By Yarone Arbel
In a game between two very different styles, a defensive French team and a fast-pace offensive team from Belarus, we had one clear winner.
France won the game not only on the score-sheet 72-60, but also controlled the tempo and dictated the style.
France moved to 2-1 in Group F while Belarus dropped to 1-2.
|Anastasiya Veremeenko led Belarus with 15 points and nine rebounds.|
After two easy blow outs, Belarus found some challenge, but it turned out to be too tough to handle.
France's defense matched the athleticism and size of Belarus and limited them to no more than 60 points.
"We didn't play as well as we could have," said Belarus' Natalia Marchanka."France outplayed us in every position, in all aspects of the game.
"They are just a very difficult team to play against.
"We are making history in Belarus, we came out of a very difficult group and we are going to continue fighting."
Anastasiya Veremeenko was the only player on Belarus to score in double-digits as she contributed 15 points - one quarter of her team's total, and didn't miss any of her seven shots from the field.
The 192cm Sandrine Gruda dominated the paint for the entire game.
She finished with 17 points, a little more than two other French inside players who scored in double-digits as well – Sandra Dijon and Emmeline Ndongue.
"It was a difficult game,” said Gruda.
“Belarus plays very well. We knew that defense would be the key. The offense worked for us tonight. It's the first game of the second round, and it was very important for us to start well."
It took France some minutes to adjust to the Belarussian rhythm, as the first quarter was still close.
Katsiaryna Snytsina gave Belarus a 20-17 lead early in the second quarter, before France took over.
France went on a 16-3 run, before Belarus started to hit from the outside led by five points from Nataliya Trafimava , but France still managed to finish the first half up 41-33.
It took France almost three minutes to score their first points in the second half, and by then Belarus was already only four points behind.
Gruda reached double-digits with a jumper to wake her team-mates, and make sure France would continue to hold the lead until the end of the quarter.
Belarus showed great spirit, but didn't get close enough to make their opponent nervous despite trailing by just four after three quarters.
France just waited for the opportunity and once it arrived made the most of it.
Now it was time for Belarus to have a slow start as France pushed the ball to the paint and used a 7-0 run to take a double-digit margin again, 60-49.
With less than three and a half minutes to play Belarus had scored just three points in the quarter.
France still held a solid 10 point lead, enough to enter the last minutes with no worries and collect another win.
Belarus will face Russia on Monday while France will try to be the first team to beat Spain.