France Edge Out Serbia In Semi Classic

24 August 2013

U18 WOMEN

5. Marine Johannès (France)
Marine Johannès' clutch shooting proved game winning for France

Turning Point: Marine Johannes has taken the limelight with her three-point shooting, but it was a beautifully executed lean-back jump-shot with 22 seconds left that effectively won the game for France.

Game Heroes: Marie Mane finished with 15 points from a credible 6-of-11 shooting performance whilst Mousdandy Djaldi-Tabdi grabbed 10 precious rebounds.

Stats Don't Lie: The 13 steals by the French were important, since 20 turnovers really did hurt Serbia in such a close contest.

France will get to defend their U18 European Championship Women title in the showpiece game after edging out Serbia 62-60 in an engrossing, nerve-tingling and dramatic semi-final clash in Vukovar.

Last years' gold and bronze medallists served up an absolute classic, in terms of pure intensity and intrigue.

However, France showed the composure to execute in crunch time to silence the hundreds of Serbian supporters who had roared on their team throughout.

The reigning champions started strongly and threatened to jump into an unassailable lead when they moved 20-8 clear and into the box-seat.

But Serbia belatedly grabbed a foothold in the contest and 30 seconds before half-time, they completed an impressive comeback when Aleksandra Crvendakic locked the game up at 31.

The excellent Dragana Stankovic even put Serbia into the lead at the start of the second half, but defences began to dominate. France then looked as if they may have broken clear at 57-50, but once more Serbia responded.

A three-pointer by Coda gave them a 60-59 lead with 30 seconds left, but Johannes then showed ice running through her veins with a big clutch shot.

Branka Lukovic missed two free-throws for Serbia and then after Louise Dambach got one to drop to put France two points clear with three seconds left, the Serbians could not get the score they needed to force overtime or grab a thrilling win.

It was a pity either team had to lose and certainly it was particularly tough on Stankovic who was terrific and claimed 21 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks before fouling out down the stretch.


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