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More drama expected as Quarter-Finals take center stage in Sarajevo
SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina) - Only 8 teams remain in the battle to win the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship title as the competition reaches the Quarter-Finals stage on Thursday.
After a dramatic day of Round of 16 action yesterday, there are 4 teams without defeat as France, Latvia, Italy and Hungary have come through unscathed so far.
We take a look through each matchup below with more detailed statistics found here:
GERMANY v FRANCE
The defending champions have battled through close games against Belgium and Serbia to get to this point having blown away Croatia in their opener. A tough loss against Italy would have been a wake-up call and the team has responded by grinding out positive results.
France have battled adversity after losing Vaciana Gomis for the rest of the tournament, but they were boosted by the return to fitness of Yohana Ewodo. Last year was the first time they had failed to make it onto the podium since 2008, while Germany went on to lift the title and have a big task ahead of them in order to repeat their success.
Key Performers: Emily Bessoir (GER) - 11.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG / Aminata Gueye (FRA) - 11.3 PPG, 78% FG, 8.5 RPG
Top Stat: The top two rebounding teams in the tournament so far, averaging 55.0 and 54.5 rebounds per game, respectively with France accompanied in joint-second by Latvia.
RUSSIA v LATVIA
Two teams getting things done the hard way on their way to a last eight showdown. Russia edged out Croatia in arguably the game of the tournament after coming out on top in a dramatic finish in the Round of 16.
Latvia had an overtime thriller of their own in seeing off Poland in the Group Phase before a narrow victory against Lithuania was followed by a stern test by Israel through three quarters on Wednesday with Laura Meldere leading the way with some scintillating displays.
Key Perfomers: Anastasiia Bobrik (RUS) - 12.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG / Laura Meldere (LAT) - 20.0 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
Top Stat: Russia are one of only 5 teams shooting above 30% from 3-point range
ITALY v SPAIN
Italy have been relatively untroubled in Sarajevo to date having always found a way to pull away from their opponents for convincing victories. With a number of players from the U16 title-winning squad from last year, the winning mentality is strong and will be needed during the crucial phase of the tournament.
As for Spain, they were beaten by France in the Group Phase and tested by Israel before coming off of the rest day with a destructive performance against the hosts to win by a massive 73 points. Spurred on by a Final loss in Udine, victory against Italy could be the boost needed to go all the way this time around.
Key Performers: Giulia Natali (ITA) - 11.8 PPG, 2.8 APG, 5.0 SPG / Helena Pueyo (ESP) - 12.5 PPG, 2.8 APG, 3.5 SPG
Top Stat: Spain became the first team to score 100+ points in the event since doing it themselves back in 2014 against Croatia. They are also the only team shooting less than 50% at the free throw line with Italy 11th at 58.4%.
HUNGARY v CZECH REPUBLIC
Bronze medalists 12 months ago, Hungary are well set to at least repeat that feat. After easing through their group, they faced a much tougher test in the form of Belgium - who had been without a win in the competition - before prevailing in overtime as Reka Dombai and Angelika Kiss combined for 42 points.
Czech Republic also needed an extra period to advance as they overcame Lithuania in a close contest and keep their hopes of a spot on the podium, for the first time in over a decade, alive. Having suffered losses against France and Spain either side of beating Israel, Wednesday's success would have given them a major lift.
Key Performers: Reka Dombai (HUN) - 16.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.0 SPG / Eliska Hamzova (CZE) - 7.8 PPG, 43% 3PT, 5.0 RPG
Top Stat: Hungary are currently second (81.8) in points per game (81.8), while Czech Republic rank second lowest (55.3) as well as being joint-worst in turnovers with 22.3 per outing.
They Said: "It's a fantastic feeling. We really hope we will not stop here and keep going. The sky is the limit for us. This win did two things for us: gave us tremendous confidence that we can win a close game even when we are not at our best, but also a slap in the face because if we played better the game would have been easier." - Hungary guard, Barbara Angyal.