EuroBasket Women 2019 qualifiers get off to thrilling start

Mansoor Ahmed
Mansoor Ahmed

The road to Serbia/Latvia got underway this weekend as the international women’s campaign began with thrilling contests, highlighted by Great Britain’s 90-87 win over Israel after a period of overtime in Belle Vue, Manchester.

Jo Leedham-Warner led Great Britain with 22 points and fresh off her WNBA title win with the Minnestota Lynx, Temi Fagbenle chipped in with 19 as GB began Group D with a win.

The Brits will travel to Greece on Wednesday with both sides on 1-0 records as the Greeks saw-off a stubborn Portugal side 66-60.

An impressive, all-around effort of 15 points and seven rebounds from Styliani Kaltsidou was enough for Greece to secure the win.

The reigning European champions Spain eased to an opening day victory in Sofia as a 14-point effort by Laura Nicholls led to a 92-42 win over Bulgaria in Group F.

Despite the 50-point win, Spain were sluggish to begin with, settling for a 21-14 cushion after one. As the game wore on though, experience told and in the fourth period, the champions asserted their dominance by holding their Bulgarian counterparts to just six points, while scoring 24 themselves to start with the expected victory.

Spain’s bench celebrating an opening day win in Sofia. Photo: FIBA

In the other Group F game, Eurobasket Women 2017’s leading scorer Alina Iagupova was at it again as she almost single-handly guided Ukraine to a 72-58 road win over the Netherlands in Group.

Iagupova recorded a double-double of 33 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

This year’s Eurobasket Women runners-up France also began their campaign in commanding fashion as they bullied their way to a 103-44 win over Finland in Helsinki.

Sandrine Gruda’s 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists paced France in their opening day win.

Sandrine Gruda was in sublime form as France recorded a dominant win in Finland. Photo: FIBA

The night’s big winners were Russia as they hammered minnows Albania 122-37 in Tirana.

Maria Vadeeva enjoyed a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, as well as getting four steals with the Russians leaping into a 44-4 advantage after the first quarter alone and never looked back.

Seven Russian players scored in double figures in the one-sided victory.

All EuroBasket Women 2019 Results:

Group A: Iceland 62-84 Montenegro; Bosnia & Herzegovina 79-67 Slovak Rep

Group B: Estonia 56-81 Turkey; Poland 62-70 Belarus

Group C: Albania 37-122 Russia; Lithuania 70-73 Hungary

Group D: Portugal 60-66 Greece; Great Britain 90-87 Israel

Group E: Romania 59-80 Slovenia; Finland 44-103 France

Group F: Bulgaris 42-92 Spain; Netherlands 58-72 Ukraine

Group G: Switzerland 56-85 Belgium; Germany 56-89 Czech Rep

Group H: FYR of Macedonia 52-61 Italy; Croatia 54-57 Sweden