Defense Earns Spain Place In Final

04 August 2007
Spain will get the chance to capture their fourth straight Termosteps U16 European Championship Women crown after knocking off the Czech Republic 68-58 in the first semi-final on Saturday. 

In a re-match of last summer's final, Leonor Rodriguez Manso collected 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Spain, who will play for title number five in total in this age category.

Spain continued their magical summer, reaching their fifth Division A final in a European youth competition. They are hoping to add the U16 Women crown to their U20 Women title.

But the Czech Republic gave Spain a good fight on Saturday. Jose I. Hernandez Fraile's Spanish team led 17-16 after the first period only to watch Czechs open a seven point lead midway through the second quarter as his offense stalled. Still, Spain trailed just 31-28 at the break.

The lead was 35-30 after Lenka Bartakova's foul shots at the 7:29 mark of the third. That would be the Czechs' last points for some time as they could find no answer for the Spanish defensive pressure, which helped spark a 15-0 run for a 45-35 lead in the final stages of the period.

Gabriela Medunova's steal and break-away lay-up at the buzzer finally put the Czechs back on the scoreboard. And that basket motivated a 13-2 Czech surge to start the fourth to pull ahead 50-47, completed by Alena Hanusova's three-pointer with 7:19 to play.

But Vega Gimeno Martinez answered right back down the floor with a trey of her own to even the game again. And the Spanish defense again picked up their intensity, holding the Czechs to just three foul shots over the next 10 possessions.

Claudio Calvelo's inside basket pushed the lead back up to 10 points 63-53 with 2:36 to play.

The Czechs, who were led by Hanusova's 15 points and 12 from Medunova, could not get closer to seven points the rest of the way.

Amaya Gastaminza Ganuza had 14 points for Spain, while Martinez chipped in 13 points, four rebounds and five assists. The Spanish were able to overcome 24 turnovers.

"Both teams were very nervous in the first half. In the third quarter we really worked hard on stopping their playmakers and shooters," said Hernandez Fraile. "After the took back the lead, I told the team don't worry, we still are in control of this game."

"We have at least a medal. So that is already a big satisfaction. We'll see tomorrow if we have the biggest satisfcation possible with a gold medal."

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