Spain Race Past Poland To Book Russia Semi-Final

17 July 2009

Spain booked a date with Russia in the Semi-Finals of the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in Gdynia, Poland, after taking out hosts Poland 84-54.

Jordi Fernandez's team had no mercy on the home crowd and jumped out early on the Poles.

Ten players got on the board for Spain, led by Laura Herrera's 20 points off the bench.

Shooting guard Marta Xargay seconded her with 15 points on 3-for-5 shooting from behind the three-point arc.

"This was our best offensive game of the tournament," said coach Fernandez.

"Each time I brought a player off the bench they provided something, so that allowed us to use our rotations and rest some players."

His team's defense wasn't too shabby either.  Spain held Poland in just 20.9% shooting from two-point range for the game and caused 19 turnovers.

The Spanish had six first-quarter steals to trigger their fastbreak that pushed them to a 30-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Poland's Agnieszka Skobel provided about the only positive offense spark for her team, scoring 18 points to go with five boards.

Spain now face a rematch of sorts - in the EuroBasket Women 2009 in Latvia this June, Russia's senior side beat the Spanish women 77-61 in the Semi-Finals.

"Yes, there is an extra motivation to play Russia" said Laura Nicholls who, along with Alba Torrens and Tamara Abalde, suffered that loss in Latvia firsthand.  

"I want to beat them and we are focused on that."

For coach Fernandez, the key to a win tomorrow is playing Spanish basketball and not letting Russia's size advantage upfront determine the outcome of the game.

"What the textbooks say is that we shouldn't let them play in the paint," said Fernandez.

"We need to get out and run and not get into a five-on-five game where they can do damage."

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