|Gabriela Marginean was the driving force in Romania's victory over Sweden, scoring 26 points.|
Gabriela Marginean made sure Romania had a dream start to their EuroBasket Women Qualification Round campaign by pouring in a game-high 26 points in a 66-59 victory over Sweden.
The 25-year-old forward played nearly 37 minutes of the Group D encounter and was indispensable, making seven of 14 shots from the floor and 10 of 12 at the free-throw line.
Sweden edged into a 37-33 advantage by half-time with Frida Eldebrink pouring in 14 of her team-high 22 points but Marginean gave Romania a perfect start to the third quarter.
She nailed a three-ball that ignited a 9-0 run and gave the hosts a 42-37 lead.
Marginean had seven of the points in that spurt.
The Swedes are supposed to be a growing force in Europe and they continued to battle.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Danielle Hamilton split a pair of free-throws and Agnes Nordström followed with a three-pointer for a 51-49 Sweden lead.
The visitors had no answer for Marginean, though.
She scored five of her team's next seven points as they went on top, 56-51 with 4:20 to go.
The closest Sweden would get the rest of the way came with 1:12 to play after Eldebrink was fouled by Annemarie Parau.
The Swede sank just one of two attempts to close the gap to 59-56.
Parau, a 1.70m guard, went to the other end and connected from behind the arc for a six-point advantage with 46 seconds to play.
Victory was assured when Marginean immediately intercepted a pass by Eldebrink, drew a foul and sank two free-throws.
Sweden Guard Elin Eldebrink
"It was a very tough game, as tough as any qualification game. I'm very dissapointed, especially for myself. Anyway, there a lot of games therefore and we have to move on, we have to forget the game against Romania."
Sweden Head Coach Lars Johansson
"Romania did a really good job today. We had a good defensive game but we couldn't find our offensive rhythm, and this was the key of he game. Now we have to concentrate for the home game against Spain."
Romania Forward Gabriela Marginean
"The first game is always very tough. Today we had a sixth player helping us: our fans. The public was great and helped us a lot. We played pretty well, but we could have played better and we hope we'll prove this in our future games."
Romania Head Coach Dan Fleseriu
"We've expected to have a tough game against Sweden and the emotions of the beginning were obvious in the first two quarters. In the second half we improved our defensive game, and payed more attention in the offensive. I want to congratulate my team for this victory."