EuroBasket Women 2011 Semifinals Preview

Eight teams collided in four thrilling quarter-final matches and after Thursday night, four teams are now left standing and will face off in two equally exciting semi-final duel on Friday.

Czech Republic VS Russia

Czech Republic, the 2010 World Basketball Championship silver medalist, overcame the odds and silenced their doubters by reaching the final four, where they will go up against an equally formidable Russian squad.

On their way to the semis, Czech Republic, which are playing in the tournament without their superstar Hana Horakova, defeated Croatia in the quarterfinals, 79-63, while Russia scored a huge 83-72 win over Latvia, who emerged as one of the favorites to win after a strong showing in the first two rounds of the European championship.

The two teams are expected to have a close match especially with the exciting matchup inside the paint between Czech Republic center Petra Kulichova and Russian Maria Stepanova.

Czech Republic coach Lubor Blazek is expecting another tough game, but they vowed to come out strong and avenge their 69-55 defeat against Russia in the second round, which was their first and only defeat in the tournament.

“Russia is a traditional opponent for us,” Lubor Blazek said. “We have always met Russia in every EuroBasket and in our preparation games. I believe our loss to Russia in the group stages was crucial for the team. We learned that without big performances and a huge motivation, we can´t win.”

France VS Turkey

On the other semi-final pairing, France will continue their title defense when they collide with Turkey, which are also eager to prove that they can be the best women’s team in Europe.

France, who showed inconsistencies and was slowed down by injuries in the first two rounds of the tournament, but they displayed their real strength in the quarterfinals, scoring an emphatic 66-58 win over Lithuania.

Turkey, on the other hand, went up against the undefeated and heavily-favored Montenegro in quarterfinals, but they overcame the tall odds against them, winning 56-44 to advance to the final four.

Turkey coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu is expecting a tough match but he is quite confident about their chances especially now that the team is showing eagerness to make it into the big stage this time.

“We wanted to be at the FIBA World Championship or the Olympic Games. Now, we are close,” Yildizoglu said. “There are still two more games but we can see it and I believe in my players.”

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