Belarus beat Sweden to grab last world championship spot

Belarus have claimed the final spot at next year’s world championships for women following a comfortable 69-48 victory over Sweden in Orchies.

Despite a fairytale Eurobasket for the Swedes, the side clad in yellow and blue clearly looked fatigued. And the Belarussians took full advantage by spreading the ball and attacking the basket regularly. Belarus went to the foul line 18 times, compared to Sweden’s nine.

Natallia Anufryienka led the winners with 17 points, supported by Yelena Leuchenka’s effort of 16 points and 6 rebounds as Belarus made amends for their disappointing showing at the last Eurobasket, two years ago in Poland where they were eliminated in the second round.

“Congratulations to my girls for the job and I want to thank the Swedish team for their game yesterday, as a coach it was a pleasure to watch that game,” Belarus coach Rimantas Grigas said.

“Today we prepared the match really well, we were ready mentally. We knew it would be very hard to face a team like them. I am very satisfied with this win.”

For a brave and exciting Sweden side, they exceeded their expectations by reaching the quarter-finals and pushing favourites France to the limit before being edged out thanks to FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year Celine Dumerc.

The Eldebrink sisters were Sweden’s usual statsheet stuffers as both Elda and Frida led with 11 points each.

Sweden did make a confident start, as they took the game to the much more experienced Belarus side, but the Belarussians had too much. They hit six triples in a row as they took a 26-21 lead in the second quarter and they never looked back from there.

“We started really good for the first five minutes, but then we fell apart, we could not continue the level we showed yesterday,” Lars Johansson said. “Belarus also showed a very good performance.”