Spain Hands First Loss to Canadian Women

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PUERTO MONTT, Chile – The Junior Women’s National Team (JWNT) suffered their first defeat in the quarter-finals of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women at the hands of Spain, 69-55. Despite it being their only loss of the tournament, the JWNT are now out of medal contention.

“In the first half we didn’t make shots,” said Head Coach Rich Chambers. “Spain physically beat us up and we didn’t execute or box out.”

The JWNT were led by a team-high 14 points from Nirra Fields (Lachine, QC) and 12 points from Michelle Plouffe (Edmonton, AB). Wumi Agunbiade (Pickering, ON) added nine points in the loss. As a team, Canada shot only 28% (17-61) from the field; while Spain shot 44% (27-61).

For the second straight game, the JWNT were out-rebounded by their opponents, as Spain held a 42-33 rebounding advantage over Canada. Katherine Plouffe (Edmonton, AB) led the way defensively, grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Sister, Michelle and Korissa Williams (Windsor, ON) added six rebounds each.

Despite Spain’s 3-3 record heading into the game, Coach Chambers knew that they were in for a battle.

“Spain could have been first in their pool,” added Chambers. “They could win this whole thing. We weren’t ready to play and when that happens it’s on us (coaches).”

The JWNT got off to a sluggish start, going down 8-2 in the early going. They would finish the quarter matching Spain’s offensive efficiency, but still trailed 17-10 after the first frame. The JWNT continued to keep up with Spain in the second and third quarters, but could not make a run to cut into the early deficit. They continued to trail heading into the fourth quarter, 50-39.

In the fourth quarter, the JWNT ran out of gas trying to cut into the Spanish lead. They were only out-scored 19-16 in the quarter, but the JWNT eventually fell to Spain and ended their hopes to play for a medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship.

Despite the loss, Chambers realizes his team accomplished feats that no other Canadian team has and his team should be proud of their achievements.

“We’ve set some milestones here,” continued Chambers. “We’ve represented our country unbelievably well. Our goal now is to finish 5th.”

Canada will now play the loser of Japan and Australia in the classification round. The game is set for Saturday, July 30 at a time still to be determined. The game can be followed online via FIBA Live Stats at www.chile2011.fiba.com, while the semi-finals and finals can be seen live at www.FIBATV.com. Game summary and box score will be posted at www.basketball.ca.

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