FIBA Europe U16 Division A France out of medal hunt Julie Allemand hit shot of competition
France have missed out on a direct qualification for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women after falling to Belgium (67-70) in a dramatic finish during the first quarter-final.
The Belgium coach Arvid Diels (right in picture) could not hide his joy after the final buzzer.
Spain once again made it look easy with a comfortable victory against Greece (75-28) while Turkey outscored Sweden (56-53) in an evenly matched encounter.
Italy complete the semi-final quartet by beating Russia (60-50) with 23 points coming from Cecilia Zandalasini.
France must battle for fifth place with the other teams eliminated in the quarter-final to gain the last and fifth ticket to the FIBA World Championship.
In the relegation group, Poland came out on top against Serbia (66-62). Sanja Mandic was once again the leading scorer for Serbia with 26 points and 7 rebounds while Aleksandra Crvendakic chipped in 18 points.
However for Poland Weronika Telenga who missed the last couple of games was the match winner in her best game of the tournament so far with 20 points.
In the second relegation game Finland recorded their first victory of the competition by beating Croatia (61-54).
Moona Hämäläinen and Jasmine Dolivo were the leading scorers with 13 and 11 points each. For Croatia Antonija Chiabov and Ivana Matic scored 16 points apiece.
In the 9th-12th place classification games the Czech Republic beat Hungary (65-59) while the Netherlands won against the Slovak Republic (52-48).
You may read the 2011 FIBA Europe U16 European Championship for Women Division A quarter-final stories of interest by selecting the link below.
The reason why international youth basketball at U16 level is exciting even when the young players miss every shot under the sun are the moments of brilliance.
Belgium had one second to come up with a play to avoid overtime. Their coach Arvid Diels needed two minutes to explain how he wanted the play to run.
Anyway what happened next was Belgium that inbounded. A screen was set up and Julie Allemand (left) released a shot from way behind the three-point line that went in, game over.
The Belgium players then came up with a new celebration after the U18 Haka. This time Hind Ben Abdelkader played out a paint-ball scene in which she pelted her team-mates and they fell over twice. Then in the end she was pelted and everybody fell down.
The game itself was great from the tip-off right to the end.
France had Clémentine Morateur back and they changed their starting approach from the previous three games.
Unfortunately Morateur missed the opportunity from the charity stripes to open the scoring for France. But Assistan Koné got her side off the mark.
Belgium quickly changed their defensive system while taking the lead on the back of a trey by Margo De Korte.
Axelle Bernard and Ben Abdelkader made sure that Belgium maintained the advantage (7-4) with three minutes played.
The next six minutes were typical of U16 basketball with both teams doing a lot of running up and down, shooting and plenty of exuberance.
Belgium were a little bit more clever and with a minute left to play they led by (16-14).
Then France switched to their running game. They finished with taking the lead on the back of a trey by Bétengere Dinga-Mbomi (in picture) and a lay-up by Koné to close the quarter (17-16).
The second quarter turned into a basketball shoot-out with the teams exchanging three-pointers as the pace went up.
Julien Egloff, the French coach, was not too pleased and called for a time-out with France trailing (30-27) with just under five minutes played in the quarter.
The French forwards had a height advantage over their Belgium opposite numbers. The coach's plan was to stop Belgium from shooting from outside while taking advantage of the second point options inside the paint.
On the next attack Morateur fired in a trey which did not hit the target but Aby Gaye picked up the rebound for a put-back.
France then gained the lead as Gaye went on a drive to the basket and was fouled. She hit the free throws and France were back in front (31-30).
It was time for Belgium to change tactics. When they caught the French defense sleeping Medjo slipped into the paint to score with an AND-1.
Belgium continued to shoot with little success from beyond the arc. Although they were not collecting their own rebounds, they were finally able to add 2 more points on a second-chance opportunity (35-31).
As the players from both teams started to tire they started to miss the simple lay-up.
Belgium lost their momentum and France was able to score on a transition fast break play concluded by Koné.
France dew up a play with three seconds to play before going to the locker room but it did not work as Devilliers shot more in hope then conviction.
Belgium missed their last six attempts from beyond the arc but still went into the locker room leading (35-33).
No matter what France did in the third quarter they could not get past Belgium. With two minutes remaining Egloff's (in picture) frustration got the better of him and he picked up an necessary technical foul.
Belgium did the simple things better and went into the final quarter ahead (52-47).
The final quarter was following the same pattern as the third with Belgium holding onto the lead (64-58) with just over four minutes to play.
Egloff's running battle with the officials reached its climax with him picking up a second technical which is the equivalent of an ejection.
With just under four minutes remaining and trailing (58-66) France played better. Morateur started a French revolt with a huge three-pointer.
Dinga-Mbomi and Gaye continued the work while Morateur finished the 8-0 run with a split pair for France to lead (67-66) with 30 seconds to play.
Abdelkader tied things up once again (67-67) with a split pair with 20 seconds left to play.
Koné picked up the rebound off the missed free throw and in a twinkle of an eye the ball was with Morateur, who then rushed the three-ball attempt and missed.
The game was into the last second (1.1 seconds) and the French coaching staff called a time-out. As soon as the time was over the Belgium coach called a time-out.
After all the talking Allemand became a hero with the shot of the tournament to date. Belgium have qualified for the 2012 U17 FIBA World Championship to be held in the Netherlands next year.
France must now win the fifth place classification round.
Belgium: Margo De Korte 17, Julie Allemand 12, Anneleen Da Baets 7, An-Katrien Nauwelaers 0, Celine Lemmens DNP, Aline Verelst 2, Hind Ben Abdelkader 18 (8 assists 8 rebounds), Axelle Bernard 8, Laeticia Mpoyi 0, Kyara Linskens 0, Isabelle Medjo 6, Marlon Delrue DNP
Melis Gülcan's three-pointer with just under two minutes left to play turned out to be the winning basket for Turkey.
That shot gave Turkey a 5-point lead (56-51). But Sweden are known for their money-time exploits.
In a space of 60 seconds, Sweden missed four times including a couple of three-pointer attempts. In the same time Turkey managed just one shot.
Eventually the Swedish pressure and aggressive play paid off as Gabriella Hanson found herself at the free-throw line. Although she is not the best shooter in this discipline she held her nerve to hit both.
The last 53 seconds turned into a Swedish nightmare. They kept on shooting. But the ball would not drop.
However with 15 seconds to play Hülya Coklar from Turkey had the chance to put Turkey home and dry from the free-throw line. Yet she ended up missing both of them.
Sweden had one more chance to save the game. For some reason the ball was in the hand of Regan Magarity who is not a three-point shooter. Anyway she went for the shot and missed. She chased down her own rebound and then fumbled the ball.
Turkey could not match the physical style of the Swedish team but their speed and solid defending helped them through. Both sides had a bad time at the free-throw line with just 7-from-26 between them.
Büsra Akbas led Turkey with 19 points and 4 assists. Nurcan Basaran was the only other player in double digits with 10 points.
For Sweden Magarity had a double-double of 18 points and 18 rebounds while Henson finished on 13 points.
Turkey are going to their second U17 FIBA World Championship Women final while Sweden must get past Greece in the battle for fifth place.