Hungary have taken the European Championship for U18 Women by storm after 2 remarkable performances. First up was their triple overtime, buzzer beater over Belarus. Today they followed that up with a 66:64 win over tournament favourites Russia.
Hungarian guard Katallin Honti has made a serious early case for MVP consideration. It was her shot that beat Belarus and key bucket with 45 seconds remaining that proved to be the match-winner against Russia.
“I didn’t expect the victory but we came on the court with the attitude that we will try anything,“ said Honti after the game.
“The key to the win was our teamwork and heart.”
“After the triple overtime win against Belarus and now today, our team spirit is soaring and anything can happen.”
|Russia suffered their first setback against Hungary|
Compared to their previous games Russia looked out of sorts. But despite their seeming lack of concentration, they were still very much in the game.
Trailing by 5 points in the final 4 minutes, Hungary hit 9 of their last 10 free throws and retained the lead, 62:60. Irina Ryukhina scored for Russia to tie, but Honti hit a running jump shot to make the score 66:64.
45 seconds still remained but a missed shot from Russia’s Tatiana Bokareva (23 points and 12 rebounds) gave Hungary possession with 26 seconds on the clock.
Russia pressed but they could not steal the ball and Hungary ran 24 seconds off the clock. Russia had a final chance but with only 1.5 seconds remaining, were unable to even get off a shot.
Co-favourites France also got a mighty scare against Turkey and were fortunate to come away with a win. The game tipped off at 9 o’clock in the morning and most of the French players looked as though they would rather have been in bed.
Turkey led by as much as 12 points in the second quarter and were having one of those days where they could do no wrong. Isil Alben was on particularly superb form for the Turks as she racked up 27 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals in the game.
But what should have been a celebration turned into a nightmare for Turkey.
France worked their way back into contention and both teams had leads down the stretch. In an unfortunate turn of events, it was Alben who missed 2 free throws that have could given Turkey a lead in the final seconds.
Instead, Alben’s misses allowed France to hang on for the narrowest of wins, leaving France celebrating and Alben inconsolable.
While France and Russia suffered setbacks in their form, Ukraine and Spain quietly established their positions in Groups A and B respectively.
Ukraine moved into 2nd position in Group A after an 85:67 win over Belarus, who are the only side in the tournament yet to record a victory.
The championship’s leading scorer and rebounder, Olexandra Gorbunova, did most of the damage for Ukraine. She scored 22 points in a blistering first half display in which she showed that, at 185 cm, she is able to score from virtually anywhere on the court.
Gorbunova finished the game with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
|Olexandra Gorbunova - 28 points against Belarus|
Spain dealt with Israel in an efficient 45:63 win. The Spanish outscored their opponents 24:7 in the 2nd quarter to turn an Israeli 3-point lead into a 14-point deficit. It was enough to allow Spain to run out the game by a margin of 18 points.
Home side Slovakia got their first win of the tournament, 76:69 over Bulgaria. It has been a tough few days for the Slovaks and although they have attracted by far the largest audiences of the championship, they have been unable to reward their followers with a win.
They found their A-game against Bulgaria and made all the running for 30 minutes, leading 61:50 going into the 4th. A nervy 4th quarter allowed Bulgaria to cut into their advantage, but they once again found their touch and closed out the game.
The final match of the day was a showdown between Serbia & Montenegro and Germany with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.
Despite a strong first half from the Germans, it was Serbia & Montenegro who wrested the initiative in the 3rd quarter and built a 12-point lead.
The lead proved to be too much for the Germany and the score finished 78:62 in favour of Serbia & Montenegro, who despite some up-and-down form, still have the potential to win a medal.
Dunja Prcic overcame a poor outing against Russia (4 points) to hit 6/9 three-pointers and lead her team with 22 points. Jelena Dubljevic added 19 points and 13 rebounds for Serbia & Montenegro.