|16 June 2012|
EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
Sweden claimed one of the most important basketball victories in their history on Saturday with a 78-69 triumph over Spain.
Supposed to be a growing force in the sport and looking to reach the EuroBasket Women Final Round for the first time since 1987 when they came in seventh, the Swedes suffered a narrow defeat in their Qualification Round Group D opener to Romania earlier this week.
But they bounced back against Spain, the No 5 team in the FIBA Rankings for Women.
Lars Johansson's team was so impressive that it opened up a 71-49 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Spain mounted a late comeback and drew to within 75-61 with 4:06 to go on Elisa Aguilar's three-pointer.
Johansson called a timeout to steady the troops but the visitors got even closer with 3:09 left when Spanish youngster Vanessa Blé hit a jump shot.
Veteran Amaya Valdemoro then blocked Elin Eldebrink's shot and the ball fell into the hands of Aguilar, and Spain had a chance to get even closer.
But Aguilar's pass was picked off by an alert Eldebrink and seconds later, Martina Staalvant pulled up for a jump shot on a fast break.
The points stopped the Spanish run and Sweden, who got 24 points from their scoring machine Frida Eldebrink, won by nine.
Eldebrink had 22 points in Sweden's narrow defeat at Romania in midweek in their first Qualification Round game.
The box score is going to make for pleasant viewing for Johansson because his team shared the ball on offense and finished with 21 assists compared to just nine for Spain.
Sweden's 1.91m center Louice Halvarsson had 17 points and five assists while small forward Agnes Nordström had a team-high seven rebounds to go with her four points.
Spain, who had cruised to victory in midweek at home against Bulgaria, got 13 points from Valdemoro and both Cruz and Blé chipped in 11 apiece.