were fading away as Russia completed a 9-0 burst to finish the period 50-43 ahead.
While Barta scored with a tough move to start the last ten minutes, they found themselves 54-47 behind and any hope looking slim but a triple by Dora Koch gave renewed hope. It proved to be a false dawn as Russia focused on penetrating to the basket or getting the ball inside to maintain their stranglehold on the game.
Hungary could find no way back as Russia marched on unbeaten and that also meant that the Czech Republic and Greece now head for the Qualifying round.