The Quarter-Final Round of the ACI Trading Ltd U20 European Championship 2005 wound up today and the stage is set for two exciting Semi-Finals on Saturday. Two teams, France and Latvia went unbeaten through the Quarter-Final Round and they will match up against Poland and Greece in a bid to make the Final game. Only one team, France, remains unbeaten throughout the tournament.
Spain - Ukraine 76:84
The final buzzer finally confirmed the victory of Ukraine over Spain in a very dramatic game which went end to end, but qualified neither side to the Semi-Finals.
|Tetyana Shchypakina (Ukraine)|
At the beginning of the second half the Spanish team made a few turnovers and as the Ukrainians had stepped up the defence and were concentrated on the fast breaks, they turned around the ten-point score difference within five minutes. Spain kept trying hard to keep pace with attacking Ukrainian team and did not want to give up hope of a victory. They kept on fighting until the end but the hard work wasin vain.
Three stand-outs for Spain were Mafalda Gonzales, Marta Gines and Noelia Otero. From the Ukrainian team Olexandra Gorbunova had 30 points and 13 rebounds, Anna Pokoiova and Lada Kovalenko both added 18 points each.
Jordi Fernandez (Spain): "We managed to get a ten-point lead in the first half but our players could not sustain the pressure of our experienced opponent. We made many mistakes due to which we lost the lead. But they did their best to turn the score which brings them recognition."
Maryna Tkacenko (Ukraine): "We were bad in defence and insecure for not being able to score under the basket area in the first half. In the middle of the second half we changed our tactics, gained certainty and we were accurate in shooting as well."
Croatia - Latvia 57:77
For the first half of this game the Latvians appeared to have gone missing; they did not concentrate at all on defence during the first five minutes and they made several mistakes in passing and shooting. The Croatian team skilfully made use of their opponents’ problems and pulled away to more than a ten-point lead.
|Anita Teilane (Latvia) |
Coming back fully motivated after the break, the Latvians kept going and quickly equalized. The second half was marked by big plays under the basket from both teams but the Latvians were better in rebounding and shooting. They took the lead at the end of the third quarter and kept on increasing the margin in the final 10 minutes.
The Croatians became more and more nervous, all their powers were reduced to nothing by the Latvian defence in such a way that they were hardly able to score.
Linda Mrdalj (Croatia): "I am shocked and I do not know what to say. We were in lead at the end of the first half and we lost in such a big score difference."
Ainars Cukste (Latvia): "The first half was bad but then we concentrated ourselves, tightened up the offensive game and we got the Croatians where we wanted them to be."
Poland - France 67:75
In the fight for first position in Group F both teams put on a dynamic show- a game full of fast breaks which many spectators suspected was a trial run for the Final. The Poles eliminated the attacking power of their French opponents by excellent, precise defensive play. Their promising four-point lead was, however, lost before the half-time break due to senseless mistakes.
|Florence Lepron (France)|
Roman Skrzecz (Poland): "We did very well in the first half and our defensive tactics could be labelled as very efficient. We were, however, beaten by more mature France that made better use of its pivots in the second half. France certainly belongs among the main favourites of this championship. We will do our best in semi-finals and maybe we will meet today's competitor once again in Sunday’s Final."
Francis Denis (France): "This was surely a first-rate game with an interesting charge. In the first half we were not very successful in offence, in the second half of the match our tactics was changed, we were making use of pivots and our competitor had bigger problem in defending us. Towards the end of the game the Poles did very well and I am happy that we were successful in keeping the lead."
Italy - Greece 61:64
The results from previous matches gave this game a simple meaning; whoever won would go through to the Semi-Finals. The Italians, who lost their previous game against Croatia by only a one-point difference, had a nervous edge at the beginning of this game. Nevertheless, five minutes were enough for them to wake up, quicken their fast breaks and give the game some combinatory accuracy.
|Benedetta Bagnara (Italy) |
Their first promising lead 18:12 at the end of the first quarter was lost due to a technical foul on the bench. Greece took the advantage of this lapse and took the lead for the first time in the 13th minute, thanks to a three-point shot from Eleni Vlani (18:19).
The Italians were quick to punish any mistakes from their opponents and pulled away again but even a nine-point Italian lead after the half-time did not break the spirit of the fighting Greek team. Italy started to miss open shots and Greece took a one-point lead 56:55 three minutes before the end. Chaos reigned in the Italian game and they could not turn the result around.
Roberto Abate (Italy): "I cannot recover from this defeat. Getting to the semi-finals was within our reach. But after the promising beginning our players got nervous and we missed the end of the game."
Dimitris Bakongeorgos (Greece): "I am happy that we were not psychologically beaten by the large Latvian defeat. The same way we resisted the Italian lead in the first half. I encouraged our players to fight. We tightened up our defence and the right result came about. The qualification to the semi-finals is the sweetest reward for our great performance."