The Latvians felt like they were in a bad dream at the beginning of today’s first Quarter-Final Round game. They had a hard time scoring in the first five minutes and they made mistakes in defence.
The Greek team took advantage of the defensive gaps left by their opponents and attacked well. This brought them an early nine-point lead 12:3, however, the Latvians began very slowly to wake up from the nightmare and they succeeded in narrowing the difference to two points after fifteen minutes (18:12).
Towards the end of the first half the Latvian side really made a push with zone defence, going on a 13:2 run which actually opened the door to the eventual victory.
After the half-time break, Greece dropped away, helpless in dealing with first-rate Latvian defence and their random shots often did not even touch the rim. In the end of the game the Greeks were able to pull back a little in order to correct the final score. Nevertheless, forty points is the lowest score achieved so far at this championship.
Ainars Cukste (Latvia): "We did not do well at the beginning of the game; I had to encourage the players to be more active and aggressive. Our good zone defence brought about the breakthrough and we turned the score. We played well at the end but we certainly do not feel to be favourites of the finals. That position is still a long way off."
Dimitris Bakongeorgos (Greece): "What can I say to comment on today's performance? We did not play at our own pace and five minutes before the end of the first half and five minutes after the break we totally dropped off. We were tired after yesterday's great performance against Croatia."
The final horn definitively confirmed a happy one-point victory for France in what had been a very tough match-up against rivals Ukraine. In a dramatic finish Clarisse Costaz hit an enormous three-point shot to give the French a five-point lead 83:78 with one minute left. Despite 4 stright points from Olexandra Gorbunova, the Ukrainians could only come close but they lacked time for a complete turn around.
The beginning of the match was not nearly so exciting as the tournament favourites France were soon up 10:0 and then 15:3 and the one-sided game appear to be already decided. Then Ukrainian head coach Tkačenko pulled the communication cord and her team started a zone defence. Suddenly, the once-dominant French had serious problems.
The Ukrainian team was able to narrow the score difference especially due to phenomenal shooting from Gorbunova who played the whole game and scored 34 points. Ukraine were even up by two points (67:65) in thirty-third minute but lack composure to see the victory through to the end. Nerves took over, especially in one-on-one situations and the French were able to re-take the lead and the game.
Francis Denis (France): "We did well at the beginning of the game, then the Ukrainians started to play better in defence. Even if our point of interest was defence as well we did not find good shooting positions so often. We still do not take into consideration reaching the final after two victories in the Quarter-Finals, however. Everything is still wide open. All players are now tired and their real qualities are about to be seen. Our advantage is a deep team but in these games only the best are given a chance."
Maryna Tkacenko (Ukraine): "This time we were only one step away from the victory. I am still thinking about what we have done wrong. Maybe we missed more composure at the end of the game. Even if we lost I have to appreciate our players' performance and above all their fighting spirit."
This game was very close right from the beginning as both teams had problems getting past the well-organised defence tactics of their opponents. The Croatians got nervous in the second quarter and made a few mistakes and their Italy took the lead. The Italians were much better than Croatia in grabbing offensive rebounds and also in playing tougher defence.
The Croatian team lacked teamwork and speed on the fast breaks, although after half-time they strengthened their defence, guarding key players of their opponent very well and thanks to precise shooting took the lead after five minutes.
Italy kept trying hard and succeeded in lowering the difference of the score to one point many times. The Croatians, however, managed to turn the score back around in their favour every time. Italy pulled itself together towards the end of the game; there was only a one-point difference two minutes before the end but then the Italian team made so many mistakes which decided the final result.
Italian players who stood out were Benedetta Bagnara (18 points) and Kathrin Ress (18 points and the most gained rebounds). The Croatians were relying especially on Mirna Mazic (15 points) who picked up the most rebounds as well (7).
Roberto Abate (Italy): "I am very disappointed. It was a very important game for us. Our players were fighting with the highest commitment and a one-point loss is especially bitter."
Marko Blace (Croatia): "It was a very important, tough and demanding match. The girls did very well and we are happy."
A great performance bolstered by an early twenty-point lead ensured the Poles a one-sided victory over Spain in the final game of the day. Only the opening ten minutes were close as the Spanish team was hot from outside, hitting three-point shots. Aina Denti coped well with the Polish zone defence in the early minutes, shooting well from outside. Spanish guard Gemma Garcia was very well guarded and she couldn’t find any scoring positions except for two free throws in the first half.
In the second quarter the Poles took the Spanish team apart through a combination of quick fast breaks and good use of the pivots inside and half-time had taken lead of twenty points.
Coming back after the break, the Polish team slackened off a bit giving bench a chance at more court-time. The game stayed in Polish hands but the difference in points stopped growing.
Roman Skrzecz (Poland): "Again, I have to praise our performance in defence but we were successful in offence as well. Apart from that we made perfect use of under-the-basket players. We have not been thinking about the finals so far, we are concentrating on the subsequent match with France which will be very difficult."
Fernandes Sanchez (Spain): "Our competitor was successful in eliminating our main threat Garcia and taking her out of the game. After the turnover of the ball we had a very difficult role taking into account that we were losing by twenty points. We had problems with quick Polish defence, we had a hard time in entering shooting positions."