|27 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
|Milica Dabovic will be crucial to Serbia's hopes, even more so if her sisterAna's knee injury limits her playing time |
By Paul Nilsen
Spain will have to go nine games unbeaten to land gold but, standing in the way of win number eight, is semi-final opponent Serbia, who are still enjoying their remarkable fairytale run.
Last Time Out: Serbia won one of the most entertaining games of the entire tournament, when they hung tough against Italy and came with a late run to take an exciting 85-79 victory. Alba Torrens and Sancho Lyttle racked up a total of 52 points for Spain to carry them to a 75-58 win against Czech Republic.
Key Match Up: Marta Xargay has been outstanding in this tournament from a defensive perspective. A real unsung hero for Spain, her defence has been an absolute joy to watch. She has regularly upset the momentum of opponents by breaking up plays and if Ana Dabovic declares herself fit and moves into the two spot - something likely given her restricted movement - Xargay could be tasked with locking down the biggest offensive danger Serbia have. Even if Ana Dabovic plays only limited minutes should her injured knee not hold up, sister Milicia and shooter Nevena Jovanovic will need to be shackled in her absence.
Key Stat: Serbia are the best offensive rebounding team left in the tournament and average 14.1 per-game. In their quarter-final against Italy, they had more offensive boards than defensive rebounds so Spain will be focusing on limiting their second chance opportunities in this game.
X-Factors: Spain head into the game as favourites and with the two form players in Lyttle and Torrens. They have utilised a surprisingly short rotation recently, but this only underlines that head coach Lucas Mondelo is gunning for gold and will do what he feels right in order to get it. Spain can probably run Serbia off the floor, but it will be very interesting to see if the Serbians can apply the same kind of ball pressure which eventually saw Italy crack. Jelena Milovanovic will presumably face Lyttle, a duel which will be a fun to watch for sure.
From The Camps:
"We will have a great match with an opponent who has no arrogance. In all previous matches in the tournament, they have won them by far, which is not surprising if one takes into account the talent and the quality of their players, clubs where they play, as well as the contracts that they have. They not only have the power of Lyttle and Torrens, but the other ten players , which together, forms a top team" - Serbian head coach Marina Maljkovic is happy to pay tribute to her opponents.
"It will be a tough semi-final game against Serbia. We have to be ready to adapt to things in our own style of playing. We need to go out and play hard." Spanish play-caller Lucas Mondelo.