Spain: Antelo Targets Glory

22.07.2005

From Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA International

Rising Spanish star Jose Angel Antelo has gold on his mind as he aims to propel his national team to the Under-18 European Championship final for men in Belgrade.

The 18-year-old appears to have found his touch after pouring in 25 points to inspire his team to an 86-80 triumph over Russia that has placed Spain in the semi-finals.

"I didn't expect to have such a good tournament," admitted Antelo to PA International.

"The European Championship is always a competition that inspires you to show your best and I am really enjoying this tournament.

Jose Angel Antelo (Spain)
Antelo is averaging 21.5 ppg and 14.2 rpg in Belgrade
"The truth is that we are playing good basketball and now it's time to fight for the medals.

"We are not leaving Belgrade without a medal."

The Real Madrid forward is optimistic ahead of Saturday's game against Turkey, a team that warmed up for the clash against the Spaniards by beating Italy 85-69.

"They are very strong side," said the 2.03m tall player.

"We will have to defend well and keep a close eye on Cenk Akyol, who is their reference player.

"But if we concentrate, there's no reason why we cannot win."

According to coach Luis Guil, Antelo is one of the most promising youngsters Spain has ever produced.

"Jose is our reference in attack," Guil told PA International.

"He played his best game against Russia and I'm especially happy because he not only had a fantastic performance individually but also helping the team.

"I think that he has learned a lot in this tournament."

Guil knows his youngsters face a difficult challenge against Turkey, a team that remain unbeaten in the tournament.

"Turkey have the best collective play of all the teams in the competition," admitted the Spanish coach.

"We know them well and we are ready to play against them."

Morale is high in the national team, with Spain having all to play for and little to lose.

"Before we came here, our aim was to reach this stage," said Guil.

"We've done this and it hasn't been easy.

"Our quarter-final group was extremely difficult, we've had to play against Russia and Serbia & Montenegro, while Israel have made all the teams sweat."

For this reason, Guil believes that Spain have what it takes to be crowned European Champions.

"We've proved our worth," he said.

"And now we are not renouncing to anything."

Provided they win against Turkey, Spain would either meet Italy or hosts Serbia & Montenegro in Sunday's final.

"We played our worst game against Serbia & Montenegro but we still managed to net 54 points against them and we are currently scoring an average of 80 points, which is a positive note," Guil added.

"We know Italy well and we know we can also beat them."


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