Spain, France, Croatia, hosts Portugal are Semi-Finals bound
MATOSINHOS (Portugal) - The Semi-Finals of the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship will see Spain, France, Croatia and hosts Portugal battle it out in the race for a podium finish, as well as a title.
The first ticket into the Semi-Finals was punched by Spain, as they picked up a dominant 74-50 win over Greece. Spain continued to show that they're one of the favorites to win it all in Matosinhos as they led the game for all but 56 seconds.
Spain were led by their dynamic duo of Iyana Martin Carrion (24 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 9-of-14 FG) and Awa Thiam (23 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 10-of-14 FG), who both turned in their best performances of the tournament so far.
Another tournament favorite, France, also continued to dazzle, defeating Italy 78-48 with their incredibly balanced scoring attack. Six players scored at least 7 points, headlined by Ainhoa Risacher who finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks on 6-of-8 shooting from the field.
In what was the game of the day, Croatia stormed back from 18 points down to shock Belgium 60-58. Croatia never led in the game until there was only 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but they had the upper hand when it mattered the most.
After just making a game-winning layup against Slovenia in the Round of 16, Lena Bilic did it again, this time, knocking down the go-ahead three-pointer to put Croatia on top 59-56 to seal the win. She finished with 13 points and was one of three players in double figures along with Petra Bozan (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Zara Valcic (14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals).
11 turnovers by Belgium in the final quarter hurt their chances and allowed Croatia to stay in the game to make a comeback.
In the final Quarter-Final of the day, hosts Portugal continued their winning ways in front of the home crowd, this time at the expense of Hungary, 56-53. Both teams struggled in the fourth quarter, combining for 13 points, but it was Portugal who were able to hold on for the narrow win.
Portugal converted opportunities a little better, as they knocked down four more threes (7-3) and seven more free-throws (11-4) than Hungary. Sofia Sousa had her highest-scoring game of the tournament with 15 points on 3-of-7 shooting from three-point.
In the 9-16 Classification Games, the four teams who won today will ensure that they will remain in Division A, while the four teams who lost will be playing to avoid relegation. Latvia snuck by Finland 64-61 behind Madara Smite's 21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 6 steals.
Poland got their first win of the tournament after upsetting Lithuania 69-68, thanks to a 12-1 run in the final two minutes of the game and outscoring Lithuania 30-14 in the final quarter. Lucja Grzadziela had a big game with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals.
Slovenia blew past Denmark 78-47, controlling the game from start to finish. A 26-0 run that stretched from the first quarter into the second quarter helped put the game out of reach early.
Finally, Czech Republic defeated Germany 60-56 in a game where neither team pulled away by too much throughout the game. It was a game of two halves, as Germany won the first two quarters 32-26, while Czech Republic won the final two quarters 34-24 to close things out.
Semi-Finals pairings (Friday, August 26):
Portugal v France
Croatia v Spain