Croatia Earns Ticket to Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Croatia had a strong third quarter to escape with a 73-59 win over Montenegro to finish fifth in this year’s EuroBasket Women 2011 in Poland and also earning the final slot in next year’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

With the game tied at 42 halfway through the third period, Croatia unleashed a huge 19-5 run to take a 61-47 lead with less than six minutes left in the final period. Despite a late threat from Montenegro, Croatia held on to their lead, making their head coach proud of their accomplishments.

“It's a big thing for Croatia to be in the qualifiers,” said Croatia coach Stipe Bralic. “I think we have a great chance to get to the Olympics because five teams qualify. I think we have great players and great talent. So I think we're good enough with everybody to qualify.”

Jelena Ivezic scored 21 points, 15 coming in the first half, and grabbed eight rebounds, while Iva Ciglar added 19 points and five rebounds for Croatia, who will have a good chance of earning a ticket to next year’s Olympic Games in London.

“I'm closer to making my dreams come true,” said Iva Ciglar on their Olympic chances. “We'll be one year older, one year smarter and have one year's more experience. I feel that if we play as we can and improve, I'll be at the Olympics in London.”

Montenegro, on the other hand, had a painful exit after only absorbing their second defeat for the entire tournament.

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