By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA International
Ros Casares cleared on Saturday what was supposed to be the biggest hurdle in their bid for a third straight Copa de la Reina title by beating eternal rivals UB Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Playing at the Pabellon Son Moix before 2,300 fans, the Valencia club won 78-66 after delivering a second-quarter knockout punch against the team they beat in last year's final in Zaragoza.
Domingo Diaz's troops outscored Barca 26-9 in the second quarter and ultimately prevailed to set up a final with Perfumerias Avenida, who edged Cajacanarias 71-63 in the other semi.
Ros Casares forward Marta Fernandez, one of Spain's leading lights at FIBA's European Championships last summer in Greece, will be in her hometown of Palma for Sunday's final.´
|Amaya Valdemoro had 24 points in Valenicia's win over rivals Barca|
"We came to Palma to play three finals," said Fernandez, who finished with 14 points.´
"We have won two and now we have to win the most important game."
Her team, which won the title two years ago against Yaya M Breogan, will start as strong favourites.
"Any team can put you in trouble and we'll not go out thinking that we have won the Cup after defeating Barca," Fernandez said.
The second-quarter was devastating for Barca.
Coach Carme Lluveras had her team in a zone defence that was giving Ros Casares fits until Amaya Valdemoro (24 points) and Elisa Aquilar (13) started hitting from behind the arc.
Most crucial was the failure of Barcelona, however, to make their free throws.
They sank just four of 13 from the line, which allowed the Valencia club to build a huge advantage by the break.
Valdemoro, who earlier in her career played in Salamanca - the home of Perfumerias Avenida - says there is no secret to her team's success.
"It is the defence which is giving us victories," the Spanish international said.
"When one player fails in defence, the rest of us focus on helping out so that there are no defensive frailties."
Barcelona look to be a weaker side without Bosnian Razija Brcaninovic, who left the club after a public bust-up with Lluveras.
"There is no doubt that without Razza, this team has lost a lot of force in the low post," Fernandez added, "but with the signing of (Adrian) Williams, they have a player who can score also from outside if you give her any room.
"At times we rushed and didn't find our rhythm, but we knew that if we did what we had set out to do before the game, we had every chance of winning and reaching the final."