Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to the ladies of Team Russia, who claimed their third FIBA EuroBasket Women title with a convincing 59-42 win against Turkey in the championship match last night. Elena Danilochkina, who went for 12 points in the final and averaged 13.9 in the tournament, was named MVP; former EuroBasket MVP Maria Stepanova also contributed a monster game of 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Official FIBA writeup follows.
(FIBA Europe) – It wasn’t the smoothest of rides but a rampant Russia finally reached their destination to top the podium and be crowned EuroBasket Women 2011 champions.
Their stuttering and unconvincing start to the tournament was little more than a distant memory as they swept aside Turkey with a classy and powerful performance to make up for missing out on top spot in the Final two years ago.
The victory also ensured their remarkable sequence of podium success woven during previous years continued. Having won alternate silver and gold medals since 2001, the pattern had hinted at gold this time around and they duly delivered.
Led by veteran Maria Stepanova and tournament MVP Elena Danilochkina, Russia pretty much controlled the game from start to finish as they used their strength in the paint and all-round depth of their roster to great effect; Turkey found it tough going against an imperious Russian defence right from the first moments.
A superb early play by Birsel Vardarli was a rare highlight but not a sign of things to come, since Team Turkey couldn’t penetrate or make a shot from outside and consequently trailed 19-8 after ten minutes.
Russia increased their advantage to 16 points but Turkey kept the faith. They came storming back into contention as consecutive three-pointers by Bahar Caglar and Saize Ivegin sparked them into life and helped cut the gap to just five points with a stunning 15-4 run.
However, Olga Arteshina settled Russian nerves shortly ahead of the interval when she drooped a three-ball and helped restore the double-digit advantage.
Turkish fans, hoping their team would return to the floor and muster the kind of revival witnessed midway through the second quarter, were left disappointed. With each passing minute during the second half, Russia began to look more and more like champions in waiting.
As hard as Turkey tried, they could make no real impression and a surprise comeback never materialised as Russia cruised home for yet another EuroBasket Women title.