|09 July 2009|
Spain opened Group A play with a strong 76-50 win over rival Turkey.
Spain coach Jordi Fernández had said during the run-up to the tournament that Turkey never let you "play comfortably", and this turned out to the case, at least for the first two-and-a-half quarters.
Spain had opened a 46-26 lead in the early minutes of the third quarter on a Tamara Abalde jumper (11 points), but Turkey then turned up the defensive pressure and made one last run.
Durdane Gumusay (10 points) pulled up and drilled a three pointer with a defender in her face at three minute mark cut lead to thirteen, and moments later Yelda Kavazoglu hit a lay-up to bring Turkey to within to 12 (50-38) at 2:43 mark.
But that would be the last time Turkey would move the scoreboard for the next eight minutes.
Spain did not let the opportunity go to waste. The key play came as the third quarter came to a close. Larua Nicholls (9 points, 11 rebounds) grabbed a missed free throw and put in back in as the buzzer sounded to put her team up by 21 (59-38) going into the fourth.
"I always go all out when it comes to getting rebounds," said Nicholls.
"It is an important part of the game, you can't score if you don't have the ball in your hands."
Spain continued to pour it on in the fourth while Turkey could not buy a basket till the game was out of hand. Abalde made a bank shot, guard Cristina Ouvina (9 points) drilled a three 64-38, and Abalde scored again on a spin move in the paint. The run was capped by a three-pointer from Marta Xargay (7 points) which broke the 30-point mark for the Spanish lead (69-38).
"We are very happy with the win. The first game is very important, although there are many things we can improve both on offense and defense," said Alba Torrens, who led Spain with 13 points to go along with eight boards.
Nicholls couldn't agree more.
"The first game is the most important one to win. It is the one that stays with you."
Spain's dominance was manifest in almost every aspect of the game. They out-rebounded Turkey 47 to 29, dished out 18 assists to only four and shot 55% from the field compared to only 39% for Turkey.
Germany Hold Off Ukraine
In the group's other game Germany held off a resilient Ukraine to get the day one win 74-40.
Ukraine's comeback effort was led by Olena Samburska, who scored 22 points to go with 4 assists.
Germany was paced by Svenja Greunke's 18 points.
The two teams offered the fans in Gdynia an evenly matched contest that went down to the wire.
Germany came out firing. They opened up an 11-2 lead on six points by center Julia Trogele and a Greunke jumper pushed it to 16-4 with a little over four minutes to go in the quarter.
Ukraine's Kateryna Dorogobuzova (13 points) hit two free throws to cut the lead to single digits, but a three pointer by Greunke sent Germany into the second quarter up 23-12.
Ukraine fought back in the second quarter and took the lead, 28-27, on a three pointer by Taisiia Bovykina (16 points) with under five to play in second.
Germany got their offense into gear and the two teams traded punches till the have-time whistle blew with Germany in the lead at 33-31.
A three-point play by Stina Barnert (14 points) put Germany up eight (40-32) early in the third quarter.
But Urkaine didn't get let the lead get away and stayed close through the next few minutes till a Olena Samburska jumper cut lead to four (45-41) with three to go in the quarter.
The very same Sambruska made a two-plus-one with :12 seconds to go in the third to cut the deficit back to two points (51-49) going into the last ten minutes.
Germany continued to lead, but could not shake a pesky Urkaine that would never give up. Seeing another eight-point deficit, Sambruska once again stepped up scoring four straight to get the lead back to four (59-55) and forcing Germany to call timeout with 6:30 to play.
Sambruska scored to cut it to two (63-61), but then Greunke scored two put backs (the second off her own miss) to push lead back to six with 3:51 to play. Then Arina Lysyck hit a three to get in back to a one-point game with 2:·77 to go (66-67).
Germany hit six-of-eight free throws in the final minute to hold on to the win.