|Maria Fasoula recorded an impressive double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds|
Greece started and finished strongly to earn a 63-52 win over hosts Bulgaria in their opening Group A encounter in the U16 European Championship Women.
In front of a raucous crowd the Greek team began well, pressuring their opponents full-court and forcing multiple turnovers.
Bulgaria struggled to deal with the size of the Greek team too, with many missed shots resulting in second chances on the offensive boards as Maria Fasoula in particular dominated.
The second half saw fortunes reverse as the Bulgarian team began to find ways to be effective in a frenetic, physical match.
Anna Radenkova's fearless drives inside spurred the team forward and Debora Filipova took up the charge, pushing the ball off a series of Greek misses to first tie the game and then set up Gabriela Nikolova to put Bulgaria ahead. Ivona Ilieva's drive and short jumper capped a wonderful second quarter for the home team.
The pace of the intense match-up slowed a little in the third quarter as sharp-shooting became a valuable commodity. Evgenia Kollatou hit two three-pointers for Greece but Filipova replied with three deep shots of her own, before Chrysoula Kilazidou tied the game with a long-distance effort.
Kollatou nailed another three to begin the final period, and Zafeirenia Kariafti grabbed a great offensive rebound and putback before Garyfallia-Paraskevi Ntanou's block and fast-break lay-up, which capped a 12-0 run for the Greek team.
The fans tried to encourage one last effort from their team but it was not to be. Filipova's 15 points led the Bulgarians, but Fasoula's impressive double-double proved too much (21 points and 14 rebounds, plus six blocks), with help from Kollatou (18 points and 6 steals) and Kilazidou (11 points and 7 assists).