Tania Pérez and Miriam Forasté won the gold medal in the U20 European Championship after defeating Russia in the final 62 to 53.
The spanish team had an impressive tournament winning in all the nine games that they played.
After easily winning in the first six games (+21 against Latvia, +32 against Slovakia, +50 against United Kingdom, +37 against Netherlands, +26 against Italy and +35 against France) and finishing in the first position in the first round, Spain had to play against Ukraine in the quarter finals, rival who was winning during 35 minutes.
Despite having Ukranian standout Alina Iagupova with four fouls in eight minutes, Spain couldn´t find its defense and rythm that had made them an invincible team so far.
Apart from Iagupova (2nd position in 2011 Fiba Europe Best Young Player), Ukriane also had Olesia Malashenko (who averaged 11,8 points and 5,9 rebounds in FIBA Cup and 9,3 points and 4,6 rebounds in French League and also 3rd position in 2011 FIBA Europe Best Young Player) and in another level Olga Maznichenko that is two superstars in the age and also a well known player.
After starting the game losing in the first quarter (9-13) and reach half time with seven point déficit (22-29), the spanish players improved in the third quarter (43-46) to tie the game at half of the fourth quarter (55-55) and destroy Ukraine in the last five minutes with a great defense and also due to Iagupova out of the game with five fouls. Final score was 67 – 57 in the worst game of Spain in the Championship.
Leonor Rodríguez was key for Spain, being the true leader of the team when things got worse. Also Mireia Vila had a good and solid game and Tania Perez (excelling in defense druing the championship and only one who could stop a bit Iagupova) and Queralt Casas who broke the game in the last minutes after getting some of her typical steals.
Spain won because of its higher intensity and desire to win more than for solid percentages.
Despite the horrible shooting (27 of 83), Spain shot 32 times more than Ukraine and grabbed 26 offensive rebounds.
Once this first obstacle was surpassed, Lucas Mondelo´s girls played against the home Serbia in a difficult challenge but against a team with a more orthodox style of play.
U20 Serbian National Team had lost post player Tina Jovanovic in the first games of the Championship after suffering her second serious knee injury that weakened the team.
However, Serbia still had one of the best posts in the Championship, Sara Krnjic, who despite her youth already had good Euroleague experience and also promising center Tijana Adjukovic, new Spanish League Player and ex Wisla Krakow Maja Vukurovic and Sharp shooter Marina Markovic.
But that was just the theory. Once the game started, the brutal defensive intensity of Spain opened the gap in the first quarter (16-6), continued in the second (40-20), destroyed Serbia in the third (61-24) and qualified Spain for the final in the fourth (75-38), hurting Serbia who was a toy in the spanish hands.
Statiscally it´s not easy to win by 37 points when you score just 32% from the field.
A team has to do other things to compensate that. In this case shooting 93 times, when Serbia just shot 44 (incredible) and grab 61 rebounds, 39 of them offensive (did any team ever do this in a serious game?). This explains why Spain won by 37. When shots aren´t going in, you need desire and the spanish team was full of desire.
So after this exhibition, Spain qualified for the Final against Russia,who beat them in last year´s final.
Rusia reached the final after a good first round , only losing against Poland (66-72), another team with heart.
The Russians had a nice roster, specially with Anastasiya Shilova (who destroyed Spain in 2010), post Alexandra Tarasova and also Veronika Dorosheva.
Queralt Casas was the key player for Spain in the first half, scoring 16 points and leading the team to a eight-point advantage at half time (29-21).
Russia recovered and after a good third quarter (42-40) made things difficult for the spanish players even though Spain really wanted to be Champion and won the last quarter 13-20 to win the gold medal.
Finally Spain was again U20 European Championship four years after Dominguez,Carbó,Argüello and Pina won the gold in Sofia 2007.
Queralt Casas was named in the Best Five of the Championship and also MVP after scoring 21 points and 6 rebounds in the Final and average 11,8 points 5,9 rebounds and 3,4 steals per game.
Tania Perez has been an important piece, averaging 4,2 points 2,1 rebounds and 1,2 assists in 16 minutes and being a nightmare in defense for her rivals. She was one of the best backcourt defenders in the championship.
Míriam continues stepby step. After not making the team in 2009 and playing just 10 minutes in 2010 (she scored 9 points),Miriam has played 44 minutes in which she scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds with good percentages.
To sum up, this has been a big success for the Spanish women basketball after the disaster of the Senior National Team in the European Championship 2011 and proves that our basketball has interesting prospects that can become a reality in the upcoming years.