Spain's suffocating defense led to some efficient fast-paced offense as they beat Sweden 81-69 in the U18 European Championship for Women.
The result was a big blow for Sweden as it ended their chances of securing a semi-final berth. Only a win over last year's runners-up, combined with France beating Russia in the last game at SPU on Thursday,
would have seen them through to the last four.
|Cleopatra Forsman led Sweden on both ends of the floor but it wasn't enough.|
"We made a mistake early on of trying to play them (Spain) man to man. That cost us and then our offense was going horribly wrong. We didn't make the right decisions, took bad shots and committed too many turnovers at the start. They scored 12 of their first 14 points off of our bad plays," said Sweden head coach Jan Engebo afterwards.
"We improved a lot afterwards but against a team like Spain you can't fall behind by 14 points and hope to stand a good chance of winning."
Spain got off to a perfect start, scoring the game's first 14 points while their opponents struggled to do anything right in the game's opening five minutes.
As has been the case throughout this tournament, Engebo's girls eventually got going thanks to a quick burst of offense provided by their perimeter shooters. Frida Fogdemark scored their first points of the game on a three-pointer and it proved to be exactly what they needed to get going as they were within nine, 22-13, by the end of the first quarter.
Spain stuck primarily with a zone defense but also proceeded to trap and double-team at times. The move payed huge dividends as it force their opponents into a flurry of turnovers which the Spaniards often converted into easy baskets at the other end.
In the second quarter, Cleopatra Forsman almost single-handedly kept Sweden with a fighting chance as she carried the scoring load to cut the gap to six, 43-37, heading into the locker room at the break.
They were within seven on a three-pointer by Fogdemark late in the third quarter but that was to be as close as they got.
The win saw Spain finish with a 3-2 mark in Group E of the Qualifying Round but they knew coming into the game that their chances of reaching the semi-finals were already gone.
Still, head coach Carlos Colinas knows there is still plenty to play for.
"We want to finish fifth. That's the best place we can reach in our position so it's what we're going after. It's important for next year's World Championships," he said.
"It's hard to think that we're not going to be in the semi-finals as Spain over recent years has had a lot of success in many competitions. We were hoping to be a part of that."
Cristina Ouvina and Vega Gimeno both had 19 points for Spain while Sweden were led by Cleopatra Forsman's 23 points and 11 rebounds.