Defence key for Georgia, Malta and Armenia
TBILISI (FIBA U18 Women's European Championship 2016 Division C) - The hosts used a strong second quarter to run away from Kosovo and start their campaign with a 65-49 win in Group B.
Georgia were 15-12 behind after the first 10 minutes, but turned up the defence before the half. The home team allowed Kosovo just five points, scoring 24 in the process and securing a big enough lead for the second half.
The ball was moving well on Georgian offence. The team dished out 22 assists, compared to just 7 for Kosovo, while both teams had trouble controlling the ball. Georgia turned the ball over 27 times, but also collected 27 steals to keep it even. Kosovo had 16 steals, but their 38 turnovers proved to be costly.
Natalia Otkhmezuri flirted with a triple-double. Georgia's number 7 ended with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, while also stealing the ball eight times and serving up her team-mates with eight assists. Elene Mandaria was the only other Georgian player in double figures with 13 points. Kosovo also had two standout players. Flaka Kelmendi finished with 18 points to her name, Adea Kastrati added 14.
Even more impressive in Group B were the girls from Malta. They allowed Gibraltar just 14 points in the first three quarters, finishing with a 65-32 win in Tbilisi. Two Abelas led the scorers for Malta, Sophie with 16 and Jasmine with 10 points. Anabella De La Chica was Gibraltar's sole performer in double digits with 14 points, but on a 4-of-20 shooting day.
Armenia joined Malta and Georgia with big defensive outputs. In Group A, they defeated Andorra 66-40 on Friday. The game was done by halftime, as Armenia built a 37-13 lead ahead of the final 20 minutes. None of the Andorra players reached ten or more points. Inga Manucharyan was the game hero for Armenia with 15 points. Anna Aslanian had 12 points and nine boards. Mane Hokhoyan helped with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Andorra need to bounce back against Wales on Day 2. Armenia will be enjoying time off as Group A has three teams. Kosovo play Malta, Georgia battle with Gibraltar on Group B's Day 2 action.