France Poised To End Spain's Reign

05.08.2007

The Spain-France final of the Termosteps U16 European Championship Women has plenty of story-lines. But none are bigger than a dose of French revenge going against the possible start of the next generation of Spanish domination.

Spain are attempting to capture their fourth consecutive U16 title - only the Soviet Union's seven-crown run from 1976-1987 would be longer.
Leonor Rodriguez (Spain)
Leonor Rodriguez has been a leader for Spain and it will be hard to stop in the final


While the French - who lost to the Spaniards in the 2005 - look to add the 2007 title to their 2001 gold and bronzes in 1997 and 1999.

France coach Gregory Halin was the French boss two years ago in Poland and he is aching for revenge - also for their 14-point loss against Spain in the final Qualifying Round game which cost them first place in Group F.

"I'm hungry for a victory. We lost against Spain this year and two years ago in the final. I really want to take my revenge. I've had it with losing to Spain. I think it will be different - a different game," said Halin, whose team lost 74-65 two summers ago.

Halin is not the only member of the French squad looking to forget those nightmares from two summers ago, when they actually beat Spain in the Qualifying Round - Spain's only loss in their three-year title-winning run - before dropping the final.

French star Diandra Tchatchouang played 22 minutes and had one point, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks.

"I don't want to relive that again with her," Halin said.

Standing against Halin's French side are the three-time reigning champions Spain, who are going for title number five following their 1999 crown.
French coach Gregory Halin
French coach Gregory Halin looks to end Spain's hold on youth titles

But this summer's team only features three holdovers from the 2006 side - Leonor Rodriguez, Farah Suarez and Claudio Calvelo. The team also is led by another coach as three-time champion Carlos Colinas advanced to Spain's U18 squad - where he led them to the final.

New coach Jose I. Hernandez Fraile was U18 assistant last summer and came to the U16 side with loads of success at the club level - most recently with EuroLeague Women side Halcon Avenida Salamanca.

"I know that this generation has things a little more difficult because the teams before them won the past three championships. But I'm really satisfied with our progress and happy I was given the responsibility to coach the team," said the Spanish boss.

Hernandez Fraile said the team actually has already met their goals coming into the Valmiera tournament, adding: "We wanted to get a medal, so it's a big satisfaction to reach the final. Of course, if we win we'll be extremely happy."

And Hernandez Fraile admitted he would rather have played Serbia in the final.

"France are a very good team. And beating France twice in four days is very, very difficult," Hernandez Fraile added.



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