USA v Spain: Five must know factors for the Final
DEBRECEN (Hungary) - When the last game tips off at the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Debrecen, it will see two very familiar teams slugging it out for the precious silverware.
Here's the lowdown and five things you need to know about the title game between the USA and Spain.
This title game is a three-peat
USA defended their inaugural 2010 title against Spain two years later in Amsterdam
That's right, this is the third time in the history of the competition that we have had a USA v Spain Final. The first was 2012 in Amsterdam when Spain were very competitive but went down 75-62. Rebecca Greenwell had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The other time this matchup happened with the title on the line was in 2014 and it is still the most talked about Final. USA managed to win the trophy, but only did so after an absolute epic game, sneaking a 77-75 triumph to deny eventual MVP Angela Salvadores who scored 40 points in defeat for Spain.
Has the start to a game ever been more important?
USA have been jumping out from the tip-off on teams and wasting no time stamping their authority on games
There might be those who say it isn't how you start, but how you finish that is most important. But when it comes to this USA team, they are so impressive at jumping out all over teams. They didn't do that in the early games, but in recent ones they have hit top gear as soon as the ball goes up. They look to dominate early, not only physically, but it has a big mental impact.
Spain came back from a double-figure deficit in the Semi-Finals against France, but really don't need to hand USA a jump start. Coming back against the reigning champions will be an altogether different uphill struggle. More like a mountain. The more scrappy the first five or ten minutes the better for Spain. So it will be interesting to see what strategies they can put in place to frustrate and slow down that slick USA flow and momentum.
Is this the best USA team ever at #FIBAU17?
Is JuJu Watkins of the USA a potential MVP in waiting?
if you want a measurement of how difficult the assignment is for Spain, there is a justification for this USA team to be right up there in the discussion as to whether they are the best roster to have appeared in the competition. It's true that individually, they might not have quite as many standout names that have caused a buzz at previous editions. JuJu Watkins, Breya Cunningham, Jaloni Cambridge and Jadyn Donovan have been highly influential, but it is collectively that they are truly locked and loaded every time they step out.
Defense and boxing out is where it's at for Spain
Awa Fam Thiam of Spain has twice as many rebounds as any of her teammates
Spain are not necessarily a great rebounding team and so if they want to keep pace, then boxing out will have to be the best it has been all tournament. Because you really don't want to give USA any second chance points - denying them in the first place means you have done a good job. But Spain must be absolutely ruthless and finish that job by completing these plays. Additionally. Spain might have to take a few more risks on defense. They zoned France well to shut them down, but USA have got it all and some steals and fast-break scores would really inject some life into Spain.
Fairytales do happen... (well they did once at least)
USA lost a big game in 2016 when they went down in the Semi-Finals against winners, Australia
No matter how red-hot favorites the USA are, they are gunning for a fifth title in six editions. Not their sixth title in six editions. That is because they were beaten by eventual 2016 champions Australia in the Semi-Finals. While this USA roster looks a whole more talented and united, it is nevertheless evidence that anything can happen.
Plus when you throw in the fact they almost lost to Spain in that 2014 game for the ages, while also losing to Russia in the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup Final in 2017, it's really not a matter of how many USA will win by on Sunday.