Spain will travel to the quarterfinals of Tokyo 2020 in the wagon of the best, the one of the first of the group whose prize is to avoid the United States in the quarterfinals, thanks to a win against Canada (66-76) managed from the defense and the aggressiveness that surprised the North Americans.
The early morning that cost so much before the debut against South Korea seemed, this time, to ally with the Spanish. Whatever they had for breakfast, it suited them so well as to star in a brilliant start (13-23 in the first quarter) that gave no respite to a Canadian team whose sheets seemed to stick.
Cristina Ouviña, key in all the offensive pulls of the Spanish team with 15 points and 7 assists, Astou Ndour (20 points and 11 rebounds) and Laura Gil, which was a lock in defense (8 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals), led a Spain that Jorge Garbjosa, the president of the Spanish Basketball Federation, watched at the Super Arena in Saitana.
Spain started plugged, intense in the pressure, with a 0-5 led by an active Ouviña. Nirra Fields came off the bench to lift the Canadians, but Ndour and Gil dominated the paint and Canadian coach Lisa Thomaidis had to stop him when she saw that Spain could leave (11-17, min. 3).
What the North American coach would have said came to nothing when Queralt Casas, hitherto unnoticed in the championship, chained a past hoop with a layup after stealing over Fields (11-21, min. 8). The final 13-23, and especially the 6 Canadian turnovers, showed which defense was prevailing.
Canada put one more point of aggressiveness and Spain ran out of ideas in attack. Things had to change, and after a 10-4 Canadian run (23-27, min. 14) Mondelo called his team to the bench. The Spanish still did not circulate the ball well or hit the triple, but they stole and ran, and with that it was enough to maintain the initiative at halftime with 34-40 in the mail.
The passage through changing rooms was good for the Spanish team. They came out again intense, quick to steal and run, and with the first triple of the match, from Ouviña, they put a 0-9 for the maximum difference of the duel (34-49, min. 23). Thomaidis called his own before the true danger of a Hispanic getaway.
As true as that a series of spectacular defenses by the Spanish and the second triple by Ouviña put those in red within two tens of difference (36-56, min. 26). Spain stole, ran and enjoyed, although it began to rush and gave seven points in a row to the Canadians, led by the young Laeticia Amihere (20 years old), who added 6 points in this final part of the quarter to give life to the Canadians: 47-60 at the end of the third.
The scare continued, because Miranda Ayim, a triple from Kia Nurse and the aforementioned Amihere they lit the red lights of a Spain precipitated in attack (54-60, min. 32). Canada had already competed against Serbia until the end, and was not going to do something different against the Spanish, with Nurse assuming gallons, but with a response from Alba Torrens’ two triples, until then less successful (59-68, min. 35 ).
Torrens was joined by Ndour, taking advantage of the result of three good Spanish defenses under the basket and tranquility returned to the scoreboard: 61-74 with 2.59 from the end. The Canadians did not stop pressing, but Spain had it tied. The 66-76 final confirms that they will travel to the quarterfinals in the group of the best.
66 – Canada (13 + 21 + 13 + 19): Nurse (14), Colley, Carleton (9), Rancock-Ekukwe (4), Achonwa (9) -the starting five-, Fields (9), Pellington (3) , Alexander, Amihere (10) and Ayim (6).
76 – Spain (23 + 17 + 20 + 16): Domínguez (4), Ouviña (15), Torrens (12), Gil (8), Ndour (20) -initial quintet-, Casas (8), Carrera (6 ), Cazorla (2), Conde and Palau (1).
Referees: Jung Yu (TWN), Leandro Lezcano (ARG) and Yevgeny Mikheyev (KAZ). Without eliminated.
Incidents: match corresponding to the third day of Group A of the women’s basketball tournament, played at the Saitama Super Arena, without spectators due to the sanitary measures against the coronavirus pandemic.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.