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Promotion race heats up as Quarter-Finals are set in Skopje
SKOPJE (North Macedonia) - The action is heating up in Skopje as the promotion scramble continues, with 8 nations still in with the chance of climbing out of the FIBA U18 Women's European Championship Division B.
The Quarter-Finals have now been set after a hectic and entertaining Group phase.
Finland v Portugal
Finland will put their undefeated record on the line as they look to advance to the Semi-Finals of the competition with a fifth consecutive victory. They will once again look to MVP frontrunner Awak Kuier to lead the way, with the commanding center using all of her senior national team experience to try and get Finland into the top tier for 2020. She is posting a tournament double-double of 14 points and 10.4 boards per game, while in the backcourt, Janette Aarnio is showing her class with 3.4 assists per game. Portugal have won 3 of their 4 games since touching down in the North Macedonia capital and they have their own star name to lean on. Carolina Cruz is leading the team in points, rebounds and also efficiency and will be expected to help curtail the impact of Kuier in this one.
Sweden v Romania
With their flawless record, Sweden will be strong favorites to continue their winning run and slide past Romania in this once, since their opponents have managed to scrape into the last 8 of the competition with 2 wins and 2 losses. Sweden will once again be fuelled by the all-action skills of Matilda Ekh, who has been dominant. She has harvested 17 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, is also in the top three for assists for her team and is the second most efficient player in the entire competition. Living up to her reputation before the tip-off in Skopje, it will take something special from Romania to slow her down. Most likely, a big team effort and impactful performances from key trio, Anamaria Pop, Mara Martonos and Laura Vaida - although the latter sustained a head injury in the Group phase so could be doubtful.
Turkey v Denmark
After Turkey's early exit from the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019, some success at youth level would give fans a welcome boost and so far at least, this team looks to be firmly on course to deliver. They are a perfect 4 of 4, have also lit up the highlights reel en-route to the Quarter-Finals and have arguably played the best team basketball of the tournament. They have dangers all over the floor, rather than with 1-2 key players like many nations, meaning Denmark won't know if it will be Ferlde Akalan, Melek Uzunoglu, Elif Bayran or Derin Erdogan most likely to do the damage. The Danes have an encouraging 4 of 5 record heading into this one and can actually also point strongly to the team concept. Leading scorer Frida Formann has not had to do it alone, with Alberte Rimdal, Julianna Okosun and Laura Ziegler all prominent contributors too.
Greece v Netherlands
The last ticket to the Semi-Finals will be snapped up by Greece or Netherlands, with the former yet to taste defeat. Greece will continue to rely on their ability to lock team's down with their swarming defense, as well as the ow familiar MVP quality performance from Ioanna Chatzileonti who has been outstanding so far in the tournament. Her scoring, rebounding and underrated passing skills will be on show and Netherlands will need to come up with a strategy to stop her dominating - as she has done in so many of the games. The Dutch side, who have won 4 of their 5 outings, will be encouraged that they have several players on form, rather than one major centerpiece. Not least, Lotte Sant, Vita Stam and Floor Toonders, who have all caught the eye.