Game Of The Day: Spain vs Croatia

EuroBasket Women 2011
7. Alba Torrens (Spain)
Spain wing player Alba Torrens is the player her teammates will look to when it matters as she is the leading scorer at 16.2 ppg

Spain would not have imagined that they would need a victory on the last day of Round 2 action at the EuroBasket Women in Katowice against Croatia to guarantee a spot in the Quarter-Final Round but such is the case.

The number five team in the FIBA World Rankings for Women, Spain have been nowhere near their best in the tournament with defeats to Montenegro in Group C and France in Group F.

Croatia, on the other hand, have scraped a couple of wins against Greece and, on Friday night, Poland, to set up a do-or-die game against Spain.

Should they prevail, both sides would have the 2-3 records in Group F and the Croatians would advance by virtue of their win in the head-to-head game.

Croatia are without Ana Lelas, their veteran forward who does a little bit of everything and adds much-needed toughness to the squad.

Spain haven't had Amaya Valdemoro since their opening day win against Germany due to a calf injury and that means they have been missing their leader.

Spain coach Jose Ignacio Hernandez knows his team has to be fully focused from the off.

"Croatia is a difficult team," he said. "They are a small team but they are fast and have good shooters and can make life difficult for us."

Head to Head: At the EuroBasket Women 2007, Spain defeated Croatia 63-52.

Last Time Out: Spain won 66-57 over Latvia and Croatia prevailed 64-56 against Poland.

Key Match-Up: Spain's Laia Palau's relentless, suffocating defense never allowed Gunta Basko to become a factor for Latvia and she'll try and do the same thing against Croatia captain Sandra Mandir, a shooting guard who likes to put up three-pointers but also drive to the basket.

Key Stat: Croatia were 10 of 16 from the floor in the first quarter against Poland, a perfect launch pad for victory.

X-Factor: Croatia's back-up center Luca Ivankovic has the size to give Spain problems in the low post but it remains to be seen if she can stay out of foul trouble.

Sounding Off: "Spain is a great team, one of the best in Europe. They have 12 superstars, with most of the players having played in the EuroLeague Women for teams like Halcon Avenida Salamanca and Ros Casares. We expect an extremely difficult game but we know what this game means, a place in the Quarter-Finals, and we will do our best," says Croatia coach Stipe Bralic.


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