Big Guns Ready For Re-Match

17.07.2011

Final Preview

10. Anastasiya Shilova (Russia), 11. Anastasia Logunova (Russia)
Will Anastasiya Shilova and Russia be able to celebrate again after the final buzzer in the Final?

The most dominant team of the tournament so far will meet the defending champions in a mouthwatering matchup for the final of the U20 European Championship Women.

Spain have swept to the gold-medal game unbeaten, only once looking close to coming unstuck - in their quarter-final meeting with Ukraine. Remove that 67-57 win from their record, and they have won every game by at least 20 points.

They will come up against a Russian team whose copybook is only blotted by a loss to Poland at the start of the qualifying round, but who have otherwise shown an ability to dominate if not quite in the same spectacular way as the Spanish.

Spain could not have asked for a better way to warm-up for the final than their morale-boosting 75-38 rout of hosts Serbia in the semi-final.

The manner of the victory immediately restored their status as favourites after the wobble against Ukraine.

"Yesterday, people asked us if we had found it difficult because of a difference in the level of the groups between Zrenjanin and Novi Sad, but I said the Ukraine game came down to the problems that their particular style caused us," said Spain coach Lucas Mondelo.

"I said I thought Serbia would be better for us, but even I am surprised by the final score of the game."

But just because Spain have answered the questions of a day ago, Mondelo accepts Russia - equipped with the experience of winning a year ago - will present a different kind of test.

"Russia will be very difficult," he said. "It will be a big challenge for us, but all of the games are a challenge every day. In our opinion, the style of the two teams works in our favour. We will have to make it count, but we think we can win."

15. Mariona Ortiz (Spain)
Mariona Ortiz and Spain did not lose so far and will try to make it 9-0 against Russia

The man charged with finding a way to stop the Spain train in its tracks is Russia coach Dmitry Donskov.

His team had a harder time in booking their final place - at least in the first half - but came through with a big second half to come from behind and win 68-52.

"Myself and my team are very happy to have come this far," he said. "We have played very well to get back into the final."

He blamed the sluggish first half on his team being too laid-back after a lop-sided quarter-final victory over Great Britain - something that will not be a factor on finals day.

"At the beginning we were very relaxed because yesterday we didn't have a hard game," he said. "But by the second we played the game as we know how to, and how we need to."

Doing it again against Spain will be essential if Russia are to keep their title.


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