By Paul Nilsen
|The mood on the Belarus bench would certainly go up with a win over Sweden and qualification to the World Championship for Women|
Having made it to the quarter-finals but eventually coming up short, Sweden and Belarus now go up against each other for the highly significant prize of taking the last remaining place at the FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey next year.
Last Time Out: Belarus had a defensive straightjacket zipped tightly around them by Turkey, who shut them down completely to take a 55-41 win. Sweden could barely have played better as they lost a tearjerker to France by 87-83 in one of the most entertaining and high-quality games that EuroBasket Women has witnessed in the modern era.
Key Match Up: Katsiaryna Snytsina is definitely an ‘X-Factor' player for Belarus. She is the one player who can really get hot and make some big shots outside of the paint. Therefore there will be a big onus on Elisabeth Egnell to take care of her defensively if Sweden move away from a zone. Perhaps Ashley Key will also be asked to keep an eye on her. Conversely if this is how things pan out, Syntsina must get out to Key quickly on the three-point line and try to stop Egnell getting those precious offensive rebounds.
Key Stat: Sweden are a much better three-point shooting team than Belarus, with 42% compared to just 28.8%.
X-Factors: The respective approaches to defence are going to be entirely compelling in this
|Elin Eldebrink and Sweden must pick themselves up quickly after a tough loss and much on the line|
game. Belarus would probably prefer a zone, because of their personnel and maybe that is just too dangerous an option with such a perimeter threat posed by Sweden. Meanwhile the Swedes are the opposite and would probably prefer to play man-to-man, but may be tempted to sit in the same effective zone which almost worked against France during their last heartbreaking outing. But, just like in the Italy versus Czech Republic game who also lost their respective quarter-final games, it could come down to mind-games and who can pick themselves up off the canvas mentally to get the job done.
From The Camps: "First of all we need to have rest and the girls have to calm and fight for their place at the FIBA World Championship for Women. They must mentally prepare themselves for this game. The mental health of players is the most important thing - whatever time or days the players have to play. Sweden are a serious rival for us. They got a spot in the top eight, so we respect this team. They are disciplined and play very well on defence, so it will be a difficult match." Belarus head coach Rimantas Grigas.
"We have got the opportunity to qualify for the FIBA World Championship for Women for the first time so it won't be had for us to find energy and to reload for this game." Swedish center Katarina Andersson.