Bulgaria Start Strong


By Simon Wilkinson

Stefka Nikolova hit six of 10 three-point attempts to lead Bulgaria past Belarus 69-62 at the U18 European Championship for Women.

The 18-year-old guard finished with a game-high 26 points and also added six rebounds and four assists.

Nikolova and team-mate Aleksandra Kancheva got Bulgaria off to a great start as they were on top 22-14, but Belarus used a 6-0 run at the end of the first period to keep the game close, 22-20.

Mariya Filonchyk spearheaded the spurt for Alaksandr Shymkaviak's side, who continued their brilliant play, scoring seven more unanswered points early in the second quarter to take a 27-22 lead.

Bulgaria though recovered and were back in front by six, 43-37, at the half before extending that advantage to 10, 56-46, heading into the final period.

Filonchyk again helped her side stay in the game as they closed to within five, 58-53 early in the final frame, but Nilokova was jut unstoppable as she hit her sixth and final three-pointer with 3:25 left to play, to give Bulgaria a comfortable 69-56 cushion.

Filonchyk finished with team-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds for Belarus. Veranika Valeuskaya chipped in with 17.


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