Finns Win With Kojola Three-pointer

07.07.2006

Kira Kojola only scored three points for Finland in the opening game of the OSTCHEM U20 European Championship Women on Friday but oh were they big!

With the shot clock about to expire and just 17 seconds remaining, the 1.77m guard buried a shot from the left corner of the court to give the Finns a 60-57 lead against Greece and that's how it finished.

Kojola, who played 36 minutes, was just one of six from the floor, including one of three from three-point range.

"It was only my points of the game, but it was the most important points," Kojola said. "I am the captain of this team and I knew it was my responsibility to take the shot.

Fia Ohtonen (Finland)
Finnish point guard Fia Ohtonen scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in her team's win.
"Fia (Ohtonen)had the ball and I was yelling at her to shoot because I knew the 24 second clock was going down. When she passed it to me, I didn't have time to think about it. I just had to shoot it.

"This is an amazing and unbelievable feeling. No one expected us to win the game. We proved that we can play basketball in Finland."

Finland took control of the game early in the second quarter, going on a 9-2 run to lead 29-22.

They stretched the advantage to 39-26 before the Greeks reeled off the final four points before half-time.

Anastassia Gkotzi's lay-up with 2:43 to play in the third quarter pulled Greece to within 43-42 and they finally took the lead in the fourth and enjoyed their biggest lead at 55-49 with 6:34 to play.

With just over two minuts to go, Fia Ohtonen nailed a three-pointer for Finland - she had 17 points in the contest - to level the scores at 57-57, and then Kojola struck near the end for the final scoreline.

The Greeks did not execute well after, with Pelagia Papamichail launching a three-point attempt with just one second remaining that missed.

The defeat was tough on Greek star Zoi Dimitrakou, who had 19 points.

Finnish coach Seppo Sonkeri said: "It is not so often that we can beat countries like Greece. There is always this mindset that we can't get past them. I am glad we changed that today.

"We are Finnish and Finns never give up.

"Our goal is to be in the top eight. It won't be easy, but we'll see what
happens."


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