Day 3 Women: ESP 91 - NZL 57
Spain rolls again, awaits USA
ATHENS, August 18 - Spain kept its record perfect intact and clinched qualification to the Olympic Women's Basketball quarterfinals with a dominating 91-57 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday at Helliniko Indoor Arena.
The victory means that Spain (3-0) and gold medal defender the United States (3-0) will play on Friday for exclusive control of first place in Group B of the preliminary round.
A 26-2 run that lasted most of the first quarter settled the matter quickly and Spain played with mostly reserves after halftime.
Laia PALAU paced the winners with 15 points, while Nuria MARTINEZ came off the bench to score 14 and Amaya VALDEMORO added 10.
Teenage guard Angela MARINO again led New Zealand (0-3) with 21 points. Donna LOFFHAGEN added 16 and Gina FARMER 14.
For the second consecutive game, Spain blasted off soon after the opening tip. PALAU scored her team's first seven points. Soon, VALDEMORO was dropping a pair of 3-pointers and the race was on. Spain didn't stop scoring until it had a 32-8 lead after 10 minutes.
New Zealand did not give up, but rather whittled at the deficit throughout the second quarter. MARINO found openings in the Spanish defense for 10 points in the quarter, which helped keep New Zealand within 45-29 at the half.
With most of its starters out, Spain tightened its defence in the third quarter and kept grabbing most rebounds. PALAU's scoring was needed, and with her six points in the quarter, plus a late 3-pointer by MARTINEZ, Spain was up 65-38 after 30 minutes.
A succession of three-pointers to start the final quarter opened a 32-point lead, at 74-42, and Spain could start thinking about its matchup on Friday against the U.S.
CEBRIAN Elisabeth, Centre (ESP)
"We started the game very concentrated and focused. We defended hard and as such had a very good beginning. From here on out we will have to focus on players individually and try to improve our offensive rebounds."
VALDEMORO Madariaga, Forward (ESP)
"We never expected this game to be as easy as it was. We came of very strong and very fast in the beginning and played very hard and organize defense. We are all thrilled with the result but we do still have to focus on our weaknesses, such as being more patient with our turnovers."
Source: Athens news service