|16 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
|Aliaksandra Tarasava and Belarus became the first team to secure their spot in the second round at EuroBasket Women 2013|
By Joe Hewison
Turning Point: Tatsiana Likhtarovich's eight third-quarter points helped spark a 10-0 run that swung the contest in Belarus's favour.
Stats Don't Lie: There were 11 lead changes and the scores were tied eight times tied before the decisive run, illustrating the importance of that sequence.
Game Hero: The game was won in the paint and Yelena Leuchanka was a big part of the reason for that, pulling down 12 rebounds to go with 13 points.
Croatia coach Stipe Bralic paid tribute to Belarus' bigs after they dominated the paint to seal a 57-43 victory and book their place in the second phase of EuroBasket Women.
Yelena Leuchanka dominated down low with 13 points and 12 rebounds while Anastasiya Verameyenka also pulled down 11 boards as Belarus won the battle under the basket.
That being said it was a nip-and-tuck tie until a 10-0 Belarus run in the third quarter gave them the upper hand.
But Bralic was under no illusions when he reflected on his side's defeat, pointing to their inability to cope with such a force in the frontcourt.
He said: "They played better than us, especially on defence for all 40 minutes. They played excellent defence.
"We were very, very bad in offence, only 28% shooting and 20 rebounds. Belarus had more and it was key.
"They had better play in the paint because they have excellent players who are very strong in the paint and good three-point shooters.
"Their bigger players are also excellent runners and that caused big problems for my team.
"We struggled in offence because Belarus's big players are very quick and they have quick help-side defence."
The Croats were aware of this threat prior to the game, aiming to exploit their speed advantage over Belarus on the fast break, as they did to such great effect in the opening game against Lithuania.