|Alba Torrens made a statement, pouring in 30 points from Spain|
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: After Russia came storming back from 18 points behind to make it a one-shot game with 26 seconds left to play, Sancho Lyttle missed two-free throws. But, she made almost instant amends by sinking her next pair to make it a two-shot game at 74-70 which proved decisive.
Stats Don't Lie: Both teams had 18 turnovers, something which may be an area for improvement for both head coaches.
Game Heroes: Valdemoro rolled back the years with a vintage display in terms of her energy and all-round influence which fuelled Spain's best early work. However, Alba Torrens stole the show, looking somewhere near her fabulous and vibrant best with 30 points as well as one particularly spectacular blocked shot.
Spain clung on by their fingernails for a 77-72 win against defending EuroBasket Women champions Russia, who showed they won't give up their title without a fight after almost overturning an 18-point deficit.
Despite the late wobble, Spanish head coach Lucas Mondelo was happy to take the victory and proud of a first tournament success at the helm.
He said, "We knew that our key was [that] Russia could not adjust to our defence and we tried to stop their dangerous post shooters.
"We are proud and happy that we can beat the champions since they will again be one of the best teams in EuroBasket Women."
After a first period which ebbed and flowed nicely, Spain tightened the defensive screw during the second quarter.
With Valdemoro and Torrens leading the charge, they managed to move 38-29 ahead at the interval.
If the first half proved difficult for Russia, it was to get worse during the third quarter for Alfredas Vainauskas and his players who subsequently fell 54-36 behind.
But, showing a great amount of character, there was a Russian renaissance but they just couldn't quite finish off a stunning fight back in crunch time.
In rather fitting fashion, it was Torrens who ended the night with a real flourish by finishing a great night of work with a super ‘and-1' play.
Russia player Valeriya Musina
"I think it was an emotional and very tough game, especially because our opponent is a great team. We just have to be focused on defence, stay together and fight."
Spain player Alba Torrens
"It' so important to start with a win like this... It's always hard to start a tournament but it's even harder against Russia. We were very focused, we could play our systems, they could back up, but we were still strong. It's a great victory."
Russia Head Coach Alfreadas Vainauskas
"The great difference was that we were pressured so much. We were ready to face this but their guards are very experienced, they could put a lot of pressure on our players. At the beginning our guards didn't take care of the ball, and we had a lot of turnovers."
Spain Head Coach Lucas Mondelo
"We knew that we should stop the Russians running game. We put good pressure on them and they had to shoot from distance; but even then they made some shots under the basket because they are taller and stronger and Sancho Lyttle got in foul trouble. Anyway, we are very happy and very proud of winning against the defending European Champions. We are back!"