The 2009 edition of the FIBA European Championship Women is in the books, punctuated emphatically with the French ladies’ 74-52 destruction of Spain for the gold medal finish.
However, it seems the real winners were those who managed to catch the Latvia-Russia game for third place, with center Liga Surkusa’s clutch play the difference maker in Team Latvia’s upset bid.
Progressing down the final table, it was Poland over Turkey for fifth, Serbia over Germany for seventh, Italy over Bulgaria in the ninth-place game, and Sweden beat Lithuania for 11th spot. FIBA roundups follow.
France toppled Spain, 74-52, to win the title of the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in Gdynia, Poland.
Spain opened the game at their run-and-gun tempo and were ahead 23-10 after one period, but then France got physical and the rest of the evening was all theirs.
Marielle Amant played a big part in changing the dynamic of the game. The French center, missing in action in a scoreless first period, showed up in a major way in the second, tallying 12 points before halftime.
Spain’s second unit couldn’t get the job done and a steal by Amant that she took all the way in for an easy two points gave France the lead 30-28 with over a minute to play.
France went into halftime up 32-28.
“We didn’t start any of our games winning by ten in the first quarter. I think that it was really good for our confidence going into halftime up four points,” said Amant.
Amant ended up with a game-high 20 points to go with 13 rebounds while her frontcourt partner Doriane Tahane banged home 18 points more.
Another ingredient in the win was the defensive work by small forward Darline Nsoki on the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Alba Torrens, who only scored five points after her eight-point first quarter burst.
“I knew she was a dangerous player at the beginning of the game, so I played her close and didn’t help my teammates on other players,” said Nsoki, who also had eight points and six boards.
And the final factor in the French victory was the shooting wrist of guard Melanie Plust (15 points).
Spain were still within eight points with almost eight minutes to go when Plust stepped up and drilled a three pointer from the top of the key to break the game open 58-47.
“I only hit those shots because I want to win every time. I play relaxed and loose and am ready to take those shot,” Plust said in the same cool tone as she plays with.
For Spain coach Jordi Fernandez the silver medal tasted “bittersweet” right after the tough loss.
“We had to play better to win, but I think in a few hours we will better appreciate what we have achieved,” Fernandez said.
“Spain is on the podium so we did our job.”
Latvia’s Liga Surkusa hit two huge three-pointers with under forty seconds to play to earn a 78-75 win over Russia and give her team the bronze medal in the U20 European Championship Women 2009.
The Latvian center’s first clutch triple bounced around the rim before falling through to even the score at 73-all with :38 left on the clock.
Latvia went ahead on two free throws by Elina Babkina with ten seconds to play.
Russia’s Evegnia Selyanina drove, missed a jumper, but Natalia Vieru was there to grab the rebound and put it in to tie it with :02 remaining.
Coach Ainars Cukste called for time and his team inbounded the ball from half-court. With everyone’s eyes on Babkina, the ball instead went to a wide-open Surkusa, who this time sent it in with nothing but net.
“It was out best game, we all played like a team,” said a euphoric Babkina, who led her team with 22 points and eight assists.
How did Babkina see Surkusa’s last second game-winner? Babkina said that she didn’t actually believe it was going through the net: “It was so excellent! It was an unbelievable shot!”
Except for an early one-point lead, Team Russia was ahead for almost the entire game.
Aleksandr Kovalev’s squad was led by shooting guard Evgenina Selyanina’s 25 points and seven rebounds while center Natalia Vieru added 22 points and twelve boards.
Nadezda Grishaeva had her usual strong game of 17 points, ten rebounds and three assists, but she fouled out with 3:11 remaining in the fourth.
It was simply a great game of basketball that both teams deserved to win for their effort and their ability to step up and respond in the crucial moments.
Latvia just happened to have that extra bit of magic that was worth the bronze.
Poland beat Turkey 77-71 to finish fifth in the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in front of their home crowd in Gdynia.
Turkey was ahead by three at the half, but Poland came out and outscored the Turks 24-8 in the third quarter, swinging the game in their favour for good.
“In the first half we were unconscious. We had to wake up in the second half and come out and win the game,” said point guard Zaneta Durak, who led her team with six assists.
Poland power forward Agnieszka Kaczmarczyk paced her team all game along with 23 points, six of which came at the beginning of that critical third quarter.
Durak said that her teammate’s performance is what they have come to expect of her: “It’s normal for her, she is our best player.”
Poland also had some big help off the bench. Reserve Klaudia Sosnowska had 17 points in 19 minutes.
Durdane Gumusay did what she could for Turkey, notching a game-high 26 points.
Serbia grabbed the seventh spot in the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in Gdynia, Poland, by holding on to beat Germany 82-79.
Point guard Ana Dabovic had another one of her complete games, pacing her team with 18 points to go with six rebounds and five assists.
Nina Bogicevic threw in another 17 points while pulling down eight boards for the Serbs, who had four players in double figures.
Nadja Protzig and Svenja Greunke each had 15 points for eighth-place Germany.
Italy defeated Bulgaria in a high-scoring 92-82 contest to finish in ninth place. Nino Molino’s squad shot 62% as a group and was led by Clelia Corsi’s work in the paint. The Italian center had 22 points to go with ten boards, eight of which came off the offensive glass.
Point guard Erika Striulli also tallied 22 points and captain Martina Crippa added 14 points to go with four rebounds.
Bulgaria’s Hristina Ivanova scored 30 points in the losing effort.
Sweden outlasted Lithuania 80-76 to claim eleventh place in a duel between two of the top centers in the tournament.
Louice Halvarsson led Sweden with 24 points, 16 rebounds and two assists while Lithuania’s Gintare Petronyte scored 18 points, pulled in 14 boards and dished out six assists.