Hosts Fall To Spanish Fast Break Express


Spain pulled away in the third quarter and beat tournament hosts Sweden 72-53 to reach the final of the U18 European Championship Women.

Leading 41-37 26 minutes into the contest, the Spaniards went on a 18-4 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and stormed to victory.

Spain got a huge contribution from Vanesa Doukole Ble, who had 17 rebounds to go with her 12 points.

Spain out-rebounded Sweden 58-33.

Queralt Casas and Amaya Gastaminza also scored 12 points apiece for the winners.

"Vanesa Ble joined us the day before the start of the tournament," said Spain coach Carlos Colinas.

"She is from the Ivory Coast and only got her Spanish nationality one week before the tournament.

"She had not trained with the team but what we knew is that she is a player capable of doing what she did tonight.

"She dominates at both ends of the basket and that is what this team needed.

"It's a big merit for her and I'm delighted that we have reached the final."

Colinas' side led for the first 12 minutes of the game but Sweden battled and Cleopatra Forsman-Goga's three-point play gave them a 16-15 advantage.

The lead then changed hands six times and had three ties before Spain, trailing 22-21 midway through the quarter, went on a 14-4 spurt to lead 34-26 lead.

Forsman-Goga's first three-ball of the game reduced the deficit 35-28 at the break.

Sweden, looking to reach the gold-medal game for the first time in their history, scored 13 of the first 19 points in the third quarter to close the gap to 41-37 with four minutes to go in the frame.

But Spain scored the next four points of the game to start their big run.

Sweden did cut the deficit to 61-51 with three minutes to play but got no closer.

"It's very difficult to limit Spain," said Forsman-Goga, who led Sweden with 17 points and seven rebounds.

7. Mariona Ortiz (Spain)
Mariona Ortiz had 9 pts and 6 rbs in a balanced Spanish attack

"They are just too good at both ends of the floor.

"We held on for two quarters but we couldn't keep up with them.

"Now we must look ahead and recover for the bronze-medal game."

Both teams struggled shooting the ball from long range but Spain were superior inside the arc.

They were 27 of 62 (43.5%) while Sweden finished 12 of 36 (33.3%).

Unbeaten Spain will now take on the winner of France versus the Czech Republic in Sunday's final.

"Probably when I go to bed tonight, I will reflect on the tournament and what we have achieved here," said Colinas.

"Regardless of being unbeaten in this tournament and of individuality, one thing that makes me proud is that above all, we have proved that we are a team."

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