|Iris Junio played a phenomenal bronze medal game for Spain|
Turning Point: A 16-0 run in the second quarter separated the two teams after the tense early exchanges, and though Spain were never able to relax as the plucky French team kept fighting, they relied on their strong defence to keep their opponents at arm's length and celebrate a podium finish.
Game Heroes: Junio had a superb all-round game, scoring 16 of her 20 points in the first half and adding eight rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Stats Don't Lie: France were held to 25% shooting for the game, and 40 of Spain's points came in the paint as they kept attacking and looking for the easier shots on the offensive end.
They Said: "We are proud of our players, they have worked hard all year. We wanted to be playing in another match (the final), but I told the players last night that we had to accept the semi-final defeat, change our mentality and be ready for this game. We knew that the French team has a lot of power and physicality, but we knew that if we worked hard on defence, they would not be able to match our intensity." - Spain head coach Andreu Bou
"We only started playing at half-time, so it's hard to win a game like this. We showed our strength in the second half, but it was too late." - France head coach Catherine Melain
Spain celebrated their 10th medal from the last 11 U16 European Championship Women tournaments with a strong performance against France, pulling ahead in a second-quarter run spurred by stifling defence before holding off all of France's attempts at coming back.
|Blanca Millan Modia had a big impact for Spain|
France's defence gave Spain problems in the first quarter, and Romane Jeanneaux drained a three-pointer to give the French team an early lead. Lucia Alonso had a big block on Sabrina Piper's drive, which led to Paloma Gonzalez slicing through the scrambling transition defence on the other end as the teams finished the opening period even at 13-13.
Marie Foppossi's strong move inside was a rare moment of good French offence in the second period though, as Spain started to move clear. Junio drove all the way through the defence and drew the foul for a three-point play, and then Gonzalez's full-court pass found Blanca Millan running hard for a simple finish.
Alonso attacked French center Gassa Djaldi-Tabdi and finished strongly before Paula Ginzo swooped in for a great offensive rebound that she kicked back out for a second attempt for Millan, whose shot bounced in for a 26-17 lead as Melain called for a timeout.
France weren't able to halt Spain's momentum though, with Junio picking off Clérine Choron's pass and taking it all the way before Millan fed Ginzo with a nice bounce pass inside. Ginzo then got a hand on an entry pass into the post and was rewarded at the other end, her baseline jumper falling as the lead grew to 15.
Alexia Chartereau's put-back stopped the rot, but Junio found Laia Solé rolling to the basket and she finished strongly over Kadiatou Sissoko, drawing the foul too for the three-point play as Spain continued to press, and they reached half-time with a 17-point advantage.
|Gassa Djaldi-Tabdi was France's inside presence|
The French defensive intensity stepped up in the third period, but they were only able to score four points while holding Spain without a basket for the first five minutes. Chartereau swished a three to pull France within 10 but Junio replied with her own long-distance shot from the wing, and she then found Alonso leaking out off a French miss to allay any Spanish nerves.
France regrouped for one last push in the final period, but their hopes were snuffed out as Ginzo recovered the ball from Junio's miss for a simple score, and then Alonso found Ginzo again with a beautiful pass. Sara Iparragirre followed by taking the ball hard at Chartereau to make the score 55-41, and France could not recover.
Ginzo had 12 points and seven rebounds to provide great support for Junio as nine Spaniards got on the scoresheet. Djaldi-Tabdi did her best to provide the inside presence that France needed, adding 21 rebounds and four blocks to 15 points. Chartereau had 10 points and Jeanneaux finished with six assists, but it was not enough to threaten Spain's dominance.