Promotion race intensifies as Semi-Finals lineup confirmed in Sofia
SOFIA (Bulgaria) - There were celebrations for Slovenia, Slovakia, Portugal and Serbia after they all punched their tickets to the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U18 Women's European Championship, Division B.
The still flawless Slovenia had to work hard to hold off Croatia 59-56 in a defensively dominated and tense derby encounter. An all-action 12 points, 6 steals and 6 boards from Lea Bartelme was the highlight for Slovenia, with Croatia punished for their 27 turnovers, although Franka Cuklin impressed with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
There was high drama between Slovakia and Romania as the former blew a 14 point lead and almost their place in the Semi-Finals. Romania almost won the contest with 25 points in the last period, but Hana Jakubcekova free-throws with two seconds left gave Slovakia a nail-biting 56-55 win. It was a fitting end for Jakubcekova, since she had a super 14 points and 17 rebounds.
While Slovakia looks forward to the Saturday Semi-Final clash with Slovenia, Portugal are preparing to face Serbia. The Portuguese shattered the dreams of host nation Bulgaria with a rampant 42-13 first-half that laid the foundation for their 65-48 win. MVP candidate Ines Bettencourt enhanced her case with 20 points, 7 steals, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Serbia breezed into the last four by outlasting Netherlands 72-49, with Sara Vasiljevic, Marija Avlijas, Ana Milanovic and Dunja Zecevic all posting double-digit scoring returns.
Meanwhile in the Classification Games, Faith Ehi Etute amassed 19 points and 13 boards for Luxembourg in a 66-46 win against Estonia, There was also a convincing 91-47 victory for Ukraine against North Macedonia as Daria Biriuk fired 22 points.