The Czech Republic continued their unbeaten run at the U18 European Championship Women in Budapest this evening with a hard fought victory over Spain which placed them at the top of their group at the end of the Preliminary Round.
The 71-61 victory over their Spanish rivals sent out a clear message to their Quarter-Final opponents – the Czechs mean business.
|Silvia Dominguez (Spain)|
The Czech Republic tried to pull away but Spain improved their game and fought back to take the lead shortly before half-time on a three-point-play from point guard Silvia Dominguez. The Czechs answered and went ahead again only for Patricia Arguello to hit a huge 3-pointer with 3 seconds left to narrow the margin to one point at the half, 31-30 for the Czech Republic.
Coming back after the break the game stayed very tight for the first minutes, but then Spain’s efforts in the first period began to take their toll and the players tired. The Czechs moved up a gear in both offence and defence and slowly began to broaden the gap. Tereza Peckova was impressive inside and Spain had a lot of trouble containing her in the paint. She finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
|Katerina Hindrakova (Czech Republic)|
By mid-way through the final period the Czechs had built up a comfortable 10-point lead which they easily maintained as Spain appeared not to have the energy to fight any more. Forward Katarina Hindrakova had a great scoring night putting away 19 points for the Czech Republic. Silvia Dominguez’ 24 points and Patricia Arguello’s 20 were not enough for Spain.
Belgium beat Greece 64-50 for 3rd place in closely fought and an emotionally-charged evening match-up. Both sides played tough defence and Belgium only managed to pull away in the final minutes.
In the other groups, hosts Hungary finished the Preliminary Round with a win over Slovak Republic, 78-65, which delighted the home crowd who had piled into the Ferencvaros gym and puts them unbeaten at the top of the table in Group A.
Forward Judit Fritz had another great scoring night for the Hungarians, pouring in 26 points, mostly from fast breaks, while Dora Horti added 15.
|Judit Fritz (Hungary) |
Turkey managed their first win of the tournament, beating Italy 85-75. The Turks managed to keep Benedetta Bagnara to only 11 points whereas Saynur Tozlu topped the scoring with 16, also pulling down 14 rebounds. At the end of the Preliminary Round, Turkish point guard Gizem Yavuz leads the Championship on assists, averaging 5.7 per game.
Group B’s highlight was the Serbia & Montenegro v Germany face-off for qualification to the Quarter-Finals. Germany put up a great effort in the first two quarters, refusing to allow Serbia to pull away until late in the second period and matched their rivals on rebounding for the full 40 minutes.
Serbia & Montenegro were simply the better and stronger team, however, and in the second half really began to dominate. The Adrijana Knezevic/Miljana Musovic duo proved too much for the Germans, both scoring 22 points, and soon the Serbs had taken an irreversible lead. The final result 74-56 and Serbia & Montenegro go through.
Anne-Christine Görg put up another double-double performance for Germany, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. She was aided by teammate Margret Skuballa who added 15 points.
France faced little difficulty in their final Preliminary Round game against Poland. They won 91-76, Jennfier Digbeu putting up 21 points and 11 rebounds and Sandrine Gruda hitting another 22 points.
In Group C, Croatia finished the first round with a win over Russia, 65-62 after an exciting and well-played game. Sadly it was too late for the Croatians as even today’s victory couldn’t prevent them from going out of contention, however, coach Dean Nemec was much happier with his team’s performance. Emanuela Salopek and Lucy Ivankovic led the scoring with 18 and 17 points respectively.
|Antonija Misura (Croatia)|
Group C’s decider was far less exciting – in a very turgid game, which was riddled with turnovers, Lithuania beat Bulgaria 66-57 to take the second Quarter-Final Round spot from the group. Lithuania took the lead early and kept a firm hold for most of the game. Elge Sarapaite led all scorers with 20 points.