|Montenegro cruised to an 81-60 win when the two sides met in Round 2, behind a fantastic double-double (25 points and 15 rebounds) by Iva Perovanovic |
Montenegro and Croatia, two sides that have provided plenty of thrills and surprises at this EuroBasket Women will battle it out for fifth place on Saturday in Lodz, Poland.
Montenegro bounced back from their first and only defeat in the tournament, a 56-44 setback against Turkey in the Quarter-Finals, and prevailed against Lithuania on Friday to earn a spot in the game.
On Thursday, Croatia bounced back from their 79-63 hammering by the Czech Republic and beat Latvia to keep alive their hopes of a fifth-place finish.
The winners will avoid having to go through qualifying for the EuroBasket Women 2013 in France and will also receive a place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.
The two teams met earlier in the tournament and EuroBasket Women first-timers Montenegro crushed Croatia, 81-60.
Montenegro coach Miodrag Baletic isn't taking anything for granted ahead of Saturday.
"The fact that we beat them by 21 points in the previous round means nothing," Baletic said.
"This is a big game for the two teams.
"In sport, the past means nothing.
"I expect a very hard game and my team will need to play smarter and better than Croatia if we are to be successful."
Baletic´s side, held to just 44 points by Turkey, re-discovered their scoring touch against Lithuania.
The fabulous four of Iva Perovanovic, Jelena Skerovic, Anna De Forge and Jelena Dubljevic all finished in double figures.
Croatia also got four players in double digits against Latvia.
The usual suspects, captain Sandra Mandir and guard/forward Jelena Ivezic, were accompanied by center Iva Sliskovic and point guard Iva Ciglar who scored a game-high 17 points.
Ciglar was only averaging 3.8 points before that game. The question is if she can repeat this of performance on the offensive end against the hard-nosed backline duo of Skerovic and De Forge.
Head to Head: The two sides met for the first time in Round 2 of this EuroBasket Women, with Montenegro beating Croatia, 81-60.
Last Time Out: Croatia beat Latvia, 84-75, and Montenegro overcame Lithuania, 68-59.
Key Match-Up: Croatia´s Iva Sliskovic vs Montenegro´s Iva Perovanovic. Croatia didn't stop Perovanovic in the previous meeting with the Montenegrin center pouring in a game-high 25 points and corralling 15 rebounds.
Key Stat: Montenegro came up with 16 steals against Lithuania, who turned it over 20 times. Croatia finished 15 of 26 (58%) shooting from inside the arc against Latvia.
X-Factor: Montenegro captain Jelena Skerovic came up with seven steals in the victory over Lithuania. She also contributed 13 points and dished out four assists.
Sounding Off: "For us to have a chance to reach the Olympics was unimaginable heading into this tournament. But we have proved that we have quality and that we deserve to be here," says Croatia captain Sandra Mandir.