|22 July 2012|
Watch the Gold Medal Game of the U16 European Championship Women LIVE on FIBA Europe TV
Sunday at 20:30 CET
|Italy head coach Roberto Riccardi claims that winning the gold medal at the U16 European Championship Women would not only be a historical moment, but also a ray of light for women's basketball in Italy.|
When Spain and Italy meet in the Final on Sunday, they will finish the U16 European Championship Women the same way they started it: facing each other.
For Italy head coach Roberto Riccardi this might not be good news, as he hopes that in his players' thoughts, their 67-48 win is forgotten.
"We need to see it as a different game. Spain has evolved, just like us, and we need to be prepared."
Overconfidence has not been a problem, for both sides.
As Spain started this tournament with a heavy defeat, Italy has also tasted a loss during the Preliminary Round, versus the Netherlands.
But once they entered the Qualifying Round, their defensive work ethic was decisive to put them through to the gold medal game.
Both teams might feel some tiredness after eight intensive games.
But, for Spain head coach Evaristo Perez, this probably won't be seen on Sunday.
"It's a final, these girls know this might happen only once in their lives, so they just want to come in and play, no matter how tired they feel," Perez confirmed.
Riccardi sees it from another perspective.
"Spain has been using seven, eight players, while we could use all the twelve players in each game.
"I hope this pays off during the last game," he said.
In their first match-up in the tournament, Italy out-rebounded Spain, but neither team is a frontcourt powerhouse.
Both have their main strengths in the backcourt, with Elena Capella having presented herself as a very important shooter in the last games for Spain, and Angela Salvadores having shown all her braveness in the Semi-Final against Russia.
Laura Quevedo will, most probably, defend Cecilia Zandalasini, in the Final, and will need to discover a way to stop the strong penetration skills of Italy's star player.
Zandalasini has been leading the Italian team in all forms, while the Spanish have more options, but none so strong to go to in the clutch moments of a game.
"It has been very tough, until now.
"Playing nine games in 11 days, with 16-year-old girls, is brutal.
"But both coaches have enough experience to be prepared for this game.
"All the players will know what to do when the time arrives," Perez stated.
Riccardi hopes to win for the good of Italian women's basketball.
"We're not living a good situation right now, so a gold medal will be so important for the girls, as they need something to build on, for the next years."
It would be also the first Italian title in the history of the U16 European Championship Women, if their team defeats Spain, who won seven gold medals since 1999.
Either way, both teams' way to the title game was based on hard work.
And there's no better way to win Gold than knowing you really deserved it.