|Raisa Musina (4) and Viktoriia Zavialova showed strong performances in the final for Russia|
Turning Point: Russia led the whole game, but the Czech team scrapped to stay within touching distance after a slow start. The deficit was only nine at half-time, but the Russian defence restricted the Czech Republic to one field goal in the third period to push the lead past 20, and the Czech team could not recover.
Game Heroes: Tournament MVP Maria Vadeeva didn't have things all her own way in a fascinating battle with Czech star Julia Reisingerová, but her 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks capped a stellar tournament. Daria Kurilchuk made a host of big shots on her way to 15 points, and Raisa Musina added 16 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists.
Stats Don't Lie: The Russian team gave up only 44.8 points per game throughout the tournament, and the Czech Republic suffered at the hands of that stifling defence with only one made shot from 15 attempts in the third period as Russia broke the game open.
They Said: "I am proud of my girls, especially because I have worked with a lot of them for the last seven or eight years and seen them grow up. It was a big part of my life. I really hope that most of these girls will become big players at senior level. Every girl puts maximum effort on the court, which is very important. It's also vital that we have such a strong support staff and my great coaching team - Sergei Danilin, Iuliia Tokareva, and the physical coach who could not attend the championship. It's amazing, I'm happy for all of them and proud of the team." - Russia head coach Anna Arkhipova Von Kalmanovich
|Maria Vadeeva was a dominant inside force for Russia throughout the tournament|
Russia capped a glorious tournament by adding U16 gold to their victory in the U18 European Championship Women. They were flawless in their march to glory, winning all nine matches with an average margin of victory of almost 34 points.
The Czech Republic fought hard in their attempts to win their first ever U16 gold, but they were not able to challenge. The effort was there, but Richard Fousek's team was clearly aware that they could not afford to make many errors - an awareness that can, of course, plague a team's psyche, as they play with a nervous frantic energy that only propagates mistakes.
The Russian team, on the other hand, were sure of their abilities and played with a steady calmness. Musina drove inside to open the scoring before Kurilchuk drilled a pair of three-pointers that led to an early Fousek timeout.
Reisingerová was anxious to attack inside but too often forced wild shots. Natálie Stoupalová eventually found her in deep post position with a nice entry pass to open her account, and Stoupalová then picked off a Russian pass into the post to find Adéla Neubauerová in transition for a three-pointer as the Czech team started clawing their way back into the match.
Musina began to impose herself on the game, scoring off a nice feed from Tatiana Kazakova after a strong offensive rebound before converting on a nice spin move inside. Then she grabbed a steal in the post with great anticipation, and she was rewarded on the other end as Ksenia Sharova found her for a short jumper to put Russia up 19-13.
The match-up between the star forwards started to ramp up as Vadeeva matched Reisingerová's footwork inside to reject her drive, with Reisingerová recovering well to return the favour on Musina at the other end.
|Kamilla Ogun's drives to the basket helped Russia win the gold medal|
Kamilla Ogun came on and, as she has done throughout the tournament, helped to inject an effective change of pace. She combined first with Sevara Nuritdinova to get an open look inside before profiting from a Vadeeva block to drive inside in transition as the Czech bench struggled to match their counterparts.
The Czech team was handed a boost at the end of the first quarter as Michaela Krejzová recovered another Vadeeva block and fed Aneta Váchová, who flipped up a shot from two metres behind the arc which swished home to bring the Czech Republic within seven.
Nuritdinova came back by knocking down an open three at the start of the second period as the teams traded blows. Stoupalová blocked Ogun, and Reisingerová twice rejected Vadeeva and then Ogun again, but Musina repaid the Czech team with an emphatic flying block of Lucie Hosková. Russia inched further ahead during the second period, taking a nine-point lead into the locker room.
But things quickly got out of hand in a brutal third quarter. Kurilchuk nailed another long bomb and then chased down Hosková for a spectacular block before Viktoriia Zavialova finished a tough drive inside to extend the lead to 16.
Reisingerová had another stylish block on Ogun, but Musina scored off the resulting inbounds as Czech heads sank, and Kurilchuk scored on a put-back before nailing another open three to push the lead to 21, and the Czech team was left with no chance of coming back in the final period.