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Malta Make Up Last Four

17.07.2014
SMALL COUNTRIES WOMEN
6. Ashleigh Vella  (Malta)
Ashleigh Vella and her team-mates from Malta advanced to the semi-finals with a win over Gibraltar

Malta made light work of Gibraltar, winning 93-25 in St. Pölten on Wednesday, to claim the final place in Friday's semi-finals at the European Championship for Small Countries Women.

Iceland, Austria and Scotland had already booked their tickets for the last four with wins on Tuesday leaving Malta and Gibraltar to battle it out for the final spot.

But, in truth, it wasn't too tough a task for Malta as they cruised to victory after racing into a 24-2 first-quarter lead behind 11 of leading scorer Stephanie De Martino's 26 points.

However, Malta coach Angela Adamoli understandably remained delighted with the win.

She said: "I am so proud of my team, as we recovered after the loss against Iceland. We are happy and honoured to play the semi-finals against the hosts."

The hosts, Austria, ensured their semi-final pairing with Malta by topping Group B with a perfect 3-0 record following a 70-45 defeat of Scotland on Wednesday.

They were made to work harder than Malta however. Scotland were well within touching distance before a third-quarter fast-break finish from Kata Takács, followed by a pair of free throws, sparked a 9-0 run which would develop into a 25-12 period.

From there the hosts held off the Scottish charge, profiting from their mistakes to score 22 of their points from turnovers and easing to an important win.

Austria coach, Mike Kress, said: "The girls did an excellent job focusing on the gameplan and attacking on both ends of the floor. We took Scotland out of their offensive rhythm."

The other game of the day saw Group B's two winless teams, Wales and Azerbaijan, face off for third place - and they produced a thriller.

Azerbaijan recovered from trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half to force overtime following a 5-0 finish in regulation.

But a Laura Shanahan three-pointer with 2:11 remaining put Wales up 68-65 and this time they were able to hold on for a 69-67 success.

Sarah Christine Wagstaff also enjoyed a huge 26-point, eight-rebound night for the Welsh but their coach, Shaun Reynolds, was quick to credit the success to their work on the other end of the floor.

"We played much better today, had more intensity on defence," said Reynolds. "It was a good game to be involved in."

Meanwhile Azerbaijan coach Scott Allen Mollenhauer, could not be too critical of his side given the determination they showed to claw their way back into a game that looked to be gone.

He said: "Wales finished well. We missed too many free throws. But the girls gave a good effort."

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