The U-18 women’s team are silver after losing in the European category final to Lithuania (75-78). A defeat which does not tarnish the great work of Bernat Canut and which represents the sixth medal of the summer for Spain in the absence of the two European cadets. Marina Asensio scored the hat-trick to force extra time, but the ball didn’t go in and the national team had to settle for the money.
The absolute has stumbled in 2021 twice. The great disappointment of Valencia, in which Spain interrupted their medal streak (seven in a row) and found themselves without a World Cup, and the setback of the Games, where France dropped the national team from the fight for medals, raised some doubts about the medium-term future of women’s basketball. Among the boys, and despite being able to boast of continuing to be world champions, the Gasols’ farewell also opened up a more uncertain future with the upcoming Eurobasket as a great test to assess health Spanish men’s basketball. But this summer we are experiencing something unusual: the training teams wanted to settle the debate in the best possible way. For the moment, six finals out of six possible with three gold medals and three silver.
Spain started the tournament in Heraklion (Greece), beating Italy with a basket of Ariadna Termis on the horn. They then beat Turkey (56-40) and Poland (65-37) without too many setbacks to end the first phase unbeaten. Against Belgium, in the round of 16, they controlled the match and Elena Buenavida won against Finland (63-52) with 11 of the national team’s last 13 points. France arrived as the best attack in the competition (80.6 points on average), but against the Spanish defense he collected only 36 points (54-36). Against Lithuania, things were quite different.
The Slavic team took control of the opening match (2-8, min. 4), but the national team quickly overturned the score (9-8). Pliatkute’s third foul was also no obstacle for Lithuania, who found the key to opening up the Spanish defence. The Sub-18 had equipped an average of 46.5 points in the entire league, but by the break Lithuania had already scored 37 (35-37) and finished with 78. Elena Buenavida’s self-confidence and Carla Brito’s ability to push inches into the paint allowed Spain to keep a pulse on their rivals, despite the fact that neither the triplets scored (1/9) nor the free throws (0/4).
The defense in the Lithuanian zone suffocated Spain. Partially 0-9 for 43-50, though a minute of inspiration from Buenavida turned the tide (53-52) in the game. The new Valencia Basket player was immense. Every time Lithuania put land in between, a few actions with their signature boosted morale for Spain, which went from a dangerous 56-66 to a hopeful 72-74. Marina Asensio, with a hat-trick 26.1 seconds from the end (75-76), crushed Buenavida’s party (36 points) and Juste Jocyte (28), which put the +3 for Lithuania with 9.9 to go. Asensio, an improvised heroine, had the hat-trick to force overtime… but she did not enter. This silver medal is the 16th medal in this category for Spanish basketball, which has accumulated five gold medals, nine silver and two bronze. Juniors are silver in the best summer to practice basketball.
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