Netherlands, FYR Macedonia Claim Narrow Wins


The Netherlands and FYR Macedonia each claimed thrilling victories on the opening night of Division B action in the EuroBasket Women.

The Dutch won 83-81 at Slovenia after an amazing comeback in the fourth quarter  when they outscored Slovenia 27-10.

The Netherlands' Leonie Kooij sank two free throws and then made a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 77-77.

Myrthe Beld then split a pair of free throws to put the Netherlands on top.

The visitors went in front by three points but Slovenia ended up with a chance to force overtime after Naomi Halman converted one of two at the line for an 83-81 Dutch advantage.

With one second remaining, though, Slovenia's Katarina Ilijev missed two free throws.

Kooij poured in 23 points and Halman scored 21 while also grabbing nine rebounds for the Netherlands.

Maja Erkic had a game-high 31 points in defeat for Slovenia.

Also in Group A, Iceland rolled to a 68-53 win over Switzerland and Montenegro defeated Ireland 68-56.

In Group B, the Macedonians edged Estonia 67-64.

The game was knotted at 62-62 when the home side reeled off five straight points to take command for good.

FYR Macedonia's Bojana Samardziska had 15 points and six rebounds, and she said: "We knew that we had to leave our hearts on the floor and we did it.

"It was a great fight, and I am glad that we turned out to be the winners."

Meanwhile, Estonia's Laina Mesila spoke of the disappointing result.

"We struggled to adjust to the conditions," she said, "but this is not an excuse for us.

" Macedonia played well in the decisive minutes."

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