Slovak Republic 83 – Finland 74
Both teams really needed the win this afternoon to ensure themselves a place in the Quarter-Finals, however, it was the Slovak Republic who came away with the extra 2 points on the classification table. Both will face a tough game on the final day of the Preliminary Round - Finland play Russia tomorrow while the Slovaks will take on France.
Today the Slovak Republic had a disasterous start going down 9-25 after 10 minutes. In contrast, Niina Laaksonen and Heta Korpivaara did a great job inside for the Finns and Jonna Launiainen looked good from outside. It was a hard graft but the Slovak team pulled back in the second by picking up the defence and also getting a couple of nice fast-breaks.
Finland started to lose concentration and with it they lost the ball again and again and with 2 minutes left before half-time Slovak Rep. had reduced the margin to 4; 32-36. Luisa Michulkova was hot for the Slovak team, scoring 16 points in 10 minutes. Finland were able to reply to reply with a couple of outside shots right before the break and kept themselves ahead 37-42 at the half.
Each side came out after the break fired up and firing from outside. The game quickly became a Michulkova – Launiainen showdown with each player taking responsibility and leading her teammates at both ends of the court. Michulkova finished today with 32 points on 11/16 and 3/5 shooting. For her part, Launiainen shot 7/16 3-pointers and 3/5 from inside the arc, ending on 28 points.
At the end of the 3rd Finland still led by 3, but with 35 minutes played the Slovaks had turned the score around and were in turn up 3; 66-63. Michulkova gave one last push and the Finns had no answers. The end result 83-74 but this was certainly not a 9 point game.
Russia 62 – Ukraine 71
Ukraine took Russia by surprise in the second game in Vannes, and with it have almost guaranteed themselves a Quarter-Final spot.
Russia started well and led at the end of the first quarter 20-19. From then on, however, it was once again Ukraine’s Olexandra Gorbunova who dictated the tempo of her team and that of the entire game. Playing with only 6 players, Ukraine went ahead in the second and kept the advantage even though the Russians were much better inside and picked up several 2nd chances thanks to good offensive rebounding. Ukraine started answering from outside and the Russian zone wasn’t quite quick enough to get out to the 3-point shot. The first half ended 30-38 with Gorbunova scoring in the last second, picking up after a missed basket.
Russia made a run in the 3rd period, Marina Kuzina and Svetlana Makhlina doing most of the damage. Gorbunova and teammate Ohla Krasnikova started hitting bombs from downtown but it wasn’t enough to stop the Russians from coming back to tie the score after 30 minutes: 47-47.
The 4th quarter started tight but very soon Gorbunova took over. She was unstoppable hitting everything form outside and within 4 minutes Ukraine was again up by 6. Three minutes later, and following a rain of 3s, Ukraine had a 10 point margin and cruised to the final buzzer.
Olexandra Gorbunova had her lowest scoring game so far, with 27 points. She leads all scorers by far, on an average of 29. Joining her today was Krasnikova with 14 points and 9 rebounds and Olena Savina with a 12 point, 12 rebound double-double. Marina Kuzina answered for Russia with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
France 89 – Italy 32
France kept their unbeaten record and did it in style, completely annihilating Italy on their way to a point win. Italy had nothing to lose, but still their pride took a real bruising as after the first quarter they had only scored 4 points, and that was from 100 per cent shooting from the free-throw line.
Italy were quite simply overrun. France were faster, stronger and smarter and had total control of the game from start to finish. All 12 French players received at least 10 minutes playing time and 4, Paoline Salangnac, Julie Legoupil, Amélie Pochet and Penda Sy scored in double figures.
By half-time the French had already stretched the gap to over 30 points, 46-15 and it was only thanks to 2 3-pointers from Scanzani and Fumagalli that the Italians could keep it under 40 after 20 minutes.
The second half saw no change as France romped their way to the win and Italy hung their heads. France stay top of Group A, whereas Italy remain in last place.