|Iva Perovanovicand Kathrin Ress will provide a fascinating tussle in the paint|
By Paul Nilsen
The EuroBasket Women 2013 landscape has been undulating for both nations and their destiny has come down to the last second round game, with both desperate to claim the victory that could propel them into the last eight.
Last Time Out: Italy went on the rampage in the third quarter against the Slovak Republic, garnering a 58-47 success. Montenegro are seeking to avoid a third straight loss, after following up their reverse to Sweden with a 66-50 defeat at the hands of Spain.
Key Match Up: Iva Perovanovic and Kathrin Ress looks to be one individual battle worth watching. Both have had up and down performances so far, arguably reflecting the pathway of their respective teams. Perovanovic probably had her best individual outing of the competition against Spain, whilst Ress had her worst against them. Both are very important players under the hoop and are actually two of the best three players on the offensive glass in the competition.
Key Stat: After five games of the tournament, both teams have the exact same number of rebounds per game at 35.6, which is actually among the worst of all the remaining teams. Can either side gain an uplift in rebounding performance right when it matters most?
X-Factor: Consistency has been the missing element for both teams, although perhaps Montenegro have missed this more than Italy, because of slightly higher expectation levels. Jelena Dubljevic had the hot hand in Vannes, but has been frustrated in the second round. Whether she can rejuvenate her form will be vital, because she really is the one player who can take the game away from Italy. She is very dangerous and having been thwarted against both Sweden and Spain, will want to make it third time lucky by finally excelling with a big display in Lille.
From The Camps:
"It was an important game for us [against Slovak Republic] who were very competitive. It was a game that gave us some confidence ahead of Montenegro. But, we need to be more fluid in offence, especially if they are aggressive and pressure us hard. We must play more relaxed and freely" - Italian head coach Roberto Ricchini.
"We didn't play as we had prepared [against Spain] and we had a lot of turnovers. It is obvious our mind was set on the Italy game" - Montenegro play-caller Miodrag Baletic admits this is the one his team are focused on.