France are back in a U18 youth international basketball semi-final after missing out in 2006 and 2007, while for Lithuania their last appearance at this stage of the competition was in 2000.
Both teams have the luxury of resting key players on the last day of qualification action before the semi-finals on Saturday, 26 July 2008.
You will find match reports for group F by clicking on the links below or scrolling down the page for day 5 news from the youth international basketball U18 festival in Nitra.
Sweden holding off Bulgaria (73-60) and possibility of still qualifying for the semi-final
Bulgaria took advantage of a shaking start by Sweden to take and early lead (9-6). Jenniger Kücükkaya started the Swedish revival with two three-pointers as Sweden scored 11 unanswered points, which was concluded by Frida Fogdemark (right) to take the lead (17-9).
The Bulgarian head coach, Ventislav Gechev, made some defensive adjustments. So his side was able to match Sweden basket for basket to finish the first period (13-21).
Sweden went into overdrive in the second period and scored the first 8 points of the quarter. Bulgaria struggled to get any offensive action going and were reliant on the clutch shooting of Veronika Dzhikova to stay in the game.
Sweden had many options offensive wise and with Stephanie Yderström and Danielle Hamilton Carter scoring 7 and 6 points during the quarter. They went into the locker room with a significant lead (42-21).
During the second half of the match the Swedish coach, Jab Enjebo, turned his bench giving his entire roster court time. His side was never in trouble and paced themselves to victory.
Goga led the scoring with 22 points. She also pulled down 19 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Fogdemark also finished on a double- double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Hamilton Carter finished on 14 while Yderström contributed 13 points.
For Bulgaria Dzhikova shot 18 points and Stanislava Stankova added 15 while Stefka Nikolova finished on 11 points.
Russia had to work hard in overcoming Serbia (74-55)
Russia appeared to be still suffering from the effects of their defeat against Sweden as they allowed Serbia to dominate them in the first period.
Despite starting the match well offensively and leading (7-2), the Russians were not able to score for six minutes but conceded 13 points.
Once again Jovana Popovic was the catalyst behind the Serbian attack as they finished the first period ahead (17-9).
The Russian head coach Olga Shuneykina was not pleased with her players and made her feelings known. The reaction was immediate with Russia opening the second period aggressively as they scored 9 straight points to regain the advantage (18-17).
There was a brief exchange of baskets by both sides before Serbia managed to put an (8-1) run together to take back the lead (27-23).
Anna Ostroukhova (left) from Russian hit two three-pointers to bring the teams level once more (29-29). But Serbia went into the interval in front (31-29) as Popovic scored her ninth point of the game.
After the break it was a different Russian display with Ostroukhova starting a Russian (16-1) run that broke the resistance of their opponents (45-32).
The two sides traded baskets at regular intervals for the rest of the quarter with Russia holding onto the advantage (54-43) going into the final period.Serbia started the fourth quarter with good intentions and scored the first 4 points.
Then the Russian coach called for a time-out to immediately break the concentration of the opponents. It worked as Serbia failed to score for almost three minutes while Russia hit 10 points (64-47).
Serbia made one more attempt in trying to save the game. They scored 4 points and then suffered a (10-1) hit that put the game out of their reach (52-74).
Russia went on to win (74-55).
Ostroukhova led the scoring with 18 points while Anastasia Logunova scored 17 points and took 13 rebounds. Ekaterina Kiryanova added 11 points to her team's account.
For Serbia Jovana Popovic had 18 pointsts, Tina Jovanovic 14 while Sara Krnjic finished on 8 points but took 12 rebounds.
France edging out Spain to stay unbeaten
France hit first in this encounter to lead early (9-2). Allison Vernerey (left) was making things difficult in the Spanish paint and Diandra Tchatchouang profited to score a few easy points.
The French lead increased as they dominated the first seven minutes of the game (13-4).
Spain on the other hand played better in the last three minutes of the first period and were not as generous as France from the free-throw line as they hit France (8-0).
The pace picked up which suited Aminata Konate as France scored the last 3 points of the first period to stay in control (16-12).
The first four minutes of the second quarter belonged to Tchatchouang (right) as she scored 7 points as France's lead grew (23-14).
Carlos Colinas, the head coach of Spain, decided to change defensive options. Marta Tudanca was to start the scoring for Spain with a couple of shots from the free-throw line.
Spain started to win the exchanges and had reduced their deficit to 2 points (31-36) with just over a minute to play in the second quarter after Cristina Ouviña concluded a transition with a lay-up.
Isabelle Strunc sent France into the locker room with a 5-point lead as she hit a shot from beyond the arc for the last score of the first half (36-31).
After the interval Spain changed systems once more and went for a zone defence. France struggled in breaking the Spanish defence and suffered a (7-0) hit that brought the teams level (38-38) for the first time since the opening exchange in the first period.
France had to make adjustments and tried hard to master the zone defence but sill managed to score enough points to go into the final period leading (54-49).
Both coaches came up with some interesting tactics at the start of the final period. Spain changed the zone to a classic 1-3-1 system while France went for a half-court press.
This resulted in getting only points in the first three minutes from the free-throw line as Spain narrowed the gap (52-54).
Strunc finally ended the draught from open play as she scored for France. However Leonor Rodriguez replied almost immediately for Spain.
Spain eventually drew level as Marta Xargay (left) ended almost 3 1/2 minutes of no score from either side (56-56).
The last three minutes were tense and despite the difficulties France had with free-throws, Vernerey and Bettina Kadila (right)split pairs to give (58-56) there side the edge as the game entered money-time.
Konate provided the pass to Vernerey who scored (60-56) to give France some breathing space. Spain then switched to player on player defence and Tudanca scored for Spain.
Spain had the chance to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining after Vega Gimeno went for a rebound and won the ball to give Spain possession. Yet they were unable to turn the chance into points as Tudanca's effort failed to connect.With time running out Spain has no choice but to foul Tchatchouang, who then hit the free-throws which allowed France to take the game (62-58).
Tchatchouang led the scoring with 24 points and Verneray contributed 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.Yet France had a poor day from the free-throw line as they only managed 15-of-35.
For Spain Rodríguez had 12 points and Ouviña added 10 points.
France and Lithuania are the only teams that have not dropped a game in this youth international basketball tournament.
U18 European Championship Women Division A – Group E Summary
Lithuania were taken to the wire by the hosts Slovak Republic to win (55-52) to maintain their unbeaten record.
Aurime Rinkeviciu scored the winning points from the free-throw line with 23 seconds remaining in the game.
The Czech Republic beat Turkey (72-56) with Katerina Bartonova scoring 16 points. Poland had to wait until late in the third period to overcome Ukraine and win (73-64).
Youth international basketball news from the U18 European Championship Women Division A Day 4
Youth international basketball news from the U18 European Championship Women Division A - Day 3
Youth international basketball news from the U18 European Championship Women Division A - Day 2
Youth international basketball news from the U18 European Championship Women Division A - Day 1
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Youth international Basketball picture credit from the U18 European Championship Women Division A:
Miguel Bordoy Cano
Date created: 24 July 2008