Spain Bounce Back

Spain relied on stifling defense and all-out hustle play to beat Belarus 70-55 as they clinched their first win of the U18 European Championship for Women.

With the offense stalling for the better part of three quarters, last year's runners-up made good use of their trap defense and their strength down low to force turnovers and score on second chance opportunities.

"We didn't get into the game mentally until we were trailing 9-0," admitted coach Carlos Collinas afterwards.

"We did a good job from that point onwards of slowing them down and not letting them play as quickly as they like to."

Vega Gimeno came off the bench to lead the way with 16 points and eight rebounds with Marta Xargay adding 15 and eight.

Spain were unable to get anything going offensively and went without a single point in the first 3:30, missing their first nine attempts from the field and failing to get to the foul line.

They quickly turned to their bench to provide a spark and it seemed to work as they closed to within six, 20-14, by the end of the first quarter.

Belarus stayed in control for a while longer thanks to Maiya Filonchyk and Nadzeya Bodhan, who accounted for seven points in a 9-0 spurt that stretched their advantage to 12, 29-17, with under six minutes left in the half.

That awoke Spain, who suddenly displayed more aggression and determination at both ends of the court as they reeled off 10 unanswered points to take a 33-29 half-time lead.

The two teams traded the lead throughout the third quarter and the early part of the final frame.

Karalina Padshyvalava hit a floater to get Belarus within two, 51-49, with six minutes left but Spain responded right away as Leonor Rodriguez scored on a tough lay up at the other end.

That proved to be the breaking point for Belarus who turned the ball over too much down the stretch, leading to fastbreak points or free-throws for Spain who were comfortably ahead, 61-49 thanks to another 10-0 run.

Filonchyk was the only player in double figures for Belarus with 10 points.


18.07.2008 - By Simon Wilkinson

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