By Yarone Arbel
The second day of the quarter-finals was, as usual, full of good news and bad news.
The big defense of Spain, the up and down of Maria Stepanova in the win over Lithuania, the total control of Russia under the rims and the two aspects that didn't work for Belgium against Spain.
The Good News
Stepanova's Ups and Downs - Stepanova wasn't at her best against Lithuania. Just like Russia for two and a half quarters she struggled and wasn't 100% focused. With 4:06 to play in the third the 176cm Sandra Valuzyte took an offensive rebound and scored easily under the long arms of Stepanova to give Lithuania a 49-50 lead. Following that play the Russian star went to the bench and Irina Osipova came in. That was the last time Lithuania
had the lead. Russia went on a 10-0 run and never looked back. In the last quarter Stepanova came back in, scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds to secure the Russian win and show once again why she's such a special and unique player.
|Kathy Wambe and Belgium struggled shooting the ball against Spain.|
Spain's Defense on Wauters – The cold numbers will tell you Ann Wauters finished the quarter-finals match with Spain with another big double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, but the little details will tell you more. Spain made this game very uncomfortable for Wauters. After four games in a row shooting more than 60% for two-point range she dropped to 45.5%. She was so uncomfortable inside that she went beyond the arc three times to shoot (all in the first quarter), and that's the number she combined in all her last four games. Only one team, Germany, managed to do the same job in this tournament. Add to that four turnovers, one and a hald more than her average, and you will see why Wauters' double-double isn't quite what it seems, and why Belgium eventually lost by 19.
The Bad News
No Rebound – One of the main reasons Lithuania couldn't match up with Russia was the rebounding. Russia has dominated in the rebound category all tournament but rarely on the offensive glass. They averaged only 10.5 before the quarter-finals, but against Lithuania they pulled down 21 boards on offense. The total number of defensive rebounds for Lithuania was no more than 23. More or less every second miss of Russia was followed by a second chance and that went on from the first to the very last moment of the game.
Belgium Lost Their Head – Belgium stepped into the quarters as the team with the fewest turnovers per game. Just to show how much better this aspect of their game was, they made 23 turnovers against Spain but still lead that category with only 13.7 tpg. The worst part was that out of those 23 turnovers 19 were steals by Spain, which led to quick and easy points in the fast break.
Belgium Lost Their Hot Hand – Another aspect that Spain managed to eliminate is the hot hand of Belgium. Coming into the game they were the team with the best three-point percentages, but last night they hit only three out of 12 shots.