07 - 15
July 2018
9 Itziar Ariztimuno Lopez (ESP), NED vs ESP
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The reasons why Serbia can make history or Spain will continue their dominance

SOPRON (FIBA U20 Women's European Championship 2018) - Serbia and Spain are in the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship 2018 Final and this is why Serbia can make history or why Spain will keep dominating.

In a re-run of the 2007 Final, Serbia are looking to make history with a maiden title, while Spain are  appearing in their 9th successive title game.

SRB - Ivana Raca could be an MVP in waiting

The Wake Forest forward has been exceptional and has epitomized everything good about Serbia as a team. Sound defensively, clinical on offense, patient, competitive and perhaps a bit like her actual team, having slipped under the pre-tournament radar. But now she is center of the map in Sopron, with fans voting for her to be MVP in big numbers and Raca having produced sensational displays. She is shooting almost 56 percent for 17 points per game.

SRB - They have an inspirational captain

Serbia are a real team and usually take turns to offer contributions, even if Raca is normally leading the way - or Teodora Turudic. However, they also have Ivana Katanic who it seems, even when she is shooting worse than anybody, she has a great capacity to be smart and contribute in other areas - therefore leading by example. When she was shooting below par in the Quarter-Finals, she still came up with the only triple-double of the tournament. Her leadership is so crucial because if she is not in rhythm, she will find a teammate who is, as well as doing the dirty work off the ball. She loves Sopron too, since she was in the U18 All-Star Five last year.

SRB - They always keep believing

Serbia would like to start strongly in the Final and that is the ideal scenario as with any game, but they have shown a big quality of being patient and resolient in their past games. Not least, the Quarter-Final against Hungary when down by double-digits and then the Semi-Finals against Italy when also in danger of letting the game slip-away. They love the second-half and seem to get stronger as games unfold - something that Spain will be acutely aware of.

ESP - A EuroLeague Women Champion coach 

Just a few months ago, Miguel Mendez was in this exact Arena here in Sopron, delivering the EuroLeague Women title that UMMC Ekaterinburg craved. After that high which was followed by a Russian Championship with the juggernauts, he spoke extensively about his excitement at going back to the youth game and working with young players. He has already shown the edge he brings. During the pivotal one-point win in the Quarter-Finals against France, he knew how to keep his team hanging on and to make the adjustments needed to get the job done. Having a coach who has done it at the elite level is surely an advantage for the holders.

ESP - Serbia will struggle to know the danger source

Does Coach Mendewz himself even know what weapons will fire on any given night? While that can be a puzzle that has to be solved, the play-caller also has so many different options. It can be a double-edged sword because finding your 'best five' is tougher with so many options, but your eggs certainly aren't in one basket! Spain have six players shooting between 7 and 9.8 points per game. So from a Serbian perspective, how do you deal with that in terms of preparation. It is a more difficult scout and quite an unusual dimension in any competition to have a team like this.

ESP  - When history and tradition is on your side

As Spain bid to land a jaw-dropping 7th title in 8 editions, you do wonder if having that weight of tradition and a golden history gives each set of players that added belief. Spain have had some amazing teams, some very good teams and even with this current crop, which some thought might under-perform without any real headline acts as in previous editions, they are still here - 40 minutes from the top podium step yet again. It's astonishing. They just get it done year after year and failures are so rare, it makes it so hard to back against them.

You can follow the last day of the tournament via our Live Updates.