By Joe Hewison
|Jovana Rad and Serbia are facing Group D winners Belarus|
Last Time Out: Serbia showed nerves of steel to hold off a late Latvian charge and take a 62-56 win to reach Round 2. There was no such strain for Belarus who were able to rest their starters in a meaningless 72-67 defeat to Lithuania, having already secured qualification with two routine victories.
Key Match-Up: The point guards could be pivotal in this game. Aliaksandra Tarasava has done a great job of controlling Belarus's offenses so far, dictating the pace and feeding her frontcourt as well as scoring herself when required. It will be the job of Serbia's Tamara Radocaj to disrupt that rhythm while also stepping up to knock down the big shots, as she did the first round.
Tarasava was the only one of Belarus's starters to play more than 10 minutes against Lithuainia (23) as her deputy Natallia Anufryienka got into foul trouble. But this shouldn't be a problem for the pacey playmaker.
Key Stat: Belarus were the best defensive rebounding team in the first round, pulling down a total of 101 boards from their opponents missed shots. But this is where Serbia struggled, recording the lowest total of any team in the tournament at just 60.
X-Factor: Anastasiya Verameyenka is the top shot blocker in the tournament with nine. But even when she doesn't quite get her hand on the ball, she forces opponents to adjust their approach, sometimes in the air, and discourages smaller players from entering ‘her' paint.
From The Camps: After the win over Lithuania, Belarus Head Coach Rimantas Grigas, said: "Because this game meant nothing we put emphasis on working on problems and we will see the result of this in the future rounds."
When asked what Serbia need to do in the second round, Maljkovic, said: "Playing in the European Championships, against the best women's teams, a team really does have to be a team. All individuals must play together as a collective. That's a great lesson for my group and women's basketball in my country."