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Fiesta time for Spain after edging out Belgium for third-place finish
TENERIFE (FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018) - Tournament hosts Spain sealed third place and the last podium step at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 after a 67-60 win against Belgium.
Turning Point - The game was finely balanced with just two points separating the teams with two minutes to play when Spanish forward Laura Nicholls drilled two sweet jump shots in quick succession. It gave the hosts the daylight they needed to sneak the victory and Marta Xargay delivered a dagger with 38 seconds left to make sure.
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Stats Don't Lie - Bench points were hugely in Spain's favor at 29 compared to just 7 for Belgium. The losing side also turned the ball over 23 times, while the winning and home side shot the ball well from long-range at 8 of 17.
Game Heroes - In truth, it was a team effort from Spain with no real standout performers, although Xargay did lead the way with some big shots and racked up 17 points as well as snapping up 5 steals. Alba Torrens also weighed in with 15 points, while Laura Nicholls had 10 rebounds.
The Bottom Line - Belgium couldn't match their historic third place achieved at last year's FIBA Women's EuroBasket in Prague but they can be proud of their run to the Semi-Finals. They're now just about everyone's second favorite team and have done women's basketball the biggest possible service with their exhilarating style.
Spain recovered mentally from the disappointment of the Semi-Final loss against Australia and while they dreamed of the Final, they at least had the consolation of grabbing the next best thing. It was also their second medal in a row, having finished second in Istanbul in 2014.
What They Said - "The last six years we've been on the podium, so for me to be back today is an amazing thing, but the fact of doing it every year (for those six years) is incredible. I'm happy because it was a hard championship for us and at the end we really showed our character and our strength. To win after yesterday's (Semi-Final) defeat, it shows a lot of character and I'm very proud of the team." - Spain veteran Laia Palau
"We're still very young so the fact that we can play like this against the top teams it shows that we have a great future ahead. It is up to us to work hard and do our best in Europe, at home and maybe we can all come together again in the national team and do bigger things in the future." - Belgium standout Emma Meesseman
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