Spain Win One For Jordi

13.07.2007

Spain have dedicated their opening victory at the U20 European Championship for Women to their coach Jordi Fernandez.

Fernandez was unable to travel with his team to Sofia as he is recovering from eye surgery.

I hope this win will make him very happy.
Spain's Maria Pina.
He sustained a split retina in a warm-up tournament earlier this month and has been temporarily replaced by his assistant Susana Garcia.

Fernandez, who has been ruled out indefinitely, could not have asked for a better birthday present than his team's 72-68 triumph over defending champions Russia on Friday.

His team pulled yet another surprise straight after the encounter when each player put on a t-shirt that read "Va por ti Jordi" (This is for you Jordi).

"We miss him and we wish he was with us," said Spanish forward Maria Pina, who had a game-high 22 points against the Russians.

"I hope this win will make him very happy."

Fernandez guided Spain to a fourth-place finish in last year's U20 championship and had high hopes going into this tournament.

But the 53-year-old's absence will not stop his team from reaching their ambition - Spain have never won an U20 European Championship medal.

"I think against Russia we have proved that we can fight against any team," added Pina.

"We may lack height and we may not be as physical as other teams but we have a lot of heart and that balances it out.

"It is this fighting spirit that hopefully will carry us to the medals in this tournament."


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