|Turkey will have a sixth player in the crowd on Saturday|
With lots of history between the players of the two teams, the host nation Turkey and the two-time defending champions Spain are ready to clash in the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship Women on Saturday.
It is not only a replay of one of the semi-finals games from a year ago in Debrecen, but at least half of the players from each of the squads were also there when the teams clashed in the Second Round in 2011 at the U18 European Championship Women in Oradea. Spain won both of the matches in question.
But, for Turkey, last summer's loss still hurts. Eight of their players, and four from Spain, were part of the semi-finals game when Spain triumphed 58-50 on their way to the gold medal.
"Last year we played and lost against Spain, and that was our only loss in the tournament," remembers star point guard of Turkey, Olcay Cakir.
Turkey came into the game with a 7-0 record, and erased a 15-point halftime deficit, only to see Spain finish the encounter with a 10-0 run and win. Turkey had to settle for bronze.
The roles have been reversed this time around, as Spain comes into this year's game as the only unbeaten team of the competition.
"That is why I think we will win this time. This year, they will lose against us," says Cakir.
In the Second Round of U18 European Championship Women in 2011, Spain beat Turkey 69-57 and sent Turkey to play in the quarter-finals against the eventual champion Belgium, while Spain went on to win the bronze medal. Six players from each team today, participated in that game two years ago.
This year, Spain is by far the most dominant team in the tournament. It has rolled into the semis by virtue of seven double-digit victories, including a 78-45 quarter-finals drubbing of Russia.
"We don't care who we are going against. We are just going to play our game," states Spanish guard Inmaculada Zanoguera.
Zanoguera, who is playing the best European tournament of her life, was part of both previous wins against Turkey. She feels her and the teammates have what it takes to go all the way, and make it an unprecedented three-peat for Spain at the U20 European Championship Women.
"We just want to win, no matter where, or against who. We will be ready go."