3 of the 6 games played today at the European Championship for U18 Women were decided by 4 points or less, headlined by Hungary’s 86:84 defeat of Belarus after 3 periods of overtime.
Katalin Honti proved to be the match winner for the Hungarians. She played all 55 minutes of the game, scored 23 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 7 assists and came up with 4 steals. She saved her best effort for last and her last gasp bucket gave Hungary the victory right at the buzzer.
At the end of regulation the score was tied at 62 apiece. Overtime number 1 provided Hungary with a chance to win, but Honti’s last second three-point attempt was wayward.
In the second overtime it was Belarus’ Viktoryia Pantsiukh who held her nerve. She hit 2 free throws with time winding down to send the game into the third extra period.
In what turned out to be the final period, there was once again little to separate the teams. Belarus led by 3 points, 84:81, but Hungary’s Nikolett Somogyi tied the game and Honti provided the finishing touch.
Hungary move into second place in the group while Belarus’ chances of qualifying to the quarter-finals have all but evaporated.
Israel experienced the joy of winning in overtime yesterday against Slovakia. Today they were on the opposite end and suffered a 72:68 defeat to Bulgaria in a desperately close game.
The score was close throughout and with 1 minute remaining, Bulgaria led 69:68. Israel had a chance to go ahead, but Shiran Zairy blew a lay-up attempt and on the next possession Israel was forced to foul to stop the clock.
Ekaterina Dimitrova made 1of 2 from the line, but 9 seconds remained for Israel to attempt to tie or go for the win. In yesterday‘ game against Slovakia, Karin Agassi was the hero. She stepped up again to try to win the game for her side, but her 3-point attempt fell short.
|Russia's Ekaterina Savelyeva had 23 points and 14 rebounds against Serbia & Montenegro|
In the third thriller of the day’s action, Spain survived a determined effort from Turkey to win 80:78. The Turks faced a deficit of as much as 19 points in the second quarter, but gradually kept chipping away at the Spanish lead.
They got to within 2 points but ultimately their efforts were not rewarded with victory and Spain move to second place in Group B while Turkey fall to fourth.
The most-anticipated match-up of day 3 in Bratislava was the meeting between Russia and Serbia & Montenegro. Russia have looked imperious in their opening 2 games, and while Serbia & Montenegro had dropped a game to Ukraine, they still promised to give the Russians a run for their money.
After 20 minutes of action, that is exactly what they did as they battled Russia to a standstill, 37:36 at halftime.
But just as it looked as though Serbia & Montenegro would mount a serious challenge, the Russians stepped up their game. They produced an awesome 3rd quarter display in which they tallied 30 points and left their opponents in their wake. It was simple hard graft that gave the desired effect and Russia went to work on the offensive boards. They managed to grab a total of 9 offensive rebounds in the quarter which they converted into 14 points.
When they weren’t scoring on put-backs, their presence on the defensive glass allowed them to launch wave after wave of fast-breaks.
After the onslaught had finished, Russia led 68:46 and the game was over. Serbia & Montenegro had no fight left inside them and the score finished 90:62.
While the Russians have confirmed themselves as co-favourites (along with France) for the title, Serbia & Montenegro find themselves in near crisis and face a must-win game tomorrow against Germany.
Fellow favourites France had yet another easy outing against home side Slovakia. France controlled the game from the buzzer and never looked like they were less than 100% in command. They cruised to an eventual 79:46 victory.
Last but not least, Ukraine recorded their second victory in a row, this time over Germany. The Germans have struggled with their rebounding in the tournament and today was no exception. The Germans had a torrid time against Ukraine’s Olexandra Gorbunova who grabbed 23 rebounds, including no less than 14 offensive boards. Gorbunova also added 24 points in what was a dominant display.