|Marlés Balart came up with an all-around stellar performance for Spain that included 13 points on 67 percent shooting from the floor, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals|
Spain remain unbeaten at the Global Vision U18 European Championship Women after overcoming the resilient Sweden, 58-47, to top Qualifying Round Group E.
With the first place in the group at stake, Sweden displayed a die-hard performance in front of tournament favorites Spain.
'La Roja' needed their best effort so far to finish off a team that never ceased to believe in the big upset.
And they were not so far off from succeeding.
Spain went scoreless for almost three minutes in the fourth quarter and Sweden took advantage of that to close the gap to three points, 50-47, with 3:18 to go.
It was the moment that Elena de Alfredo took the game in her hands for Spain. First she launched a perfect shot from the three-point line, with the ball touching nothing but net.
Then she rebounded a shot by Amanda Zahui at the other end of the court, ran down the court and nailed a contested two-point jump shot that ended all hope for the Scandinavians, 55-47.
Sweden never scored again, and Marles Balart added three more points on the scoreboard for the winners, all of them from the free throw line.
Balart and De Alfredo scored 13 points each, to lead Spain, and added a combined 12 rebounds and four steals. Andrea Vilaro had 10 points.
Amanda Zahui posted a double-double for Sweden, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but missed all of her three-point shots and finished with 6-for-18 from the field.
Nathalie Fontaine constributed with seven points, five rebounds and three assists for the losing side.