Global Vision FIBA Europe U18
Four teams remain perfect at the top

Romania need a repeat of the heroics of the 2010 FIBA Europe Global Vision U18 Championship Division B competition, when they won the title for promotion on the buzzer.

They have to win their last group game against Poland and then hope for other results to favour them to stay in the competition after their defeat to Slovenia in Group E.

The defence of the title for Italy, the FIBA Europe Division A champions from 2010, also depends on them winning their last game in Group F and like Romania wait on other results to know their fate.

The Slovak Republic are drawing closer to saving their FIBA Europe Division A status with a big win (71-42) against Lithuania. Sabína Oroszová and Angelika Slamová shared the scoring with 17 points each.

Russia have finally opened their account by thumping Ukraine (75-46).

Under the new relegation system introduced last year, the teams play each other twice. So Ukraine still have a chance of escaping the drop but need to start winning soon.

Group F is set for an explosive final

Belgium and France have been on a collision course since day one of the 2011 FIBA Europe Global Vision U18 Championship and finally meet to decide who finishes top of the group.

 Lynn Delvaux, Emma Meesseman, Julie Vanloo, Lien Delmulle and Harriet Bende © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay

Belgium were involved in the early game of the day against the Netherlands (71-54) and came up on top by playing a zone system that prevented the Dutch from creating openings for their shots.

However it was not a rosy start for Belgium because Maxime Essenstam from the Netherlands was on fire and kept her side in the game with 10 first-quarter points as the teams were tied (16-16).

However a trey by Lynn Delvaux practically on the buzzer gave Belgium the first quarter (19-16).

Benny Mertens, the coach from Belgium, decided to apply a zone system in the second quarter which stopped the Netherlands completely.

Although Emma Meesseman was well guarded by the Netherlands, other players stepped up offensively and Belgium went into the locker room leading by 10 points (35-25).

Belgium continued to play like a well oiled machine. By the end of the third quarter they had put an end to this match with an advance of 28 points (60-32).

All the players from Belgium played in the match with nobody logging up to 26 minutes. Julie Vanloo (4 assists) led the scoring with 14 points. Lynn Delvaux followed with 13 points. For the Netherlands Essenstam finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

 French fans supporting U18 basketball team © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay

France stepped on the accelerator at the right moment during the second half of their match against Serbia to win (74-51). The victory is important because France can finish no worse than in second place and have avoided a quarter-final pairing with Spain or Sweden.

The match itself started very quickly with Olivia Epoupa getting blocked by Kristina Topuzovic on the very first attack with three seconds played.

France continued to push but Sara Chevaugeon's three-point attempt did not drop and it was the Serbians that scored first with 36 seconds played through Topuzovic.

However back to back scores by Christelle Diallo which was followed by 4 points by Margaux Galliou-Loko gave France a (8-4) advantage with three minutes played.

 Natasa Kovacevic © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay

Serbia were quickly back into the game with some interesting pick and roll plays. This resulted in Natasa Kovacevic (left) scoring from beyond the arc and Topuzovic concluding a fast break as they went back in front (9-8) with less than five minutes played.

The pace dropped a little as the players chased each others up and down the court in a lively exchange with France coming out on top with at trey by Chevaugeon (16-13) with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

Kovacevic was giving France all kinds of trouble, scoring her 9th point of the quarter to close the scoring (15-16).

A three-ball by Mamignan Touré with her first shot of the game was the only points France scored during the first five minutes of the second quarter.

Kovacevic (11 points) made it a 1-point point game (18-19) after 12 minutes.

 Alice Nayo © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay    The game went defensive with nothing happening on the scoreboard until Alice Nayo (right) hit a couple of free throws midway through the quarter.

The two teams started to score more regularly. With 38 seconds left before the half-time break the teams were tied for what turned out to be the last time in the game (28-28) after Katarina Vuckovic hit a couple of free throws.

France were able to get into the locker room with a 5-point lead thanks to a trey by Chevaugeon and a driving lay-up just before the buzzer by Epoupa (33-28).

After the break France changed their system of play. Despite dominating they were unable to pull away because Aleksandra Stanacev (13 points) found her scoring touch for Serbia (35-39).

Esther Moisan Niamke and Nayo combined for 11 points as France finished the quarter with a 13-4 run to go into the final quarter with a double-digit lead (52-39).

France controlled the rebounds while Serbia threw the towel as the final quarter fizzled out with France coming away with an important victory in terms of the possible quarter-final pairings.

French players: Romane Bernies, Claire Stievenard 2 (9 rebounds), Esther Moisan Niamke 5, Olivia Epoupa 9 (3 assists), Mamignan Touré 8, Alice Nayo 15, Sara Chevaugeon 6, Margaux Galliou-Loko 10 (9 rebounds), Jodie Cornelie 6, Lola De Angelis 0, Christelle Diallo 4, Marie Mbuyamba 2

 Romana Ptackova © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay    In the final game of Group F, Romana Ptackova (left), the coach from the Czech Republic was all smiles as her side beat Italy (54-47).

Her team was trailing (20-28) at half time. Yet with 17 first-half points by Tereza Vyoralová and an almost perfect third quarter the pendulum started to swing in favour of the Czech Republic (41-36).

Italy ran out of ideas when it mattered most in the final quarter and were unable to score from open play, trailing (42-46) with seven minutes to play.

When Italy did not score for five minutes the Czech Republic were almost home (51-42).

Although Italy finished the game with a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line it was another case of too little too late.

The calculations are complicated for the final day of the Qualifying Round in Group F at the U18 FIBA Europe European Championship for Women with four teams still in the chase for two places.

The only thing that is clear for the moment is that if Italy lose they are eliminated. However whatever happens the last two teams to qualify from this group are not to be known until the match between Serbia and Croatia is played.

Romania are in trouble but not eliminated from Group E

Romania, the hosts of the FIBA Europe Global Vision U18 European Championship Women, lost for the fourth straight game, this time against Slovenia (53-57) but are not eliminated.

The situation in Group E is as follows:

Romania are eliminated if they lose to Poland. Slovenia must then beat Turkey by a big enough margin to give them an advantage in a three-way tie with Poland and Turkey.

In the case of Slovenia losing to Turkey then they are eliminated. Romania must then beat Poland by a sufficient margin to win the three-way tie against Poland and Slovenia.

Romania have the advantage of playing last so they know what they need to do to qualify if Slovenia lose.

 Slovenia U18 players in the huddle during 2011 U18 European Championship © FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay

Slovenia went on a 9-1 run towards the end of the second period to go ahead (37-31) at the interval. They then stayed in front all the way to the end. Rebeka Abramovic was the leading scorer with 15 points while Alina Gjerkes (9 rebounds) contributed 12 points.

For Romania Sonia Ursu had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Poland's legs were heavy after their overtime defeat to Turkey from the previous day and they were powerless to stop Sweden from crushing them (39-75).

Josefin Vesterberg was the leading scorer with 21 points for the Scandinavians.

Spain have been finally given a game at the 2011 FIBA Europe Global Vision U18 Championship with Turkey pushing them all the way.

Spain looked home and dry with a (44-28) half-time lead. However Turkey fought tooth and nail during the second half of the match.

Spain ended up winning (69-57) with Astou Ndour scoring 18 points and picking up 11 rebounds. For Turkey it was the turn of Ayse Cora to lead the attack with 19 points.

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U18 FIBA Europe European Championship basketball picture credits:

FIBA Europe / Viktor Rébay

Date created: 10 August 2011

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