Spain become first nation to retain FIBA Women's EuroBasket crown since 1991
BELGRADE (Serbia) - The dominance of Spain at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket continued in Belgrade as they won their fourth title and their third in the last four editions of the tournament.
They completed an eye-catching 86-66 success over familiar rivals France, who continued their own run after having to settle for a fourth consecutive silver medal. It also means that Spain have now beaten their neighbors in every one of their four title wins - 1993, 2013, 2017 and now 2019.
Spanish head coach Lucas Mondelo and his side also had the added satisfaction of breaking a streak of almost three decades in the competition of a champion having never defended their title. The last nation to do so was the Soviet Union way back in 1991.
Spain started hot and France were never able to get a foothold in the contest. Marta Xargay led the way brilliantly with 23 points after lighting it up from downtown and dropping five triples. Laura Gil also came close to a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Astou Ndour had cause for double celebration, being crowned TISSOT MVP, while she was joined in the All-Star Five by her teammate Marta Xargay who starred in the title game.
"What we are doing is amazing since it was the Soviet Union who last won two titles in a row a very long time ago," said Spanish veteran, Laia Palau.
"The way that we won was not expected. But I feel that after Russia in the Quarter-Finals and the tough game against Serbia in the Semi-Finals, we went into the Final with a flow. We played without pressure and enjoyed the game. I am so proud, " Spain veteran, Laia Palau.
Head coach Lucas Mondelo commented: "We felt free after the game against Serbia in the Semi-Finals. We had a tough year after the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, but we felt freedom to play this Final and to enjoy it. There was a lot of pressure at home in Tenerife in our last tournament when we worked to get the bronze medal.
"As we did in Czech Republic in 2017, we came into Final Round and played our best basketball in the last part of the competition and this time especially in the Final. I think that we are a great example that this is a team sport. After a long time I get surprised every day by what my players achieve and the work that they do. I thank all the players and the staff."
Earlier in the day, Serbia thrilled the home crowd to take the bronze medal in front of a large and passionate crowd. They overwhelmed Great Britain 81-55 as Sonja Petrovic claimed a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.
She earned a place in the All-Star Five along with Ndour and Xargay, with spots also taken by Sandrine Gruda of France and Temi Fagbenle of Great Britain who finished as the leading scorer in the tournament with 20.9 points per game.
Meanwhile Spain, France, Serbia, Great Britain, Sweden and Belgium will also represent Europe in next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
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