|19 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
|"The players have shown a great desire" - Montenegrin Head Coach Miodrag Baletic|
By Paul Nilsen
The crushing lows and excessive emotional highs experienced by Sweden so far are set to continue when they step out against Montenegro, as they try to overcome bringing no wins with them into the second round.
Last Time Out: Sweden were overpowered in a big way by Spain and crashed 73-49 in their last Group B game in Vannes, whilst Montenegro came out 72-60 on top in their must-win duel against Ukraine to make it out of Group A.
Key Match Up: Elin Eldebrink must really get in the face of Jelena Skerovic and lay down an early statement that her counterpart won't be given any freedom. Skerovic has been impressive and leads Montenegro in assists and steals, but it is her all-round influence which is so crucial for her team. Eldebrink has to upset her rhythm and really stop Skerovic being able to pick out passes to the talented players filling the court in front of her.
Key Stat: If Sweden want to stop Montenegro by making them earn their points from the free-throw line, it could be a flawed strategy, since they have been clinical from the stripe with a 91% conversion rate, making 61-of-67.
X-Factor: Who is going to stop and guard the on-fire Jelena Dubljevic? This will be a huge factor in this game and is likely to be a duty shared between the experienced Kadidja Andersson and perhaps the fighting qualities of Anna Barthold. Dubljevic has barely missed a beat since the aeroplane wheels left Podgorica and touched down on French soil. If Sweden can take away a chunk of her 20 points-per-game, it will pose a question to their opponents as to who else is going to step up? Will Sweden have their energy back to find the aggression and spring in their step they will need to compete on the glass with Montenegro? Also Montenegro must get out to the perimeter defensively, since Sweden have been the tournament sharp-shooters from behind the three-point line.
From The Camps: "It's a great success for Sweden to pass to the second round and they are doing a great job - they are a very dangerous team. Sweden have great team defence, but probably just need some bigger players"- A glowing tribute for Sweden from Spanish head coach Lucas Mondelo.
"We properly responded to our defeat from Turkey [against Ukraine]. The players have shown a great desire. Although we are a small country, we are very proud and find it hard to fall in any match, so I was very pleased that we properly completed the preliminary stage." Montenegro play-caller Miodrag Baletic.