|Lisa Berkani sealed the final result for France, securing a spot at next year's U17 World Championship for Women|
Turning Point: With time running out and trailing by one point, Lisa Berkani was in the corner with Maria Vadeeva looming over her. Her nimble footwork ensured a shot attempt and Vadeeva was whistled for a foul. Berkani made both shots, and Olga Frolkina's final effort rimmed out.
Game Hero: Berkani and captain Ornella Bankole were inspirational, but Ana Tadic led a fantastic frontcourt effort from the French team, pressuring the Russian post players on defense and adding 14 points on offense.
Stats Don't Lie: France shot 100% (9-9) from the free-throw line, and they needed every point to secure the win.
Lisa Berkani drained two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to give France a 62-61 win over Russia and take 5th place at the U16 European Championship Women.
The victory also gives France the last European place at the 2014 U17 World Championship for Women, joining the four semi-finalists here and the hosts of that competition, the Slovak Republic.
In a thrilling finale, Evgeniia Frolkina's three-pointer with 2:16 remaining broke a 56-56 tie. Berkani made her first clutch free throws for France's next score, and Ornella Bankole took a Russian missed shot quickly down to the other end to put her team 60-59 ahead with a tough lay-up.
Maria Vadeeva worked in the post and got a pass out to Alina Bespaltseva, who drained a short jumper to give Russia a 61-60 lead with 13 seconds remaining. Berkani's clutch shots put France back ahead, and Bespaltseva's last effort bounced hard off the back rim to seal France's victory.
The match was competitive and thrilling throughout, with 10 lead changes and no team leading by more than seven points. Ana Tadic, Alexia Chartereau and Bankole led the fight aganst Russia's imposing frontcourt of Vadeeva and Raisa Musina, and Chartereau opened the scoring with an outside shot before Tadic showed her finesse in the post to make two early scores while displaying her toughness on defense too, blocking a shot to seal a shot-clock violation against the Russian team.
Vadeeva was proving a worthy opponent though, drifting into space regularly to grab offensive rebounds or create passing lanes. Evgeniia Frolkina found her under the hoop to open Russia's account, and Vadeeva scored nine of Russia's first 11 points before blocking Bankole on a drive.
French coach Julien Egloff went to his bench to look for different impacts, and Alexandrine Obouh Fegue and Aida Sow made useful contributions for the team. Obouh Fegue created havoc on the boards, and Sow forced a steal off a Russian defensive rebound which ended with Berkani providing a gorgeous assist for Sow to finish.
Bankole's drive led to a three-point play to give the French a 20-16 lead, but Bespaltseva's jumper halved the deficit at the end of the first quarter. Daria Kurilchuk's three-pointer in the second period put Russia ahead, but France responded as Chloe Mantelin (twice) and Chartereau also connected from long-range. Vadeeva's offensive rebound and put-back cut the French lead to four, 33-29 at half-time.
Bankole picked up her third foul early in the second half and sat, but Musina had been struggling all game and left the game too. She would not return and Russia needed a different approach, with Olga Frolkina hitting a three-pointer after Maria Bardeeva's offensive rebound. France responded as Tadic kicked out to Berkani for a three, and Berkani hit another jumper to give France a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Berkani returned the favour to Tadic with a cheeky post-entry pass through the legs of an opponent, but Russia fought back and tied the game when Vadeeva picked off another entry pass and ran the floor before feeding Bespaltseva. Tadic took on Vadeeva with a great running hook shot but Vadeeva responded with another offensive rebound, setting up the frenetic finale.
Tadic led France with 14 points and five rebounds, while Bankole also had 13 points and five boards. Berkani finished with 11 points, four steals and three assists. Vadeeva had 18 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks for Russia.