Lapena dampens expectations for hosts
ZARAGOZA (2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship) - Victor Lapena has moved to quell expectations for host nation Spain as they prepare to step out on home soil for the FIBA U17 Women's World Championship.
Having reached the Final at the previous two editions of the competition and with a rich tradition at youth level both globally and in Europe, hopes would ordinarily be high of Spain adding to that sparkling resume.
“We had Angela Salvadores and Leticia Romero in the last two FIBA U17 Women’s World Championships when we got a silver and then came close to gold, but now we are a team of workers - Lapena.
Indeed two years ago in Pilsen, the spectacular and memorable 40-point contribution of Angela Salvadores took Lapena and Spain tantalisingly close to a first ever FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship title.
Only this time around, Lapena is being refreshingly candid about a generation who will have to fight to be successful without someone which the play-caller describes as "our Sancho Lyttle" – in the shape of the injured Iris Junio.
"The international scene has changed from the previous years," insisted Lapena, who is currently occupied by senior national team duties in Nantes at the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
"Spain comes [into the competition in Zaragoza] having been fourth at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2015 – defeating Russia brightly, but then losing to both Portugal and Italy after this.
"We had Angela Salvadores and Leticia Romero in the last two FIBA U17 Women's World Championships when we got a silver and then came close to gold, but now we are a team of workers.
"We have to go with a knife between our teeth from the first minute and win every play of every game."
He added, "We can’t go out pressured or conditioned by the previous results of other teams – we have to be convinced by our team of workers."
Spain returned from their warm-up tournament in Florence with a balanced set of results. They beat neighbours Portugal in a third straight friendly match-up – having previously beaten them twice last December. They managed to shut out their derby rivals 49-35 on Italian soil and they will face Portugal again in an eagerly anticipated Group D clash.
They were also in with a chance of beating Italy, but a late surge by their opponents resulted in them being beaten 55-47.
Spain will finish their preparations this weekend by looking to get revenge on Italy, as well as playing further friendly games against Canada and Argentina.