U18 Women's Games: Friday 29 July
SOPRON (FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2016) - Hosts Hungary will need the full backing of their enthusiastic home support when they face Russia on Quarter-Final day.
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History will be made, with Belgium chasing only their second Semi-Final spot in recent years and Latvia looking for their first ever. Unbeaten Latvia looked so impressive in their first two games but struggled mightily in squeezing past Slovak Republic and Israel. Belgium’s talented squad, including bigs Billie Massey and Laura Henket, could give Digna Strautmane and her team problems.
Turkey are another team chasing a historic first Semi-Final appearance, and although on paper defending champions Spain would appear to be the favourites, there’s no gulf in class between the teams. Spain are well led by versatile wing Naira Caceres, but Turkey can match up nicely with Meltem Yildizhan, while Merve Ari came up big in their Round of 16 success over Czech Republic.
Russia are undefeated but survived scares against Italy and Turkey in the Group Phase, so they are far from infallible. Dorka Juhasz will be fully tested inside by stellar talent Raisa Musina, but with Reka Lelik and Agnes Torok alongside Juhasz, Hungary certainly possess the weapons that could send the home fans home in jubilation.
France looked very impressive in the Group Phase, but they had to rely on Alexia Chartereau’s game-winner to squeak past Lithuania in the Round of 16. Any success here will be a bonus for Italy after the silver medals already gained at U20 level and at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship in Zaragoza, and this nothing-to-lose attitude could make them dangerous opponents for the French team.
Classification Games 9-16
Both teams came so close to making waves in the Round of 16 but ultimately fell short against Latvia and Belgium, respectively. Israel remain winless overall, but if they can reproduce Wednesday’s performance, they can ensure Division A survival with victory here.
Despite a furious fourth-quarter comeback, Czech Republic were left gutted as they were ousted by Turkey in the Round of 16. Slovenia have been overmatched in every game thus far, but they’ll know that victory today will save their Division A status.
Lithuania came inches away from a huge upset victory over France in the Round of 16, with Gabija Meskonyte’s last-second shot bouncing clear. They need to pick themselves up from that heartbreak in a tough match against Slovak Republic, who will be desperate to solve the offensive woes that restricted them to just 31 points in their Round of 16 match against Italy.
The Dutch team remain winless, stuttering in the fourth quarter of their only tight match to lose in overtime against Slovak Republic. Serbia used a strong second half to take down Lithuania in their only victory thus far, but they’ve struggled to find that form consistently.