|Angela Salvadores delivered another classy performance, being named MVP of the tournament|
Turning Point: Spain trailed 39-38 going into the fourth quarter, but Angela Salvadores scored on a stylish drive to give the Spanish team a lead which they would not give up.
Game Hero: Tournament MVP Salvadores showed her worth repeatedly, scoring 22 points including the three-pointer which put her team 50-43 ahead in the final period.
Stats Don't Lie: With the teams evenly matched, Spain's 11 steals and 14 fast-break points proved to be vital.
Spain survived a great effort from the Czech Republic to take their third successive gold medal with a 54-49 win in the U16 European Championship Women final.
The gold medal match delivered a fitting climax to an entertaining tournament in Bulgaria, with both teams fighting hard and the result in doubt until the final moments.
The Czech Republic led 39-38 after a strong third quarter, but Spain struck back to take a 50-43 lead with less than four minutes remaining.
Petra Holesinska hit a three-pointer in the last minute to cut the lead to three, and the Czech team were given an opportunity to tie when Julia Reisingerova blocked Iho Lopez's shot.
But the tough Spanish defense stood firm, and Michaela Matuskova's effort fell short to confirm Spain's eighth title in the last ten years.
The Czech team jumped out to an early 8-3 lead as Lenka Soukalova converted twice inside before Holesinska's jumper. But Spain solved the Czech offense, clamping down to limit their opponents to just four more points in the half. Lopez provided the spark for Spain's offense, finding Salvadores with a nice pass before scoring six consecutive points herself.
The run extended to 13 unanswered points before Soukalova's free throw stopped the rot, but Lopez continued with a block on Karolina Maleckova, running the floor to convert the offensive rebound on the other end to put Spain 18-11 ahead.
A nice drive from Salvadores increased Spain's lead, and the Spanish defense was frustrating Reisingerova as she struggled to make an impact, leaving her team 22-12 behind at the half-time break.
Coach Richard Fousek's words in the locker room clearly had an effect, as the Czech team stormed back into the game in the third quarter. Reisingerova was noticeably more active, scoring immediately on a post move before following Tereza Sipova's miss for a put-back.
Holesinska sank a three and Sipova's nice spin move inside cut the lead to five. Salvadores made a three-pointer, but Michaela Gaislerova entered the game and drained two long-distance efforts to leave Spain reeling as the Czech team moved 32-29 ahead.
Laia Raventos brought her team back into the game at the end of the third period, scoring on a great drive before pressuring Matuskova into a turnover in the backcourt to end the quarter at 39-38.
Reisingerova blocked Cecilia Muhate inside and Gaislerova sank a big three-pointer from the wing to keep the Czech team close after Salvadores' strong start to the final period. But Maria Cazorla pushed the ball hard up-court and slipped a pass to Salvadores to convert, and Raventos got a great block on Maleckova before Salvadores drained a three to put Spain seven points ahead.
The Czech team fought hard with the gold medal on the line, but Aida Santana blocked Gaislerova and Salvadores got a hand in the passing lanes as Spain's defense stood up to the challenge. Raventos took a defensive rebound all the way up-court in for a lay-up to put Spain 52-46 ahead, and despite Holesinska's last effort, victory was sealed and the celebrations could begin.
Salvadores had a game-high 22 points, and Raventos added 13 points with three steals and two blocks. Lopez finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Gaislerova led the Czech Republic with 13 points, and Reisingerova had 10 points and six rebounds.
Both teams began to party at the final whistle as the Czech team joined the celebrations, clearly satisfied with a silver medal in front of their vocal travelling supporters. And the party continued during the ceremony as Salvadores was confirmed as tournament MVP, with supporters and players chanting for her during the presentation, bringing a wonderful end to a fantastic championship.