By David HeinSpain overcame a hostile crowd and playing the final five minutes without their coach to come back and beat hosts Latvia 56-52 to reach the final of the U20 European Championship for Women where they will play Russia for the gold medal.
Marta Xargay had 13 points, Amaya Gastaminza collected 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and Leonor Rodriguez hit for 12 points including a big three-pointer later in the victory, which saw coach Lucas Mondelo get sent to the dressing room for a second technical foul.
Playing in front of 3,000 fans including Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, Latvia failed to hold onto a nine-point fourth quarter lead and will now face France for the bronze medal. Anete Steinberga led Latvia with 16 points while Sabine Niedola collected 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
|Marta Xargay had 13 points in Spain's victory over Latvia.|
Both teams started the game with very intense in a defensive battle. Latvia were able to pull away a bit in the first quarter thanks to four three-pointers, including two by Klintsone. And the Latvian lead was 17-8 after one period.
Trailing 19-10, the Spaniards began to slowly find their rhythm offensively and found open shots and worked hard on the offensive glass to get back into the game. A Cristina Ouvina triple and an offensive rebound put back by Gastaminza knotted the contest at 21-21. But Latvia were ahead 24-23 at the break.
The intensity remained in the second half and Spain trailed just 33-30 when Steinberga converted a three-point play and Ieva Krastina nailed a long ball to help push the gap to 41-32 after three periods.
Spain kept coming at Latvia and trimmed the gap to 45-42 when coach Mondelo was expelled from the game with his second technical foul with more than five minutes to play.
The Spanish defense forced three straight turnovers and Rodriguez and Xargay combined for all seven points in a 7-0 run to open a 49-46 lead. Ahead 52-50, Rodriguez nailed a three-pointer with 36 seconds left, setting up Ouvina's foul shot with 15.6 seconds to play.