France Fall Under Weight Of Spain Offense

27 July 2009

Spain's offensive firepower led them to a 75-69 over hosts France in the Qualifying Round at the U18 European Championship Men 2009, in Hagondange, France.

This entertaining game lived up to the old adage that basketball is a game of runs - and on this day, Spain made the bigger, better and more important ones.

"It's always a tough game when you have to play the host nation," said Spain head coach Alejandro Martinez afterwards.

"But we had some supporters too and we were able to give them a good win. It was a very difficult game because of the atmosphere but also on the court because we allowed France to get 15 offensive rebounds in the first half.

"We did a better job keeping them from getting second chance points after the break and that was a big key to our success."

Spurred on by the fans, France made a spirited run early in the third quarter to stretch their 40-34 half-time lead into a nine-point advantage, 45-36, on Fabien Paschal's lay-up with 7:43 left in the period.

But Spain then outscored them 21-5 the rest of that quarter - including a run of 14 unanswered points - to take a 57-50 advantage heading into the final frame.

France just could not contain the scoring ability of Joan Sastre, Joan Tomas and Ignacio Llovet who combined for 42 points.

The hosts did their best to make a game of it early in the fourth quarter with Leo Westermann scoring three quick lay-ups to get them within three, 61-58.

But Llovet put an end to that when converted a three-point play and Josep Franch hit a long jumper all as part of an 8-0 run that all of a sudden made it 69-58 for the visitors with 2:42 left to play and France could only close to within six on the final scoreline.  

The Spaniards got off to a quick start scoring 11 of the game's first 14 points on their way to a 21-13 first quarter lead.

And they kept that up early in the second period, taking their first double-digit lead of the night courtesy of Joan Tomas with 8:56 left in the half.

France though responded well with Lebrun and Paschal providing some much-needed offense off the bench. The game was tied at 30 on Westermann's three-point play midway through the second quarter.

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