|26 August 2012|
Watch the Bronze Medal Game of the U20 European Championship Women LIVE and for free on FIBA Europe TV, Sunday at 18:15 CET
|Netherlands coach Rene Spandauw is sure his players will brush the disappointment of not making the Final aside and fully focus on the bronze medal game versus Turkey|
By Paul Nilsen
There's only one certainty on the last day of action at the U20 European Championship Women in Debrecen, and that's history will be made during the third place game when Turkey and the Netherlands try to clinch a first ever women's youth medal.
Both nations have found themselves in this position at various youth categories previously, the Netherlands for the first time only this summer at the U18 European Championship Women when they finished fourth, and Turkey on more than one occasion has missed out on bronze.
Having been beaten by Russia in comprehensive fashion during their Semi-Final after wilting a little disappointingly during the second-half, Netherlands head coach Rene Spandauw was in a philosophical mood, but certainly grateful he has an added incentive to help pick his players up off the canvas.
"It should be a big motivation for us to make history for sure," agreed the play-caller.
"Everybody is obviously really disappointed because we really thought we could contest the Final but it wasn't to be for us.
"I think the most important thing for us in the Semi-Final was that we had simply not been in this kind of position before - unlike Russia.
"To have to deal with a totally new experience is pretty tough.
He added: "We struggled against the press which Russia put on us in the half-court and we just couldn't move the ball as we wanted to."
"Russia was simply better than us and they thoroughly deserved the win - now we have a great game ahead of us to focus our minds on."
Such straight-talking from Spandauw is refreshing. Not looking for too many excuses but simply focusing on the task of penning an exciting new chapter in the history of women's basketball back home.
Turkey meanwhile will still be ruing their poor first-half performance against Spain and turning the ball over more than once during the all-important last two minutes.
Whilst to their immense credit, they were able to produce a gutsy and quite magical 18-point turnaround to take a three-point second half lead, it looked as if this monumental effort took too much out of them both physically and mentally.
By the time crunch time came, they didn't have the added sharpness required to see off Spain - even though it was a super second half performance.
For Turkey, the bronze medal game has a wider significance. Due to activity from the Federation and clubs in hosting this year's EuroLeague Women Final Eight, the 2014 World Championship Women and the exploits of the senior team in winning silver at EuroBasket Women last year and recentyl making history with a first ever Olympic Games appearance, women's basketball in Turkey is thriving.
The missing piece of the jigsaw is at least one moment of podium success at youth level. Therefore Turkey is arguably under a little bit more pressure to seize their opportunity although whether this truly permeates through to the players remains to be seen.
Both teams are similar in the respect that they mostly rely on their depth and rotations rather than one or two dominant players, although each does have a selection of potential game winners.
Winning the bronze medal is sometimes viewed as a nice moment buy merely sweetening the bitter pill of not making the Final for some of the more traditionally successful nations at youth level.
However this time, winning the bronze medal will mean even more than you can ever imagine - not just for the individual players, but for Dutch and Turkish women's basketball in general.