In a game that came down to the final minute, France were able to beat Croatia and start this year's U16 European Championship victorious. France outlasted Croatia with 79-74.
Guard Olivia Eqoupa scored 24 points and collected 10 rebounds. It was also her who delivered the decisive actions in the closing minutes of this thrilling game. First Eqoupa stole the ball and went for the crucial go ahead basket (72-70). Shortly after that, her four free throws ultimately sealed the victory for her country (79-74 final score).
Before Eqoupa and her teammates were able to clinch the win in the opener of Group B, they had to battle all game long against a tough and resilient Croatian team.
After a close first quarter (20-23) France seemed to be able to increase the lead at first. Croatia had other plans and were able to take the lead. Ana-Marija Begic scored in the low-post (39-36) and the team of Head Coach Zeljko Ciglar even made it a five point game at halftime (41-36).
In an exciting contest France increased the defensive pressure in the third quarter. A successful move that helped them retake the lead. Croatia struggled and fell back to 47-59. At the end of the third quarter, they still trailed by six points.
Croatia did not waste any time in the fourth period and made a strong push to reclaim the lead themselves. Lana Packovski drove hard to the baskets on every single opportunity, which caused big problems for the French side. Packovski tied the game and delivered an assist to Begic for the 70-68 lead. France tied the game again before Eqoupa's steal and fastbreak lay-up changed the momentum in favour of France.