Russia Into Gold Medal Game

26.07.2008

Russia will return to the final of the U18 European Championship for Women for the first time since 2004 after edging out the Czech Republic 62-60.

Tatiana Petrushina coolly sank two free-throws with 12 seconds left to play to break a 60-all tie and propel Olga Shuneykina's side to Sunday's decider.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic will meet France in the third place game.

After the game, Russia's head of delegation Sergey Fedorenkov revealed that the two semi-finals went according to what had come to be expected.

"On Tuesday, I was talking to a member of the Lithuanian delegation and he said: ‘It would be a great game if we met in the final'. I saw him after Lithuania beat France and he told me: ‘Do you remember what we said earlier this week? Go and do your part," he said.

"This is a great result for us and we look forward to playing what will be a fantastic final for all to watch and for the players involved."

Petrushina led Russia with 16 points and eight rebounds and Alexandra Tarasova had a strong game too with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

The Czech Republic put on a strong second-half performance to erase a 35-28 half-time score and get themselves in contention down the stretch.

Katerina Zavazalova spearheaded a run of nine unanswered points to open the third quarter as Romana Ptackova's girls took a 37-35 lead. The Russians though answered right back and used a 10-1 spurt to restore their seven-point advantage, 45-38.

The Czechs closed to within four on occasions the rest of that period but really made their move in the final frame. Alena Hanusova hit a pair of free-throws and Katerina Bartonova made two baskets in a row to tie the game at 54 all with under six minutes left.

And the Czechs kept it going as they jumped in front, 60-58, on Renata Brezinova's three-pointer with 2:18 to go.

But Petrushina closed the game out in style for Russia. She tied the game on a pair of free-throws with about a minute left and repeated the feat in the game's closing seconds.

Petrushina and Tarasova combined for 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Russians took a 35-28 lead at the break.

The Russian girls went on a 7-0 run to lead 17-8 on Petrushina's three-pointer late in the first quarter as the Czech Republic were made to play catch up. They did did just that in the second quarter, thanks to Brezinova's strong drives to the basket.

The Czechs were within one, 22-21, after the centre converted a three-point play midway through the period. However, Russia were able to pull away again as they brought on 2.03m Liubov Paskalenko - the tallest player in the tournament - and the move worked to perfection as she contributed six quick points to help her team re-establish a seven-point lead before half-time.
Brezinova had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Czech Republic, while Pavla Svrdlikova added 11.

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