In the first day of the Quarter Final Round at the ACI Trading Ltd U20 European Championship Women, the top eight teams made their first pitch in the battle for a Semi-Final spot. As all first four games were dead tight, every side will need to fight for every point over the next two days to make it to the next round.
Latvia : Italy 66 : 61
Apart from a brief spell in the first quarter when Benedetta Bagnara put the Italians ahead, Latvia had this game under control, above all thanks to a very well-organised defence which barely allowed their opponents to find any open shots.
The Italian team kept pushing really hard and a few times they succeeded in reducing the margin to only one point. Thanks to Zike and her 29 points including 4/5 three-point shooting, the Latvians were always able to hold on to the lead and break away again.
Still the Italians didn’t give up and narrowed the difference to only three points (57:54) three minutes before the end of the game. The Latvians stepped up their tactical game, however and all Italian hopes of victory were dashed as their opponents pulled away again for a ten-point lead. In the last second Battisodo scored a three-pointer which could only narrowly change the final result.
Ainars Cukste (Latvia): "I consider the victory over Italy very valuable. The result was decided due to our defensive play that did not lack discipline. The Italian team is immensely strong, playing without lapses in concentration, and their victory over Russia was noted with respect."
Gianni Lambruschi (Italy): "I am disappointed that we did not repeat out performance from the last game against Russia. The day-off did not do us well. We did not guard three-point scorers Zike and Dreimane as we should have. They scored eight baskets in the final minutes which were to be decisive."
Ukraine - Poland 80:92
The Ukrainians kept pace with their competitors for twenty-five minutes and well into the 3rd quarter the game was still tied 49:49. However, in the final period the more aggressive Polish team started to dominate and overcame its Ukrainian opponents through more offensive rebounds and tough defence.
|Katarzyna Krezel (Poland) |
Maryna Tkachenko (Ukraine): "We were very slow in returning to defensive positions and therefore we left too much space for our opponent. The Poles were playing a more organised game and moreover we were not successful in finishing. Gorbunova was guarded perfectly this time and had a hard time dealing with limited space."
Roman Skrzecz (Poland): "We did very well in defence. We managed to eliminate Gorbunova’s dangerous shooting - she scored only sixteen points this time. Apart from that we played cautiously in offence. That was the foundation stone of our success."
Croatia - Greece 49:51
Both teams played a very close game from the beginning and both had problems dealing tactically with the very tough defence of their opponents.
The second half saw Lady Luck finally smile on the Greek team as they were able to hang on for the close win, despite a hard battle inside the paint for much of the final minutes. Lolita Limoura, was great for the Greeks, playing 40 minutes and scoring 17 points and joined by her team-mate Soultany Chalivera who played almost 35 minutes and grabbed 9 rebounds. The same number of rebounds was pulled down by Croatian Mirna Mazic who scored 16 points.
|Lolita Limoura (Greece) |
Dimitris Bakongeorgos (Greece): "It was a very important match for us. The girls put up a tough defence and even if we made some turnovers I am very satisfied."
Linda Mrdalj (Croatia): "The difference by which we lost was very small and these cases are the bitterest ones. But I cannot reproach our players with almost anything. They had an ultimate fighting spirit but this is how it sometimes works in sport."
Spain - France 77:81
In the first half the French were playing with a lot of nerves; they had problems with concentration and their fast breaks lacked certainty. The Spanish players made use of their opponents’ mistakes, played tough in defence and were very active in running the fast breaks. Thanks to good shooting from Marta Ginez and great rebounding by Aina Denti, the Spanish team took a twelve-point lead in the first half.
Coming back after the break, the situation changed, however. The French players started to concentrate better, they picked up their defence and shooting and during the third quarter they pulled back to equalise the score. Dominant at both ends of the court was Julie Barennes who scored 31 points for the French outfit. Both teams played tough under the basket but it was the French team which left this close match as the winner.
|Julie Barennes (France) |
Jordi Fernandez (Spain): "It was a very difficult game, we did our best and we lost very closely. Moreover we will pay tomorrow because we will be tired."
Francis Denis (France): "We totally lacked defence in the first half; we are not used to having 47 points scored against us in the first half. We pulled ourselves together in the second half and we won. We are happy."