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Basketball - 27. September 2007.

ITA – Four teams eliminated at EuroBasket Women in Italy




Three days into the tournament and Israel, Romania, Greece and Croatia are winless and on their way home.

The Russians and Czechs could be headed for a third consecutive title showdown while the Greeks, particularly, are wondering if the momentum gained from their run to the Olympic quarter-finals three years in Athens is lost for good.

After their 86-47 thumping by Russia on Wednesday, Greece coach Konstantinos Missas said: “We leave the tournament with the experience of those two (close) games against France and Italy. The next two years will get better.”

Evanthia Maltsi, who will play at Ros Casares this season, had a game-high 22 points for Greece in defeat.

“The tournament for us is unfortunately over,” she said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t play basketball.

“Our team worked together, but maybe we found some difficulty here. Teams scout our games, they find our weaknesses, or they press us more. We can definitely play better basketball. We just didn’t show it, including me.”

Russia, who made 10 of 14 (71.4%) shots from the arc, had already clinched first place in the pool with the Greeks unable to progress following back-to-back defeats to start the competition.

Russia, who led 29-13 at the end of the first quarter, out-rebounded Greece 50-26.

With the Qualifying Round starting on Friday, Russia will not be taking progression to the finals as a foregone conclusion.

“We hope our basketball will get better and better,” said Russia coach Igor Grudin.

“We believe in our team and our goal in this tournament is to fight for a ticket for the Olympics.”

France, the winners in 2001, played the best game of defense so far at the EuroBasket in a 64-48 triumph over hosts Italy in Chieti.

In the first quarter, Jacques Commeres’ team held the Azzurre to just six points on three of 17 (17.6%) shooting from the floor.

By half-time, Italy were just six of 29 from the field (20.7%).

A 15-2 Azzurre run that was capped by 18-year-old guard Giorgia Sottana’s three-point play reduced France’s advantage to 32-31 with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

But Edwige Lawson-Wade went to the other end for France and delivered the biggest shot of the game, nailing a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down.

France would end up finishing the third quarter with a 39-35 lead, and after talking about turning up the pressure on defense in the team huddle in between quarters, Commeres’ team delivered the knockout blow with a 14-2 run to start the final period.

France’s Emmeline Ndongue, who had nine points and six rebounds, said: “Our strength is our defense.

“We react first by this. When we are a little bit lost, we just defend harder.”

Gianni Lambruschi, the Italy coach, said: “Today on offense, we didn’t play well against a physical, technically sound defense.

“That was the key to the game. There was too much confusion in our offense.”

In Group D, surprising Belarus followed up their thrashing of Croatia by blowing out Serbia 79-53 to finish second behind Spain with the Serbians settling for third.

Belarus center Yelena Leuchanka scored a team-high 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out two assists and had three blocked shots.

In the other Ortona clash, Spain went on a 17-2 run at the end of the game to beat Croatia 63-52.

Lithuania used a 14-4 run over the final five minutes to clinch second place in Group B with a 71-57 victory over Germany in Lanciano.

Sandra Valuzyte led the way with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Group B winners Belgium, one of the surprise packages in this event, scraped a 74-71 triumph over Romania.

Turkey defeated Israel 70-58 in Vasto to finish third in Group A and stay alive in the competition.

Yasemin Horasan had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Turkey.

Defending EuroBasket Women champions the Czech Republic brushed aside previously unbeaten Latvia 70-44.

"This was our best game," said Czech coach Jan Bobrovsky. "We kept Latvia on 44 points and that's proof of the good defense we played today."

Eva Viteckova led the Czechs with 12 points, Petra Kulichova and Jana Vesela both had 11 and seven rebounds while Michala Hartigova scored 10.

Jeff Taylor
FIBA

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