Italy Look To Slow Spain Down


Undefeated Spain, winner of Group E at 5-0, will take on the two-win Italy in a quarterfinal match-up of two offensive-minded squads.

Spain are without doubt the favourites, but Italy do have the firepower to give them a challenge if they can hit on all cylinders and perhaps catch the Spaniards looking ahead to a possible semi-final clash with Russia or Latvia.

Italy will try to keep the pace slow and work the ball inside to their post players, a strategy which bore fruit in their previous victory against Lithuania. Spain, as always, will look to pressure, create turnovers, and get out on the break. Italy will have to protect the ball and break Spain's momentum with timely scores and good use of their time-outs to keep the score close and try to pull it out at the end.

Head-to-Head: Spain beat Italy 79-64 on Italian turf in EuroBasket Women 2007.

Last Time Out: Spain beat Latvia 67-60 and Italy downed Lithuania 72-58 in their last games of Qualifying Round.

Key Match-Up: Big three versus big three. Spain's Anna MontaƱana at 18.3, Elisa Aguilar at 12.3, and Alba Torrens at 7.3 points per game versus Italy's Laura Macchi at 14, Rafaella Masciardi at 13.7, and Simona Ballardini at 11.2 points per game will be sure to run up the score. The Spanish have more weapons while the Italians will need huge nights from their three scorers.

Key Stat: 70.5 and 55.8. That is what Spain is averaging in points made and points allowed for the tournament, second best in both categories.

X-Factor: Italy's Marte Alexander. Can the center pull another great game out of bag of tricks (17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists) like she had versus Lithuania and stop Spain from going small with Laura Nicholls and MontaƱana in the front court and really getting out and running?

Sounding Off: "I think that Spain are one of the best women's basketball teams in the world. They play like they really enjoy basketball and with smarts. They have very beautiful actions against the zone. They are one of the best teams in the world. If we let them play we have no chance. Our only possibility is intensity in defense and enjoying offense." - Italian coach Giampiero Ticchi on the game against Spain.



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