Spain end Fiba Olympic Qualifying tournament on a high and qualify for Beijing



Spain go the olympics

For Spain this FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament has not been easy. However they have recovered in their quarter-final match to beat Cuba and qualify for the Olympics games in Beijing.Elisa Aguilar was the hero of the evening with 28 points.

The Story of the match

The beginning of the match was electric as Amaya Valdemoro and Yakelyn Plutin traded shot for shot (5-5) in the first ninety seconds.

ElisaAguilarElisa Aguilar (left) got the home fans on their feet as she hit a trey from 45° to give Spain the lead once again. The outside shooting then came to an end as both sides started to play more in the paint. Spain held the advantage midway through the first period (11-9).

Yayma Boulet from Cuba started to dominated the boards and eventually Plutin gave Cuba the lead for first time in the game (13-12). The game became more intense as the lead changed hands on each score with Spain taking the advantage (16-15).

Cindy Lima was brought into the action for Spain and replaced Lucila Pascua to add more fight under the boards.

However it was Plutin who scored to put Cuba back in front (17-16) 11 seconds from the end of the first period.

Bench Player

In the second quarter Spain were fast out of the starting blocks. Aguilar set up a fast break which Laia Palau finished with a lay-up and a foul. Yet she missed her shot and Suchitel Avila got up to the other end to score for Cuba.

The game was getting faster and faster. Palau finished off another fast-break and this time hit the free-throw. Anna Montanana then did all the hard work of getting in the paint but decided to pass out to nobody. It was Ineides Casanova from Cuba to pick up the ball and race up to the other end. She took a shot from the baseline but within the arc to score (21-21).

Spain quickly reorganised themselves and scored. Aguilar hit a trey and then followed this up with a tap-in after Isa Sanchez' lay-up rimed out (26-21).

Cuba were quickly back in their strides when Yulizeny Soria hitting a trey. Though Spain counter-acted, it was Cuba to score again with Boulet hitting a floater to bring the sides level once again (26-26).

The cat and mouse game continued and the teams were level again at (30-30).

Spain opened the first significant gap of the match by scoring 7 unanswered points (37-30) as they matched their hosts physically.

Cuba picked themselves up in the last minute of this period to score 5 points.

Evaristo Pérez then called out a time-out with 20 seconds remaining in the first half. Aguilar set up the last play as she ran the clock down before handing over to Palau who drove to the basket and drew the foul. She hit her free-throws and Spain went into the locker room leading (39-35).

Valdemoro hit the first shot after the break as Spain changed their system of play. They became more patient and worked on moving the ball around the zone before driving inside. Just under four minutes into the quarter they had a 10-point lead (47-37).

Cuba quickly found a solution by closing in on the Spanish players forcing them to turn over the ball. Cuba were able to score 4 points as a result.

Yet Spain changed systems again and set up Aguilar who hit a three-pointer (52-41).

Cuba, now forced to chase the game, switched to full court press. This tactic caused Spain problems. However Aguilar was on hand to hit a trey.

Oyanaisy Gelis responded with a three-pointer for Cuba. But a couple of free-throws from Aguilar gave Spain a 9-point advantage at the end of the third period (59-50).

ElisaAguilar

The result of her winning the possession ended with Aguilar (left) hitting a three-pointer 20 seconds later. Valdemoro, still on a high, then stole the ball from Soria and went all the way to score (66-54).

With just under six minutes left in the game Alberto Zabala called for a Cuban time-out.

Cuba's tactic was simple. They started to shoot from beyond the arc. Although they were successful on two occasions they could do nothing to stop Aguilar adding 4 more points to her tally as Spain kept Cuba at bay (72-62).

Afterwards Spain paced themselves to victory (78-65).

Olympic qualifying tournament Box Score

After Match Comments from Spain

Elisa Aguilar Spoke in English and was lost for words to explain her feelings. She went on to congratulate all the players and staff for making all this possible.

Laia Palau speaks in French and explains how happy she is that dream has come true and what a feeling. She also said the Cuba played well but at the end Spain wanted it more.

Laure NicollsLaure Nicolls spoke in English and Spanish. She is excited about the Olympics and is going to practice more and more and she hopes to comeback with a medal.

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Olympic qualifying tournament picture credit: MIGUEL BORDOY CANO for action pictures


Date: 13 June 2008


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