|Josipa Silov and Croatia beat their neighbors Serbia to advance|
Croatia fought back from a nine-point half-time deficit to hold off Serbia down the stretch and claim a 62-59 win, which secured their progress to the second round of the U16 European Championship Women.
Turning Point: The third quarter had already been disastrous for Serbia, with Croatia taking the lead behind eight unanswered points. But when Josipa Pavic won a tussle with Marija Stojiljkovic for a rebound, the Serbian forward's reaction earned her an unsportsmanlike foul, and Pavic calmly drained both free throws before Diana Grizelj's jumper swelled the lead to six. It proved to be all the more crucial when Stojiljkovic picked up her fifth foul 29 seconds into the final quarter, and although her team rallied in her absence, they were never able to regain the lead.
Game Heroes: Pavic had a game-high 15 points and added eight rebounds. Klaudija Dobroslavic and Josipa Silov played the entire match, and although both struggled from the field, their heroic efforts inspired the team. Dobroslavic ended with 12 points and five assists, and Silov had nine points and seven rebounds. Marija Ilic's 16 rebounds and Ivana Katanic's 11 points and six assists were unfortunately not quite enough for the Serbian team.
Stats Don't Lie: Croatia's tenacious effort was exemplified by the 13 extra free throws they earned, and the 11-point advantage they took from the charity stripe proved to be crucial.
They Said: "It's a great victory for us. I'm satisfied much more considering yesterday's loss to a three-point shot in the last second. I'm very happy with the fight my team showed in coming back today" - Croatia head coach Dean Nemec
The Bottom Line: Croatia join Hungary and Spain in qualifying for the second round, where they will take on Russia, Greece and Turkey. Serbia will be eager to get off the mark in their return to Division A when they take on Portugal, Slovakia and either Sweden or Denmark in classification action, starting on Monday.