Russia Seize Control Of Survival Battle

12 August 2011
U18 Women

Russia defeated Slovakia by a 22-point margin, 79-57, on the fourth day of the Classification Round for 12th to 16th place to gain absolute control of the situation in the battle to avoid relegation.

Just four days earlier, the Slovaks had inflicted on the Russians their fourth consecutive loss in the Global Vision U18 European Championship, 64-56, leaving the European basketball powehouse in turmoil.

Russia then decided it was time to wake up and take matters into their own hands.

They bounced back immediately with two consecutive wins over Ukraine and Lithuania and wanted to gain the advantage in a potential tie with the Slovaks on the last day of the Classification Round.

It was not as simple as the final score suggests, but they did it in style.

The Slovaks started better and led 24-19 at the first buzzer getting very useful contributions from their three best players, Barbora Bálintová, Angelika Slamová and Sabina Oroszova.

They were still ahead at halftime, 42-39, following a second quarter almost as high-scoring as the first, but this period was a sign of things to come, as the Russians showed they wanted to take control of the tempo and put an end to this free-scoring madness.

They came out of the locker rooms having found the way to achieve it.

They suffocated the Slovaks, forcing them to taking bad shots and commiting turnovers, while they never seized to connect with the basket on the offensive end.

Ksenia Tikhonenko, in her easily best game in the tournament so far, was the player who stepped up to lead the Russian charge.

The center finished with 24 points on 66.6 percent shooting from the floor, grabbed 13 boards and, almost as importantly, intimated the Slovaks by denying them six shots with her majestic blocks.

Together with Mariya Davydova who had 17 points and nine rebounds and Galina Kiseleva who posted another double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds, they formed a fantastic frontcourt trio against which the Slovaks had no luck.

Bálintová had 17 points and Slamová 15 in the losing effort for Slovakia.



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