France have qualified for another FIBA Europe youth international basketball tournament by beating the Slovak Republic (68-63) in their final qualifying group game.
As this match was played before Russia took on Spain, France needed to win by 4 points to be sure of a place in the quarter-final.
The Slovak Republic knew this also. That is why at the end of the game they did not foul France early because they wanted to have the last shot.
If their last shot, a three-pointer attempt had hit the target they would have still lost the game but eliminated France on point difference provided that Russia would have lost to Turkey.
However in the end no calculators were needed because France won by 5 points leaving the Slovak Republic players in tears.
Konteh led the scoring with 13 points, while clutch shooter Sara Chevaugeon put in 12 points. However the energy and leadership of Romane Bernies who also scored 10 points was the major difference between the two teams.
Claire Stievenard continued in her role of doing all the little things that are important while Marie Mbuyamba and Agathe Degorces just played hard.
You may read a more detailed match report below.
Gregory Halin, the French coach spoke with womenbasketball-in-france after the match. You can watch his interview as well as those by Romane Bernies and Alice
The key points in the interviews was that the players did not know that they needed to win by 4 points and that they did not care who they would play (Spain) in the FIBA Europe quarter-final because they knew it would be tough.
France with 12 players dressed to play had the perfect start with Christelle Diallo and Sara Chevaugeon scoring the first points of the game.
Beáta Janoscíková opened the account for the Slovak Republic. Afterwards it was a case of tick for tack as both teams tried to establish themselves, yet without success.
France put together a 7-0 run as they raced out to a double-digit lead (21-9). But the Slovak Republic never panicked and by the end of the quarter they trailed by just 5 points (20-25).
The shoot-out between both teams continued with France hanging on to a slender lead (31-26) with six minutes to play in the half.
The main problem for France was that Diallo was already on 3 fouls and sitting on the bench.
The Slovak Republic took full advantage of Diallo's absence and went in front for the first time with a three-pointer fast-break basket to complete a 9-0 run with four minutes to play.
It was a real battle in a hot and sticky gym with the Slovak Republic pulling away (43-37) with France starting to commit too many fouls.
Zofia Hruscáková's baseline jumper on the buzzer took the Slovak Republic into the locker room ahead (45-40).
At the start of the third quarter France went small with no pivot but mainly guards and small forwards. Within three minutes they had regained the lead (47-46).
Both teams continued to battle with bodies flying all over the floor. There were no more systems applied just kids doing their best to win a basketball match.
France went into the last quarter leading (60-51).
With five minutes left to play in the final quarter France pulled away with some clutch shooting and good defending to lead (67-54).
five minutes were nail biting basketball in a gym with no air condition. The players were soaked in their own sweat while the medical staff were fanning the players as much as possible when on the bench.
Both teams wanted to
qualify for the FIBA Europe U20 quarter-final so the final minutes were
intense. But France hung on to win (68-63) after putting on a hard full-court press so that the Slovak Republic players could not set their feet to properly execute their final shot.
France: Romane Bernies 10, Agathe Degorces 4, Claire Stievenard 5, Alice Nayo 6, Margaux Galliou-Loko 8, Hélèna Akmouche DNP, Sara Chevaugeon 12, Adja Konteh 13, Jodie Cornelie 2, Sarah Ousfar DNP, Christelle Diallo 2, Marie Mbuyamba 8
Petra Bartánusová 2, Zuzana Ivancáková DNP, Martina Letková 0, Barbora
Bálintová 15, Zofia Hruscáková 8, Marta Páleníková 13, Nikoleta Feketeova DNP,
Gabriela Nagyová 4, Martina Kissová 0, Marianna Draganovská 6, Beáta
Janoscíková 2, Angelika Oravcová 13
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