Spain Hold Off Russia In Overtime

04.09.2005

Russia avoided defeat against Turkey but Spain did not let the defending champions off the hook in their EuroBasket women showdown on Sunday in Izmir.

Maria Stepanova sent the game to overtime with a basket two seconds from the end, however, Amaya Valdemoro and the Spanish stormed to an 83-77 triumph in the extra period.

Amaya Valdemoro (Spain)
Amaya Valdemoro was at the peak of her game against Russia
Just three rounds into the tournament, and there have already been a handful of thrillers and Spain's victory was the most intense.

Spain were upset themselves on the opening day by Lithuania to send alarm bells ringing from Madrid to Barcelona, yet if any team has proved they are capable of hitting back it is the women in red as they proved two years ago in Greece when coming back from a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Poland in the bronze medal game.

No player is more identified with the team than Valdemoro, who ironically will play professionally in Samara, Russia, next season.

Valdemoro poured in 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks in a virtuoso performance at both ends of the floor.

And very important for Spain is that they made more three pointers, against the Russians than they did in their previous two games -they made 40% of their perimeter shots.

The final 2 minutes of regular time proved the quality of both teams as they traded clutch baskets.

It was Elisa Aguilar who put Spain up by 2 with a long jumper (69-67) for the first big shot of the final moments. Stepanova answered with a jump shot of her own, before Valdemoro buried a shot from the elbow to give her side the lead again with only 20 seconds remaining.

Following a Russian timeout, Olga Rakhmatulina found Stepanova for a basket which tied the game yet again.

But the drama was far from over.

With only 2 seconds remaining Spain thought they had won the game after Valdemoro hit a shot from midcourt. However, the referees ruled that the shot was taken after the buzzer and after a breathtaking passage of play, the game was headed for overtime.

Spain struck first in the extra period as they scored the first points to put them in comand, Russia managed to reduce the deficit to 78-75 with one minute remaining but Ana Montanana's three pointer with 51 seconds left on the clock sentenced the game.

Stepanova had a team high of 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Spain take on Serbia & Montenegro on Tuesday while Russia meet Lithuania.


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