Spain's record in FIBA Europe youth competition is such that they always start as the favourites. Once again they hung on to beat France (55-53) in the first quarter-final.
Mariona Ortiz was the match winner for Spain with her soft touch around the basket. However it was the explosive burst of Laura Gil during an 8-0 run that swung the match in favour of Spain for good.
For France Sara Chevaugeon was perfect from behind the arc 3-of-3. But at crutch time she did no get the ball and any chance of a big shot from her at the end of the game had disappeared.
A short video interview with the Spanish head coach Anna Caula below:
On the very first attack Alice Nayo for France scooped the ball into the basket. All the five players continued to attack the basket like a storm of angry bees.
France scored the first 9 points of the game and Spain only got on the scoreboard at the 5:32 mark.
Spain actually dominated the offensive rebounds but failed to score from all their second-chance opportunities as the ball just would not drop.
France continued to punish Spain's turnovers to take the first quarter (16-10).
Mariona Ortiz from Spain then threw her weight about in the second quarter with 6 points with her side being right back in the game (21-23) midway through the quarter.
The teams were back on level term with 2 free throws by Inmaculada Zanoguera with 4:38 to play before the break.
The machine was in full swing with Queralt Casas taking over from Ortiz as the main focus of attack.
France started to struggle in all areas of the game leaving the road open for Spain to go into the locker room leading (31-26) with Ortiz and Casas combining for 20 points.
Sometimes the best form of attack is defense. That is what France did to start the third quarter. Sara Chevaugeon hit her third trey of the game which was quickly followed by 2 points from Christelle Diallo to bring the teams back on level terms.
France continued to defend high forcing Spain into mistakes. Adja Konteh took advantage to put France back in front (33-32) with a drive along the baseline.
The rest of the quarter was an interesting exchange of excellent youth basketball from both teams with key players making important decisions.
Spain edged back with fast break transitions to go ahead into the final quarter (41-38).
The final quarter started with France in the driving seat when they levelled the score after an unsportmanslike foul (46-46).
Laura Gil from Spain chose this moment to explode offensively for her side to go on an 8-0 run to break the game open with just under three minutes to play (54-46).
France were brought back into the game with the Romane Bernies finding the target time and time again (51-54).
The last minute was tough and the game could have gone to any team. Spain were more clever not allowing Chevaugeon to get hold of the ball as they just edged out France (55-53).
Spain: Marina Delgado 0, Andrea Vilaró 0, Yurena Diaz 0, Inmaculada Zanoguera 3, Mariona Ortiz 21, Queralt Casas 12, Elena Diaz 0, Claudia Calvelo 0, Maria Espana 1, Sara Rodriguez 2, Laura Gil 16, Marta Claret DNP
France: Romane Bernies 9, Agathe Degorces 2, Claire Stievenard 0, Alice Nayo 8, Margaux Galliou-Loko 2, Hélèna Akmouche 0, Sara Chevaugeon 13, Adja Konteh 6, Jodie Cornelie 0, Sarah Ousfar DNP, Christelle Diallo 8, Marie Mbuyamba 5
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