Serbia in relegation round after shocker, Czechs through

10 August 2008

Basketball giants Serbia will have to fight against relegation at the Termosteps U16 European Championship after losing 76-75 to Poland for their third straight defeat in Group C.

Serbia's loss means Hungary will advance to the Qualifying Round, which is also the next destination for the Czech Republic after running away from Ukraine 109-46 as five players scored in double figures.

Barbora Kaspárková (Czech Republic)
Barbora Kaspárková (Czech Republic)
Renata Pudláková led the way for the Czechs with 19 points while Hana Smídková collected 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jana Hausknechtová scored 16 points and Tereza Sedlácková and Barbora Kaspárková both had 11 points for Richard Fousek's team, which improved to 1-2.

Ukraine will join Serbia in the fight against relegation after losing their third straight game despite 22 points and nine rebounds from Viktoriya Skubiy. But no other player scored more than eight points for Ukraine.

Czech Republic scored the first seven points of the game but Ukraine was not ready to be blown out like the previous two games. And Skubiy actually kept Elena Fedchenko's team ahead in the game with 11 first quarter points in helping open a three-point lead (18-15) before closing the first quarter up 18-17. The Czechs jumped back ahead with the first eight points of the second quarter before Skubiy knocked down a three-pointer and Darya Zavidna's foul shot trimmed the deficit to 25-23. But that's when the Czechs started the rout, closing the half with a 21-3 surge for a 46-26 lead.

Pudláková and Martina Cepelková sparked a 17-5 beginning to the third and the gap was up to 79-37 after three periods. Ukraine were still within 85-41 early in the fourth but the Czechs reeled off a 14-0 run and passed the 100-point mark in building their biggest lead of 63 points.

Poland's victory over Serbia meanwhile came down to the final seconds, and the tournament hosts advanced to the Qualifying Round with a 2-1 record following their 76-75 win in Group C.

Dorota Mistygacz paced Andrej Curyl's Poles with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Monika Jasnowska collected 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Angelika Kowalska had 14 points and Magdalena Zietara added 11.

Snezana Colic led Serbia with 17 points while Emilija Stojanovic had 15 and Natasa Kovacevic added 13 in the losing effort.

The loss means Serbia will finish outside the top 12 for the first time in the nation's history, including their times as Yugoslavia. The final Yugoslavia team suffered the country's worst result ever in 2001, finishing 10th of 12.

Mistygacz knocked down a triple early as Poland build a 9-4 lead. Kaja Stankovic's three-ball evened things at 9-9 and Colic and Kovacevic would keep the Serbs ahead 29-23 after one period. Trailing 32-25, the hosts closed the first half with a 17-6 to go into the locker-room ahead 42-38.

Colic started the second half with a three-ball and Danica Dragicevic's basket pushed the Serbs back in front. The lead switched hands eight times in the third period and Ramona Cossengue Casimir's three-pointer gave Poland a 59-55 lead late. But Stojanovic nailed a three just before the buzzer for a one-point game after three quarters. And Stojanovic opened the fourth with another triple for a 61-59 advantage.

Zoran Kovacic's Serbs opened an 11-point lead - 71-60 - with five minutes to play. But they committed three turnovers in seven scoreless possessions and Poland would pull within 75-74 on Jasnowska's three-point play with 53 seconds to play. Agata Dobrowlska's foul shot evened the game with 24 seconds but Jovana Karakasevic lost out of bounds the rebound of Dobrowlska's second free throw and Kowalska would make one of two foul shots with 12 seconds remaining. Kowalska then batted the ball out of Jelena Stulic's hands and Serbia were unable to foul Poland to finish the game.

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