Torrens "X" Factor For Spain

30.07.2006

Spain may not go into Sunday's Umcor European Championship U18 Women final as medal favourites, but if this team knows anything, it is how to win.

U16 European champions in 2004 and 2005, this talented Spanish side moved to the U18 level in 2006 with an unbeaten record in official FIBA Europe competition.

This year's U18 competition has been dominated by Serbia & Montenegro and Spain will start Sunday's final as the underdogs. However, in Alba Torrens, Spain have a player who is used to finding her best form at exactly the right moment.

Albsa Torrens (ESP), MVP
Alba Torrens with the 2005 MVP trophy
Torrens, a 184 cm guard/forward, was selected MVP of the U16 European Championship in 2004 and 2005. More importantly, in both of those tournaments she peaked in the semi-finals and final.

In 2004, she scored shot 7/13 from the field and 7/7 from the free throw line for a game high 22 points as Spain beat Serbia & Montenegro in the gold medal game.

"In the final it wasn't so easy and Alba Torrens had a great game," recalls Serbia & Montenegro forward Sonja Petrovic. 

"She didn't play all tournament but in the final she was great and this was the reason we lost."

One year later in 2005, Torrens once again came through in the clutch with 20 points and 4 assists as Spain beat France to claim a second consecutive gold medal.

Torrens has not yet found top gear in Tenerife, but showed ominous signs in the semi-final against Sweden with a 14-point, 10-rebound, 3-assist performance, her best so far in the tournament.

While Torrens can provide Spain with an individual spark, team defense will be a key factor against Serbia & Montenegro who are averaging a tournament-leading 74 points per game.

"I think Serbia & Montenegro is a very good team, but I think if we play like we did against Sweden or with France or Russia, if we play good defense, we have a lot of options to win," said Spain forward Tamara Abalde.

"The defense is the most important thing for our team."

Then there is the home court advantage.

Over 2,000 fans turned up to watch Spain in the semis and even more are expected for the final. As well as local spectators, some famous faces have turned up in Tenerife to cheer on Spain, including senior team stars Amaya Valdemoro and Laia Palau.

Both have provided Spain's young stars with a timely boost.

"Its so nice to have them here and they really help us. We spoke with Amaya and she told us, good luck and to play strong," said Abalde.


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