Late Run Earns Spain Deserved U16 Title

21.08.2011

U16 WOMEN

Spain took gold at the European U16 Championships for Women, producing a determined and brilliant performance to beat Belgium 67-43 in the final.

10. Leticia Romero (Spain)
For Leticia Romero and her team-mates that was a well deserved title

But the Spanish - led by a game-high 20 points from Marija Arrojo - had to work harder than they had done in any of their previous eight victories in Cagliari, even going briefly behind before eventually claiming victory to repeat their success of two years ago.

It continued an amazing summer for Spain's junior national teams with a fourth title captured. And although the Belgians threw everything at their rivals, they could not quite match the intensity despite an 18-point haul from the tournament's Most Valuable Player Hind Ben Abdelkader.

"It was a difficult game for us but that makes this even more special," said Spain coach Evaristo Perez.

"If it had been easy, then it wouldn't have been such a great final. Our defence really had to take the load on but that's something we preach. And we were able to open up, run the break and pull away finally from Belgium."

Spain compiled a 13-2 run in first half to go 23-12 in front but saw Belgium hit back with a 13-4 burst as they trailed only 33-30 at half-time.

With 6:14 left in the third period, Laeticia Mpoyi left a vocal Spanish support on edge when she put the underdogs 36-35 in front.

The response was ruthless and decisive. A 12-3 spurt sent Perez's team clear heading into the fourth. And they finished in what has become a familiar sight in Sardinia, playing superb defence while rattling off 16 consecutive points to secure the title.

"We played a great quarter-final, the perfect game in the semi-final and here, we kept it close and even passed them at one point," said Belgian coach Arvid Diels.

"But the fourth quarter has been their best quarter throughout the tournament and they did a terrific job."

For Perez, it completed his personal collection of European medals and his delight was evident.

"Before this I had a silver and bronze from EuroBasket and so I'm delighted to get a gold finally," he said.

"But it's the team who score the baskets. The coaches are just there to help them. But we can enjoy the satisfaction from what they did."


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