|28 July 2004|
Finland 49 – Russia 81
Thanks to Russia’s loss yesterday to Ukraine, this game was do-or-die for both teams as a win handed the victor the last Quarter-Final place from Group A. Finland were still on an up after a great show against Slovak Republic but after the first 10 minutes today already started to look a little tired. Russia, however, looked in great shape, the key players having not played a lot of minutes against Ukraine.
Jonna Launiainen couldn’t reproduce the form she displayed against the Slovaks and at full-time was 0/9 from the field. Heta Korpivaara and Niina Laaksonen tried to pick up responsibility but in the first half many of their points came from the free-throw line. Russia once again played a tight zone and as Launiainen wasn’t hitting the Finns had trouble combatting the good defence. Russia picked-up a couple of steals towards the end of the first half resulting in easy fast-break points. Guard Marina Karpunina already had 15 points after 20 minutes.
The Russian attack continued in the second half – Tatiana Bokareva dominated inside and her teammates fed her the ball in the paint again and again. The 2nd and 3rd chances picked up from good offensive rebounding coupled with several fastbreaks meant that by the end of the 3rd period the Russians had increased their lead to 20 points.
A 3-pointer on the buzzer from Finland’s Laura Sario kept the margin under 20 for the end of the quarter but it wasn’t to last. In the final 10 minutes Russia continued to score at will from fast-breaks and from inside while Finland kept losing the ball. Russia outscored the Finns 4-18 in the last quarter and had to wait for the remainder of today’s results to find out their opponents in the Quarter-Finals.
Ukraine 80 – Italy 43
Ukraine took care of business in the second game in Vannes, racking up their 3rd win while Italy were again the victims of a heavy defeat.
With the exception of point guard Mariia Shal, who played 40 minutes, coach Maryna Tkachenko rested her starting five and ran her bench players for most of the game. Despite limited minutes, Olexandra Gorbunova still managed to score 16 points, which keeps her well ahead on the tournament top-scorers list. Ukraine held their opponents to 8 points in the 1st quarter and then only 7 in the 2nd , fully establishing their position by half-time.
Once again Italy had absolutely no answers and were completely outplayed. They couldn’t stop Ukraine from scoring and very many of their own chances were wasted or thrown away. No Italian player scored in double figures, although Alice Romagnoli grabbed 11 rebounds. Italy still have a chance to pick up a win in the classification games, however on present form it will prove tough.
For Ukraine, Lada Kovalenko topped the scoring with 19 points in 24 minutes.
Slovak Republic 53 – France 65
With France already guaranteed the first place on the table in Group B, this game was important really only for the Slovaks as they wanted to position themselves as best as possible for the Quarter-Final pairings. The French, nevertheless, wanted to keep their perfect record – the only team to do so at this championship.
Despite a scrappy start, the game eventually got going at the end of the 1st quarter. Both teams made a lots of mistakes and therefore turnovers, but luckily for France their inside players got into a rhythm early and controlled the paint. Elodie Godin finally emerged from where she’s been hiding over the past 4 days and took some great rebounds and made a couple of very nice moves. The Slovaks saw themselves overpowered inside and weren’t hitting well enough from outside to compensate. By half-time France rightly led 20-39.
The small crowd in the Vannes gym really got behind the local team and urged them on in the second half. The Slovaks were left in their wake. Like her Finnish counter-part in the earlier game today, Michulkova couldn’t produce another 30 point game to lead her team to a win, however, teammates Dasa Krasnockova and captain Gabriela Kubatova tried to compensate.
The French team were definitely the stronger of the two sides, however, the Slovaks never gave up and France couldn’t relax and simply cruise home. The Slovaks won the 3rd and 4th quarters but ran out of time before they could really become a threat.
Paoline Salagnac had another good game for the home team, shooting 50% from the field and 100% from the free-throw line, finishing with 16. Gabriela Kubatova answered for Slovak Rep. with 12.
Croatia 58 – Spain 74
Spain were able to salvage a little pride in their last game of the Preliminary Round and will go into the classification games with at least one victory. This has been a disappointing campaign for the Spaniards and they came into this game looking to prove that they still have some fight left.
Both teams looked tired but Croatia had the better start of the two sides and finished the first quarter up by 4; 19-15. Spain picked up in aggressivity and started to push in the second period so that at half-time the game was tied, 31-31, but it was in the 3rd and 4th quarters where they really made the difference. By mid-way through the 3rd they were up 10 points, 43-53. Croatia looked lacklustre while Spain looked much sharper in attack and put in their best performance this week at both ends of the court.
Forward Paloma Palomares was on top form, scoring a total of 27 points. Guard Christina Garcia had a quieter day but centre Aina Denti helped the Spanish effort by pouring in another 20 points. Spain also out-rebounded Croatia 28-20.
Croatia still go through to the Quarter-Finals and will face France on Friday.
Belgium 53 – Hungary 46
Another game, another surprise in Quimper today. Hungary lost the first place positioin on the table as they went down to Belgium in the penultimate game in Group B. For Belgium the end result made little difference as they could no longer qualify for the Quarter-Finals, but still they were determined not to finish without a fight.
It appears that the rest day will be a welcome break tomorrow as again in this game both teams looked really tired and had problems scoring. Belgium took off from the start, however, and soon led 7-2. Hungary came back with a run and the score stood at 9-8 after 10 minutes. The scoring drought continued into the 2nd and although both 6 and 15 stood out for Belgium they couldn’t make a real break.
Again in the 3rd period Belgium couldn’t score and with 2 minutes left Hungary had come back to tie the game 36-36. 7 hit a 3-pointer to keep the lead. But it was then Hungary’s turn to deteriorate as Belgium turned the game in their favour in the final quarter. Hungary missed outside shots one after the other and Belgium were able to pull away, although only minimally. The final score 51-46 and both teams have the right to feel disappointed – Belgium goes on to play in the 5-12th place games and Hungary lose out on the first place in the Group.
Poland 53 – Czech Republic 70
With Hungary out of the picture for first place in Group B, the battle was on in the final game in Quimper for who would finish in the top spot.
The Czechs left Poland little chance and had the game pretty much wrapped up by the end of the 3rd quarter. Both teams played very physical basketball and many of the points on the scoreboard were from the free-throw line due to the high number of fouls.
The first quarter was pretty balanced with the Czech Republic up at the end of 10 minutes. It didn’t take them long thereafter, however, to start to pull away. By the end of the first half the Czechs led by 8, 24-32 mainly due to a great job from Lenka Vetrovkova inside. Poland only avoided a 10 point+ margin at the half by way of a massive 3 pointer from Alexandra Chomac 3 seconds from the buzzer.
The fouling subsided a bit in the second half but the Czechs already had taken a comfortable lead. By the end of the 3rd period the game was effectively over and the Polish team were too tired to make a final effort. The final result 53-70 - the Czech Republic win the group and Poland take third place.
The stage is set for the Quarter-Finals of the Eural Trans Gas European Championship for U20 Women in St. Brieuc and there are some great games in store.
The first game on Friday will see Hungary meet Ukraine, Russia will then follow in a big match-up against Poland. Group B winners Czech Republic will take on their Slovak neighbours in the third game and the day will finish off with Croatia having the unenviable task of playing Group A winners and Championship hosts France.
Stay tuned to fibaeurope.com for all results, stats and game reports.