Russia will square off against Turkey on Sunday in Lodz for the women’s EuroBasket title – and automatic qualification for the 2012 Olympics – after the two survived the semi-finals.
The Russians, who toiled to beat Great Britain by just 3 points in the second round, delivered an utterly dominant display to overwhelm the Czech Republic 85-63 in their semi-final.
After a tight basketball game when the sides met in Bydgoszcz, there was no contest as the Russians finally produced the form that made them ante-post favourites.
“I think we started the game very focused on defence,” said Ilona Korstin. “When they don’t score I think their team is a little bit lost. In offence we played as a team with everyone together. When the subs came into the game they were ready and motivated.
“If we compare our team now and at the beginning of the tournament we are two different teams. I am very proud. We are still working on our mistakes but we believed we could come here and get to the Final.”
Turkey, who were rank outsiders when the tournament began, stunned defending champions France with a 68-62 overtime win.
With France threatening to steal victory in OT, Isil Alben hit a three-pointer with 1:52 left in overtime to key a 7-0 run that saw Turkey sweep into the final, powered by a dominant interior performance from Nevin Nevlin who had 23 points and 8 rebounds.
And now she and her team-mates can look forward to the opportunity to create one final upset – and avenge the 80-65 defeat they suffered to the Russians earlier in the competition.
Croatia face Montenegro in the fifth place play-off on Saturday with the winner earning the final European spot in next year’s Olympic qualification tournament, joining the teams ending up second, third and fourth.
EuroBasket Women (Lodz). Semi-Finals, Czech Republic 53 Russia 85, Turkey 68 France 62 OT. Classification Game. Lithuania 59 Montenegro 68.
SATURDAY. EuroBasket Women (Lodz). Fifth place play-off: Croatia v Montenegro (7.30pm). Seventh place play-off: Latvia v Lithuania (5pm)
SUNDAY. EuroBasket Women (Lodz). Final: Russia v Turkey (7.30). Third place play-off: Czech Republic v France (5pm).
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