Sweden Set Sights On Second Major Scalp

26 June 2013

14. Louice Halvarsson (Sweden)
Louice Halvarsson will face a tough challenge under the basket, facing France's Emmeline Ndongue and Isabelle Yacoubou

By Paul Nilsen

Having already found a memorable win in the First Round against Russia which led to the defending champions being eliminated from the tournament, Sweden are now searching for another famous upset when they face France in the quarter-finals of EuroBasket Women 2013 in Orchies.

Last Time Out: France made it six wins from six games, grinding out a 58-50 win against Belarus. Sweden produced their most unconvincing success of the tournament as they squeezed past the Slovak Republic with a 75-72 victory.

Key Match-Up: Swedish center Louice Halvarsson will go up against Emmeline Ndongue and Isabelle Yacoubou under the basket and this will be critical. In defence, Halvarsson will need to be more aggressive to contain the power of Yacoubou, who is playing with real confidence and a smile on her face. At the other end of the floor, Ndongue is the defensive anchor for France and Halvarsson is going to have to really work hard to take advantage of any decent looks and snap up any offensive rebounds. Halvarsson has worked tirelessly for the team since arriving in France, but hasn't shot the ball as well as she is capable of. However, her best game was against a talented Russian frontcourt, so now would be a good time to repeat that level of performance.

Key Stat: Whilst a mismatch on paper in terms of expectation and reputation at Final Rounds, there are few enormous statistical differences between the teams. Interestingly, the stat which differs the most actually works in favour of the Swedes, since they shoot 38.7% from the perimeter compared to the abject 23.7% of France.

X-Factors: It was no secret before the tournament tipped off that France would have one of the best frontcourts in the competition, but may struggle to find the shooters to propel them to the gold which everybody expects - and so it has proven. Relatively conservative in their approach taking into account their talent, France are just as happy to pound the ball inside and grind out low-scoring wins if needed. That's because they have the players to execute in crunch time and always back themselves to make fewer errors than their opponents. Sweden meanwhile must continue in the same vein - staying focused, being aggressive and playing their brand of physical and high tempo basketball. Defensively, they may mix it up, although a zone may be favoured. They will probably have to rebound as a team which they did so well against Russia. The biggest ‘X-Factor' could be how well Sweden are able to get those precious defensive boards, push the pace and get the ball down the floor. It will be fun if they really try to outrun and outgun the French. Especially since, should France prevail, that is exactly what fellow medal contenders Spain and Turkey will try to do - if they also advance to the last four.

5. Endene Miyem (France)
Endene Miyem knows that the hard part for France begins with the knock-out games

From The Camps: "We will have to get a lot of rebounds from different players as we are normally smaller than our opponents. Giving up 19 offensive rebounds [against Slovakia] was too much. We will focus on rebounding for the France game." - Swedish head coach Lars Johansson identifies one of his main priorities.

"We knew it had to be a good game [against Belarus] to win and prepare for the rest of the competition. Now the hard part begins, because we no longer have room to miss. We are certainly on the right track, but it is not finished and we have to continue to play with heart. I want to say that the main opponent in these remaining games is actually ourselves." - Endene Miyem feels success rests very much in French hands.


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