Un bel vizietto quello delle nazionali giovanili italiane che consiste nell’accedere fra le prime 4 d’Europa, ed è stata cosi’ anche per la U.16 che battendo la Russia, favorita per la vittoria finale, ha coronato con le semifinali un grande torneo fin qui disputato. Ma non è finita per le nostre giovani ragazze infatti nella semifinale affronteranno la Repubblica Ceca, squadra con cui le azzurre hanno già perso sia pur di pochissimo, ma sicuramente la piu’ abbordabile del lotto, visto che l’altra semifinale, vede la favoritissima ed imbattuta Spagna e L’ Ungheria altra squadra molto forte.
Vada come deve andare ma questo è un altro grande risultato del basket giovanile azzurro, che dimostra che nonostante la crisi economica, di valori e di reclutamento, la qualità è rimasta alta.
Ultima annotazione, ma non per importanza, fanno parte della comitiva due ragazze umbre, di Terni, Rachele Porcu e Lorela Cubaj, da noi già conosciutissime ma che ora saranno sotto gli occhi di mezza Europa, FORZA RAGAZZE.
Qui sotto riportiamo in lingua originale le news europee.
Italy U16 – Russia U16 61:55
Italy stayed in the title race after they knocked down Russia in the quarterfinal clash in Albena tonight. Francesca Pan (180-SG-97) nailed 24 points to lead the winners.
Italy stunned their opponents early in the game. They unloaded 26 points in the opening quarter to take a 10-point lead. The tempo fell in the second frame. Italy and Russia exchanged baskets as the Azzurri secure a 34:24 halftime advantage. Russia got closer in the third period. They narrowed the deficit at 7-point mark at the final break. Shataeva put Russia within four points with just over a minute left in regulation. But Rachele Porcu (165-PG-97) went deadly from the stripe and sealed the win for Italy. Mariella Santucci (167-PG-97) nailed 9 points, while Rachele Porcu had 8 points for the winners. Raisa Musina (189-F/C-98) answered with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Russia. Alina Bespaltseva (179-G-98) had 12 points in the loss.
Italy U16: Francesca Pan 24, Mariella Santucci 9, Rachele Porcu 8
Russia U16: Raisa Musina 19+10 boards, Alina Bespaltseva 12
Turning Point: Sara Zavagnini only had four points in the game, but they came in a crucial first-quarter sequence where Mariella Santucci found her with a nice pass, and then Rachele Porcu stole the inbounds and Santucci again delivered. Italy went 10 points up and Russia were never able to come back.
Game Hero: Every time Russia threatened, Francesca Pan had the answer, with three huge three-pointers in the second half and drawing a crucial offensive foul in the last minute when Russia cut the lead down to four.
Stats Don’t Lie: Italy committed just nine turnovers in the game while grabbing 12 steals. Giulia Ciaverella led the way with three thefts, and Santucci, Porcu and Pan each had two.
Francesca Pan made a series of huge plays to lead Italy to a stunning 61-55 semi-final win over Russia in the U16 European Championship Women.
Russia had rolled through the competition, winning their first five games before losing to Spain in their last game of the group stage. Raisa Musina and Maria Vadeeva had been particularly impressive in the frontcourt, leading Italian coach Giovanni Lucchesi to start Lorela Cubaj, Lucrezia Costa and Benedetta Bonomi in an effort to counteract their size.
Vadeeva notched Russia’s first four points but the Italian defensive strategy proved effective, packing the paint and making Russia work hard for everything inside. On the other end Francesca Pan contributed to Italy’s first four scores with seven points and one assist, and Cubaj was troubling Russia inside leading to an early timeout.
Rachele Porcu and Mariella Santucci have been forcing steals all tournament and when Porcu followed Sara Zavagnini’s score by getting a hand on the inbound pass, Santucci went back to Zavagnini to give Italy a 21-11 lead. Porcu then connected from long-range and, despite Musina’s strong play inside, Italy maintained the advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Pan blocked Sabina Abaidullina to set the tone in the second period, and Giulia Ciaverella’s nice drive inside was followed by a stylish post move from Jasmine Keys to ensure Italy reached half-time with their lead intact.
Musina began the second half by showing her toughness inside to convert, and then stepped outside to drain a three-pointer as Russia tried to pressure the Italian team. Later in the quarter the teams traded big shots, with Elena Shataeva’s three-pointer meeting an immediate reply from Pan, before Daria Kurilchuk made a three-point play to cut the Italian lead to seven going into the final period.
Pan again responded with a vital three-pointer to begin the fourth quarter, but still Russia came and Alina Bespaltseva twice made big shots to cut the lead to six. Pan would not relent, with a three-point play followed by another long-range effort maintaining her side’s lead.
Bespaltseva scored another short jump-shot as Russia pushed hard off an Italian miss, and the game became tense with Santucci losing the ball out of bounds. Pan stepped up again, intercepting a pass on the resulting possession and taking it all the way in for a lay-up. Shataeva’s jump-shot brought Russia as close as they would come, four points down in the final minute with possession, but Pan capped her wonderful game by drawing an offensive foul, and it was left to Porcu to drain the final free-throws to secure a famous victory.
Musina finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Russia. Pan added six rebounds and two blocks to her game-high 24 points, with Santucci contributing nine points and six assists and Keys and Costa both finishing with 12 rebounds for Italy, who will take on the Czech Republic in Saturday’s semi-final.