Quarter Finals Women: BRA 67 - ESP 63
Brazil outlasts Spain for third consecutive semifinal
ATHENS - Known mainly for its scoring prowess, Brazil used its defence to reach a third consecutive Olympic Games medal round by winning a tense 67-63 quarterfinal decision against Spain on Wednesday at Olympic Indoor Arena.
Brazil, the bronze medallists from Sydney 2000 and silver medallists from Atlanta 1996, now advance to the semifinals against the winner of Australia vs. New Zealand later Wednesday. The semifinals will be played on Friday.
In a game that featured 17 ties and lead changes, Brazil proved more resilient in the end.
Marta FERNANDEZ came off the bench and almost saved Spain, scoring 14 points herself in the last 6 minutes. However, after FERNANDEZ tied it 59-59 tied with 1:12 remaining, Brazil hit eight perfect free throws, all but two of them by veteran Janeth ARCAIN, to foil Spain.
ARCAIN led the winners with 27 points, making 11 of her 12 free throws. Leila SOBRAL and Alessandro OLIVEIRA, with 8 rebounds each, led a 43-33 advantage on the boards for Brazil.
FERNANDEZ finished with 16 points in 13 minutes, while Rosa SANCHEZ popped in 12 more points for Spain
Brazil established its game first, jumping to a 12-7 lead as ARCAIN and Helen LUZ poured in four points each. Amaya VALDEMORO started Spains reaction with a 3-pointer, then Laia PALAU finished the quarter with a jumper that tipped the balance toward the Spaniards, 16-14 after 10 minutes.
The lead changed several times in the second quarter. Triples by Marina FERRAGUT and VALDEMORO put Spain in front 22-19, but Brazil went on an 11-2 run to surge ahead 30-24. Three more late shots from the arc two by SANCHEZ and a buzzer-beater by Elisabeth CEBRIAN let Spain tie 34-34 at halftime.
Spain took a 43-39 lead, its highest all game, on a 3-pointer by Nuria MARTINEZ midway through the third quarter. Then ARCAIN rescued Brazil with five points of a 10-3 run to take the lead at 49-46 after 30 minutes.
With five points from Kelly SANTOS, Brazil had its highest lead, 54-48, when FERNANDEZ entered with 6:14 remaining. She drove to the basket at will for layups and foul shots until a 59-59 tie was forged. Spain could not stop Brazil after that, because Iziane MARQUES and ARCAIN were perfect at the foul line, and OLIVEIRA came up with a couple big blocks on defence.
Now she, ARCAIN and the rest of their team will go for a third consecutive medal.
Brazil will play either Australia or New Zealand in the Women's semifinals at 16:45 on Friday 27 August at the Olympic Indoor Arena.
Alessandra OLIVEIRA (BRA), Center
On the game:
"It's the Olympics and we are in the semifinal. We knew it was gone to be a very tough game. We were focused and we did something Brazilians don't really like: We played defense. We got the rebounds and managed to win a really good team".
On the semifinal:
"We do not know if it is going to be Australia or New Zealand, but the sure thing is that we want to get the final and fight for the gold medal".
On the crowd:
"It was amazing that the gym was so crowded. The Greek fans are very warm and passionate and we invite them to watch us in the semifinal to support us".
Marta FERNANDEZ (ESP), Guard
On the game:
"We did not play very well. We had a bad day in offense. Brazil got the rebounds. We tried to recover in the second half. We worked on defense. We did not surrender. We always fight until the end, the way we do in every huge game we have to play. We tried to do our best. It is a pity, but the fact is that we had a bad day in a crucial games".
Adriana Moises PINTO (BRA), Guard
On the game:
"It was a very good game. Spain is a strong team. We have read some thing that we did not like in Spanish newspaper. They wrote that Brazil is an easy opponent. And those things gave us a great motive. Today we proved that basketball is played inside the court. I am very happy and I am looking to play against Australia. We will fight very hard. However, we know that Australia is the favorite."
Helen Cristina LUZ (BRA), Guard
On their victory:
"Today, we play with all our heart. We really wanted to win this game. It was a matter of honor for us. We played like this was the first game of the Olympic Games. I think that the people who came to watch the game should really enjoy it."
Janeth ARCAIN (BRA), Forward
On her record:
"Today is a special day for me. Not only we won, but also I become the first scorer in Brazil's Olympic history. I am 35 years old and I have participated in four Olympic Games. I belong to both generations of this team."
On the next game:
"We are playing against a very strong team. We must be concentrated and focused. I think that the key of the game is going to be the defense."
|Press conference quotes:|
Laia PALAU, Guard (ESP)
"We are very disappointed. We were able to be in the game for most of the time, but in the last minutes, when the game was decided, we didn't make the right decisions."
Vicente RODRIGUEZ, Head Coach (ESP)
"To win this game we had to control the defensive rebounds and not give Brazil second chances. We were outrebounded, 43-22, and Brazil earned many free throws, 29 to our 14. They also did better than us in two-point shots."
Antonio BARBOSA, Head Coach (BRA)
On the game:
"It couldn't have been different. It was a tough game, and we were nervous in the beginning, because we could have lost all what we had earned until today. Spain is a very strong team, and we know that we came here to play against strong teams. In (the 2002 World Championships in) China, we had finished first in our group, and we lost in the quarterfinals to Korea, who had finished fourth. Now the pressure is off, we are in the world's top four, and maybe we can play better."
On a comment allegedly made by a Spanish technical official, that Brazil was an easier opponent for his team than Russia:
"I respect his opinion, but he shouldn't have made this statement. He should know that such comments give your opponents extra ammunition."
On the upcoming game, probably against Australia:
"Clearly we will be going against the other three top teams in the world. I wouldn't rank them. Anything can happen. We must be vary careful, because Australia is very strong in defense, makes few mistakes and plays with intensity. However, we beat them in the last World Championships."
Janeth ARCAIN, Forward, Team Captain (BRA)
On the game:
"Very tough game. Spain started playing aggressively, but we used strong defense to win. There was anxiety on both sides, but I feel we had a great game."
On her record of 505 points, more than any Brazilian female player in the Olympic Games:
"I am very happy. I play in my fourth Olympic Games at age 35, and I feel I have to share this record with all the teammates I played with in Sydney and in Barcelona."
On the possible clash with Australia:
"Australia is an extremely strong team, with excellent players that have been together for a long time. We will face them as equals."
Source: Athens news service