Final two teams take their places in the quarters with wins on Tuesday.
After Monday’s qualifiers saw Great Britain and Sweden advance, there were only two spots left in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. The top two teams in the tournament–Spain and France–awaited the two winners. Who were the lucky two?
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Belgium 72, Slovenia 67
On the opening day of the tournament, Belgium came out fighting. Their win over Russia was a slight upset, according to FIBA’s rankings. It would be their only win in the group stage, but it was enough to take second in Group D and advance to the qualifying round.
While she didn’t lead the team in scoring — that would be Julie Allemand with 25 points —Belgium’s Emma Meesseman was once again the most important player on the floor. Her 18 points were just part of the story. Nine rebounds, five assists, a steal, and three blocks were every bit as vital to her team. If not for her five turnovers, there would have been little to criticize about her performance.
Not to be forgotten, Kim Mestdagh added a double-double for the Belgium team. She put together a stat line of 13 points, 11 rebounds, an assist, and a steal to help the team to an overall tournament record of 2-2.
Slovenia had a strong showing in their first knockout stage appearance, but Belgium was just a little too much. Four of the five Slovenian starters scored in double figures. Shante Evans, Teja Oblak, and Nika Baric each scored 15 points, with Evans and Oblak also adding 6 rebounds apiece. Baric had a game-high 9 assists to barely miss the double-double. Annamaria Prezelj threw in 11 points, and reserve Eva Lisec was close to double figures with 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Belgium will face France, who went 3-0 in the preliminary stage to win Group B. It’s their fourth straight time reaching the quarterfinals.
Russia 63, Italy 54
Like Belgium, Russia was only able to get one win in the preliminary round, but it was enough to advance to the knockout stage as the 3rd-place finishers in Group D. Italy went 2-1 in Group C, the only group that didn’t have an undefeated winner. That didn’t matter when the two faced off for the right to play Spain.
Maria Vadeeva once again led Russia with 19 points, but it was Italy’s Cecilia Zandalasini with a game-high 24. Vadeeva had the stronger overall game, though, gathering 9 rebounds, dishing 2 assists, stealing the ball three times, and blocking a shot.
Vadeeva also had more help. Zandalasini was the only Italian who scored in double figures. Olbis Futo Andre and Elisa Penna were the next-highest scorers for Italy with 8 points each. Francesca Dotto had 6 points and a game-high 5 assists.
On the Russian side, Anastasia Shilova scored 10 points and had a team-high 4 assists. Natalia Vieru contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
Russia will now match up against the top-ranked team in the tournament. Spain has averaged 73.7 points in their three games. Russia will need to step up their game, having averaged only 64 over four contests. They will try to do that on Thursday, July 4.
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