Sweden reach first ever semis

14 August 2008

Sweden were not pretty but got the job done, reaching their first ever semi-finals of the Termosteps U16 European Championship Women with a 62-52 victory over Lithuania.

Farhiya Abdi poured in 20 points and Amanda Zahui added 11 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks as Sweden took second place in the Qualifying Round Group F to set up a semi-final date with undefeated Spain.

Binta Drammeh chipped in 13 points and Mia Hakim swiped eight steals and hit two important three-pointers for Peter Johansson's team, which improved to 3-2 in the group.

Lithuania dropped to 0-5 in the group despiite 19 points from Santa Okockyte, 11 points and five assists by Neringa Skadaite and nine points and 11 rebounds from Monika Grigalauskyte.

Amanda Zahui (Sweden)
Amanda Zahui (Sweden) had 11 points and 14 rebounds

Abdi gave Sweden a quick 5-0 lead before the offense went cold, making just one of their first 12 shots. Luckily for the Swedes, Lithuania had no answer offensively. Grigalauskyte made two foul shots for the first score after 3:25 played. But Zivile Mikalauskaite's team missed their first 10 shots from the floor and committed six turnovers before Skadaite converted a three-point play with 2:28 left for a 11-5 deficit. Sweden led just 12-7 after one period. Salome Kabengano's three-pointer and two more baskets from Abdi left Sweden ahead 19-8. But Johansson's girls continued to struggle on offense and watched Skadaite make two lay-ups and Okockyte knock down two triples in a 14-0 surge for a 22-19 Lithuania lead. Abdi ended the drought and Drammeh's triple gave Sweden a 26-22 lead at the break.

Sweden scored the first seven points out of the locker-room and did not allow Lithuania to score in nearly three minutes until Okockyte's three-point play made it 33-27. Hakim stepped up with two three-balls and Zahui hit three baskets as Sweden were finally in a groove and the lead was up to 12 points and 45-35 after three periods. Sweden upped the advantage to 13 points before Okockyte and Kornelija Valiuskyte knocked down triples to trim the margin to 50-41 with seven minutes left. But Sweden turned up their defense one more time and forced a series of turnovers for a 10-0 run over five minutes to close off the victory.


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