|Amaya Valdemoro made a record 254th appearance for Spain on Saturday|
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: Montenegro harboured slim hopes of a comeback and surprise win, when Ana Baletic completed an 'And-1' play towards the end of the third quarter to narrow the deficit. But a deep three-ball by Elisa Aguilar effectively extinguished their hopes, as Spain went 51-38 in front, heading into the final period.
Stats Don't Lie: The Montenegrin big-hitters were off-colour, with Jelena Skerovic, Anna De Forge, Snezana Aleksic and Jelena Dubljevic having a night to forget, with a combined 5-of-29 from the field.
Game Heroes: There is just no stopping Sancho Lyttle right now. She produced another MVP display with another double-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and four steals to continue her scintillating form. Laia Palau had six assists and did not find the need to try a single shot in the game.
Flawless Spain impressed again with a 66-50 victory against Montenegro, made even more memorable by Amaya Valdemoro making history by becoming the player with the most appearances for her country.
She stepped out for Spain for the 254th time to break the record, although her moment was almost overshadowed by Lyttle, who was described as ‘unstoppable' by Montenegro head coach Miodrag Baletic afterwards.
It was another high class performance by Lucas Mondelo's team, who continue to look energised and hungry although the play-caller did not express much satisfaction after the game, preferring to focus on Valdemoro.
He said: "We passed the ball very well and there were some good moments. We also played very good defence.
"But, we also had a lot of turnovers."
He continued, "today is a happy day for the team and for the Federation because of Amaya Valdemoro. I don't want to say any more because it is her day."
Montenegro had to digest successive losses which has thrown their passage to the quarter-finals in Orchies into doubt.
They were always playing catch-up after a sluggish start and an opening ten minutes which saw Spain move 18-10 in front.
From that point onwards, they played reasonably well, but never looked to have enough in the tank to realistically trouble Spain.
Especially with Lyttle on-song and their own shooters not making any kind of impact.
Only Iva Perovanovic did a good job offensively for the the losing team, finishing with an efficient 19 points.
The final buzzer sparked scenes of triumph for Spain as the players celebrated with Valdemoro and handed her a celebratory cake to mark the occasion.
Montenegro Player Jelena Skerovic
"We weren't able to manage our turnovers, and our two-point shooting percentage was not very good. We allowed Spain to make easy shots. Now, we have to forget this game, think about what we did well and prepare for our next game."
Spain Player Elisa Aguilar
"We were very consistent. It is true that they got more rebounds than us in the first half but then we adjusted our defence and that was the key, plus the effort the team showed tonight. I want to also congratulate Amaya Valdemoro for being the first player to achieve 254 games with the Spanish national team, we are very proud of her."
Montenegro Head Coach Miodrag Baletic
"We didn't play as we had prepared, and we had a lot of turnovers. It is obvious our mind was set on the Italy game. We knew Spain is a complete team and our preparation was good but Sancho Lyttle was unstoppable tonight. I think Spain is one of the top three teams in this tournament."
Spain Head Coach Lucas Mondelo
"We had some very good passing during the game but we missed three or four easy shots and we started to be nervous, that is why we had a lot of turnovers. Montenegro was a hard team on defence but our defence was also key, we didn't let them score. Today is a celebration day in our team and in our federation because Amaya Valdemoro played her 254th game, it is her day today."