Spain break Swedish hearts, reach final


Spain fended off a valiant effort by Sweden to reach their fifth straight final of the Termosteps U16 European Championship Women with a 38-33 victory in a defensive battle in Katowice.

The four-time champions came back from 10-point third quarter deficit and scored the game's final five points to end Sweden's fairytale dreams of reaching the final.

The 2006, 2005, 2004 and 1999 title-winners were led by eight points and six rebounds from Laura Gil while Yurena Diaz scored seven points and Elisabet Vivas hit a couple of big shots in adding six points. Spain survived shooting just 29 percent for the game and will face off with Italy in Sunday's final.

Farhiya Abdi (Sweden)
Farhiya Abdi (Sweden) scored 10 points

But Sweden made just 23 percent from the floor, including 1-of-19 three-pointers. Salome Kabengano and Farhiya Abdi both led the Swedes with 10 points.

Spain jumped ahead 4-0 and did not allow Sweden to score until nearly three minutes into the game when Abdi scored. But Amanda Zahui was hit with her second foul and Sweden could not handle the Spanish pressure, committing three straight turnovers as Jose Ignacio Hernandez's team charged out to a 10-2 advantage. Spain, however, went cold and missed their final nine shots of the quarter and the Swedes were able to push ahead 11-10 despite Abdi also getting booked with her second foul of the first period as well.

Kabengano completed the 12-0 run spanning the first two quarters while Vivas ended the eight-minute scoring drought with two foul shots to make it 14-12. But the Iberians' shootig woes continued as Amaia Segues's jumper was Spain's first made basket i nearly 10 minutes - a span of 13 shots - to trim the margin to 20-14. And a three-pointer by Diaz would bring Spain to within 22-19 at the break.

Both teams continued their hard-nosed defense though the Swedes were able to score a bit. Zahui knocked down a turn-around jumper for the first score of the quarter after nearly four minutes played. And Abdi's driving lay-up made it 29-19. The Spaniards finally scored for the first time in the third quarter on Gil's jumper with 1:55 left. Diaz would add a free throw and Vivas knocked down a jump hot just before the buzzer, leaving Spain down just 29-24 after three periods.

Vivas connected to start the fourth and the game was tied when Diaz drained a three-pointer from the left wing with eight minutes to play. Queralt Casas's driving lay-up gave Spain the lead 31-29. Sweden finally scored their first basket on a Zahui jumper with four minutes left and a Zahui tip-in evened things at 33-33 with 1:40 left. Mariona Ortiz's jumper put Spain ahead again 35-33 with 1:17 to play. Sweden, however, turned the ball over on their final three possessions while Marina Delgado made one foul shot with 15 seconds to make it 36-33. Kabengano threw the ball away with nine seconds left and Delgado scored just before the buzzer for the final scoreline.

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