Imperious Spain Outclass Russia

17.07.2011

U20 Women Final

5. Queralt Casas (Spain)
MVP Queralt Casas signed off with a classy performance of 21 points and 6 rebounds

Spain completed an unbeaten march to the U20 European Championship Women title as they beat defending champions Russia 62-53 in Novi Sad.

Tournament MVP Queralt Casas had 21 points to lead Spain, who proved too quick and nimble for their opponents.

Russia made a fight of it for three-quarters, but then saw Spain outscore them 20-13 in the final stanza to take gold.

The victory saw Spain take revenge for their defeat to Russia in last year's final.

"A year ago we had a shot for the win at the end and we missed it," said Spain coach Lucas Mondelo. "We felt some pressure from this because Russia are a very good team, but we showed now we can beat them."

Mondelo's team won thanks to their superior defense and speed that no other team could deal with.

"We had a problem at the start of the tournament in that we don't have a lot of shooters, so we needed to defend a lot, and apply a high level of pressure.

"Against a team like Russia, they have very good shooters who can score the three, but that is not our game. Instead, we relied on defense, rebounding, and running the court and with this we were able to win."

The win completes a memorable treble for Mondelo, who collected the EuroLeague Women and domestic crowns with Halcon Avenida.

"I won't ever forget this year," he added.

Spain finished the first quarter on top 16-10 and, after allowing Russia to close the gap slightly, reeled off an 8-0 run, capped by Amaya Gastaminza's lay-up, to go 24-14 ahead.

Russia, feeling the full force of Spain's pressure defence, hoisted up eight three-point attempts in the first-half alone, but missed all eight. When Alexandra Tarasova's came back off the rim to end the second half, they trailed 29-21.

Russia scored the first seven points of the second half to close the gap to one on Yana Panevina's three-pointer.

It was another three from Evgeniya Finogentova that gave Russia a lead, 35-34, but Spain went straight to the other end to go back in front as Tanja Perez drew a foul while scoring a lay-up and added the extra point.

But Spain's harrying defense was forcing turnovers and they moved back out in front, 50-43, on Laura Gil's lay-up with seven minutes left.

Lay-ups from Leonor Rodriguez and Casas put Spain back up by double figures as they moved 54-43 ahead.

Casas then made it an 11-0 run with a huge three-pointer as the clock ticked under three minutes.

Back-to-back three-pointers from Shilova gave Russia hope as they moved to within eight points, 57-49, but Vega Gimeno nailed a three to push Spain clear once more, and there was no way back for Russia.

Rodriguez finished with nine points for Spain, while Gimeno had eight.

Shilova scored 18 and added 11 rebounds for Russia.

Russia coach Dmitry Donskov praised Spain as deserving winners.

"The way they rebounded, they deserve the medal," he said. "Spain are on a higher level than the other teams.

"We are disappointed to lose, but I can be proud of the way my team played against a team of Spain's calibre."


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