Russia, Czechs Remain Perfect

12 July 2008

Russia out-classed Bulgaria in the second half to win 83-50 and book their second straight victory at the U20 European Championship while the Czech Republic also remained perfect in holding off Latvia 65-56.

Olga Zhuzhgova's 13 points led four players in double figures for Russia, who gave up just five points in the fourth quarter while forcing 20 Bulgaria turnovers in the game.

Natalia Zhedik, Irina Romanova and Yulia Lukina all added 10 points for Alexander Kovalev's team, which advanced to the qualifying round with Group C victory in Sulmona.

Bulgaria were paced by 11 points from Dimana Georgieva.

The game was tight until Maria Tzankova knocked down a three-pointer followed by a three-point play by Dimana Georgieva for a 14-10 Bulgaria lead. Russia bounced back with the next six points though the Bulgarians led 16-15 after one period.

Russia gained a slight control of the game, taking advantage of better execution at the offensive end in opening a 34-27 lead on Olga Petrova's three-pointer. A triple just before the half-time buzzer by Jaklin Zlatanova cut Russia's cushion to 36-32 at the break.

Georgieva's basket to open the second half made it just a two-point game. And it was 41-39 two minutes into the second half when the Russian reeled off a 10-0 run which Romanova started with a triple and completed with a three-point play for a 51-39 margin. And Kovalev's team built the lead to 62-45 after three periods.

A number of turnovers allowed Russia to pull away in the fourth period as Russia demonstrated their class.

Czechs use late run to pull away from Latvia

The Czech Republic also notched their second victory to pull into sole possession of first place in Group B with a 65-56 win over Latvia.

Andrea Ovsíková tallied 17 points and six rebounds as the Czechs grabbed control of the game late in the third quarter and held on in the fourth. Eva Mrhalkova and Aneta Obrusníková both added 11 points for the Czechs.

Latvia, who dropped to 1-1, were once again led by 17-year-old sensation Sabine Niedola, who collected 17 points and 11 rebounds. Baiba Eglite added 13 points for the Latvians.

The Czechs started stronger in the game, opening a nine-point game at 15-6. It was 17-8 before the Latvians closed to 18-14 after one period.

Niedola scored the first five points of the second quarter to push Latvia ahead 19-18. The game went back and forth and the Baltic nation led 35-34 at the break. The Latvians were able to remain atop for most of the third quarter until the Czechs scored the final seven points to move ahead 52-47 going into the fourth.

Marian Svoboda's team proved more efficient on offence, helped by two three-pointers by Obrusníková, the second of which gave the Czech Republic a 63-53 advantage with four minutes to play.

The Czech defence buckled down and stopped the Latvian attack on five straight possessions to decide the game.


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