Global Vision FIBA Europe U18 Big names from Eastern Europe in relegation round
FIBA Europe is finally beginning to see the change in centres of excellence in women's youth basketball in Division A. To see Russia, Lithuania, Slovak Republic and Ukraine in the relegation group is an indication of how things are changing.
In Group A, Russia's misery continued with another defeat. Sweden beat them (82-58) although the Russians had the best of the first half (35-34).
Sweden stepped on the accelerator in the third quarter with Ellen Nystrom and Nathalie Fontaine combining for 16 points as Sweden went on a 29-6 blitz to end the game as a contest. Once again Amanda Zahu led the attack with 14 points.
Turkey beat Romania (54-37) to clinch second place.
Slovenia were knocked off their feet by Poland (38-55) but ended up as the lucky losers as they still qualified for the second round of the competition from Group B.
Spain completed their destruction of the group with a 52-point victory against Lithuania (94-42) to go into the second round with a perfect record.
Lithuania went into the game knowing they needed a win to eliminate Slovenia but had lost hope by half time time trailing (17-53).
In Group CItaly won against Ukraine (64-55) to avoid relegation. The collective work of the 2010 FIBA Europe U18 European Champions Italy got them through this match with 10 players getting on the score sheet.
For Ukraine Lyudmila Naumenko and Oleksandra Chek shared 35 points. But with practically a five-player rotation they were always at a disadvantage.
Belgium topped Group C of the Preliminary Round at the Global Vision U18 FIBA Europe European Championship Women after winning the deciding game for first place against Serbia (60-41).
After a low scoring first quarter (7-5), Belgium started to take control of the game during the second quarter and went into the locker room leading (23-15).
Julie Vanloo (12 points) and Emma Meesseman (10 points) found their scoring touch after the break. Belgium went on a 13-1 run and never looked back as they went 20 points clear going into the final quarter (46-25).
Les Bleues against Oranje for Group D title
The Netherlands have made a successful transition from a traditional Division B nation to a Division A team in all age groups. The Netherlands have a transition game that causes problems for everybody. Also they always have clutch three-point shooters.
The game against France lived up to its billing of encounter of the day. France had to dig deep to overcome the Netherlands shooting long distance bombs.
Margaux Galliou-Loko got things going for France with 5 points in the first 90 seconds as France opened the game (6-1).
The Netherlands quickly sorted out their defense and then went on the offensive. Within a twinkle of an eye the teams were level after Gabrielle Van Den Bosch hit a three-pointer (8-8).
Luckily for France Galliou-Loko was a young lady on a mission and put France back in front with a three-ball on the next attack.
However the Netherlands, playing with more confidence, put a stop on France scoring while taking the lead on a long distance shot by Loyce Bettonvil (15-13) with three minutes to play.
The Netherlands like to play aggressive direct basketball. But the officials penalised them with charge calls. This resulted in a high turnover count during the first quarter but did not stop them from holding on to the lead (17-16) going into the second quarter.
France switching to zone paid off at the start of the second quarter as the Netherlands failed to score during the first eight minutes of the quarter.
France continued to press and scored 15 consecutive points to take control of the game (30-17) with 18 minutes played.
Maxime Essenstam (right) ended the barren spell for the Netherlands with 90 seconds left to play in the first half. Yet the joy did not last long as France finished with a 6-1 run to go into the locker room leading (36-20).
The expected Dutch three-point barrage came in the third quarter with Bettonvil and Van Den Bosch scoring back to back.
Van Den Bosch carried the Dutch attack on her shoulders with a couple of free throws and another shot from the land of many.
Galliou-Loko scored the only points for France during the first three minutes as the double digit advantage was demolished (38-30).
The game became more physical. Despite the two teams trading baskets regularly over the next three minutes France pushed their lead back into double digits (46-34).
The Netherlands were forced to change attacking systems once more opening the way for Van Den Bosch to hit a couple more three-pointers and two free throws to close the quarter trailing (43-48).
France's problems continued at the start of the final quarter with 5 quick points by Kourtney Treffers (left) to tie the game (48-48) with nine minutes to play.
However Treffers further aggression did not pay off with 2 quick turnovers and 2 personal fouls (making 4 in total) which resulted in her returning to the bench.
France took full advantage of Treffers' departure to take control of the game with back to back treys by Esther Moisan Niamke (54-48).
France got the the break they needed with back to back scores by Marie Mbuyamba (58-50) with five minutes left to play.
The Netherlands only hit one trey in the closing minutes while France stepped up defensively. Moisan Niamke hit her fourth trey as France went on to win (67-60).
For the Netherlands Van Den Bosch led the way with 19 points and Bettonvil followed up with 18. France had three players in double digits.
French players: Romane Bernies 9 (5 assists), Claire Stievenard 2, Esther Moisan Niamke 12, Olivia Epoupa 2 (4 assists), Mamignan Touré 0, Alice Nayo 3, Sara Chevaugeon 4, Margaux Galliou-Loko 12, Jodie Cornelie 10 (2 blocks), Lola De Angelis 3, Christelle Diallo 4, Marie Mbuyamba 6
The Czech Republic took the last place in Group D by beating the Slovak Republic (77-68).