|Alba Torrens racked up 20 points in the first 14 minutes to get Spain off to a rapid start|
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: Having blown a huge first half-lead after hitting the kerb offensively, Spain needed a lift to get themselves going again. Enter veteran maestro Amaya Valdemoro, who hit a go-ahead three and then came up with a hustle play in the paint late in the third quarter. It set her team firmly back on path to victory - their seventh in as many starts.
Stats Don't Lie: There was a huge difference in the turnover count. Even when Spain were off-colour offensively during the game, they didn't get frustrated and start spilling the ball to give up too many transition scores. They finished with only six turnovers, compared to 19 on the Czech side.
Game Heroes: Alba Torrens exploded with 20 points inside the first 14 minutes of the game and finished with 29, whilst Sancho Lyttle continued her impressive tournament with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Spain eased into the last four of EuroBasket Women 2013 and wrapped up a FIBA World Championship for Women spot in the process, as Alba Torrens and Sancho Lyttle combined for 52 points in a 75-58 win against Czech Republic.
Unsurprisingly, Amaya Valdemoro was beaming after the game had ended and despite the headline contribution of her two colleagues, she reiterated the importance of the team ethic.
She said, "We are all so happy with the situation and this result.
"We know our roles in the team which is important to achieving success. You have to be ready to come into the game whenever it might be.
"Sancho and Alba both had big games for us and this is important, because we have had a good tournament so far and we want to continue in this way."
Although Spain won by a convincing margin, it was not a one-way street in their favour, squandering an early 17-point advantage, after racing into a 25-8 lead with a breathtaking opening spell.
Torrens was on-fire as Spain responded to their opponents scoring the first two baskets of the game by registering 13 straight points without reply.
At 25-8 and on the canvas, the Czech Republic needed to launch a much needed salvage mission.
After managing to cut the gap to 25-15 at the end of the first quarter, their revival was further inspired by a couple of three-pointers by Teresa Peckova in the second period.
This helped reduce the arrears to single digits and get Spanish head coach Lucas Mondelo calling a time-out.
But it did not change much, as the Czech renaissance continued with Spain suffering a lengthy drought with just one point in seven minutes, across the half-time break.
The Czech Republic completed the comeback by erasing the early 17-point deficit, drawing level at 41, via free-throws from Katerina Elhotova.
Spain then re-grouped, stimulated by the introduction of Valdemoro and when Lyttle dropped a three on the buzzer, it eased any Spanish concerns.
It got them back on the front foot at 54-46 and they never had cause to look back as they cruised over the finish line.
Czech Republic Player Katerina Elhotova:
"Congratulations to Spain for reaching the semi-finals. At half-time it seemed as if we could play a close game but in the fourth quarter they ran away because of the fast-breaks."
Spain Player Laia Palau:
"I am really happy now, we are playing a great tournament and that was the most important game until this moment and we beat the Czech Republic. They played three very good quarters but in the end we were more experienced. Now we are in the semi-finals and we will see."
Czech Republic Head Coach Lubor Blazek:
"I want to congratulate Spain, as far as I remember in the last years we never won against them. I think our team, a renovated and young team, played really good but Spain had more experience and today they did no mistakes. Our 19 turnovers compared with their 6 reflect what happened."
Spain Head Coach Lucas Mondelo:
"I want to congratulate the Czech Republic because they were very competitive during the whole game. We started really good but we fell in their trap, we lost control of the tempo, and we played slower like they wanted us to play. After the first 25 minutes we could improve our game because we had not many turnovers. We are very happy because our goal before starting the tournament was qualifying for the World Cup and now we are in the semi-finals; it will be a very hard game against Serbia."