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The Olympic celebration for Spain’s women’s basketball team is on. The Spaniards are guaranteed to receive the country’s first medal in the sport at the Rio Games.
They’re so excited the party might still be going on, even with Saturday’s final looming.
Alba Torrens and Astou Ndour each scored 14 points as Spain defeated Serbia 68-54 Thursday, and the Spaniards were barely able to contain their excitement as the final minutes ticked off the clock, dancing and hugging before running on the court to celebrate.
Torrens struggled to put into English exactly how she felt about Spain finally being an Olympic medalist.
“It’s something amazing,” Torrens said. “To win a medal is a dream.”
Spain will play either the U.S. or France in the gold medal game Saturday. In group play, Spain lost by 40 to the heavily favored Americans.
After the final horn, the Spaniards took their time, soaking in the moment. They posed for group photos after the buzzer; about the only thing they didn’t do was cut down the nets. Torrens said this is huge for Spain, which has worked so hard to bounce back after missing the 2012 London Games.
Spain won the Eurobasket in 2013 and silver at the 2014 World Championships. This is the European nation’s fourth Olympics, and Spain’s best finish previously was fourth in 2008. Torrens said this team’s accomplishments are shared with everyone over the past few years who worked so hard to return to the games.
“Today I think that it pays off, but how I say it’s not only that the people who’s here, it’s from all the people who work in this team and for Spain basketball,” Torrens said.
Spain reached the gold medal game despite not having center Sancho Lyttle, who also plays for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, due to broken bone in her right foot.
“I think people saw we didn’t have Sancho they thought we couldn’t be as good as we’d otherwise be,” said Spain guard Leticia Romero, who plays at Florida State. “We proved that it’s not just one player. We fight with each other, for each other. We just show it.”
While Spain didn’t seem too concerned about Saturday, neither did the Serbs but for different reasons.
Several disappointed Serbia players sat on the court for a few minutes after the game as if their Olympics had ended. Spain led 20-9 after the first quarter and frustrated Serbia all game. Late in the third quarter Sonja Petrovic’s pass went off a teammate’s hands out of bounds. Petrovic kicked the Rio 2016 boxes bordering the court along the baseline smashing one into pieces.
The Serbs are not done, they have one more game. The will play Saturday for a bronze medal, not bad for a country making its Olympic debut in this sport.
“I feel like we got to put this game out of our mind,” said forward Danielle Page, who played in college in the U.S. at Nebraska. “We have a chance to do something special and make history for Serbia. We need to focus on the opportunity we have rather than the opportunity we lost.”