KARLOVY VARY (2010 FIBA World Championship for Women) - Spain reached the podium at the FIBA World Championship for Women for the first time ever on Sunday by beating Belarus in the bronze-medal game.
Beaten soundly by the United States in their Semi-Final less than 24 hours before, Spain bounced back to win 77-68.
The team got huge lifts from Sancho Lyttle, who missed the game against the Americans with a back problem, and Alba Torrens.
Lyttle had 22 points and 11 rebounds – both game highs – while Torrens scored 19.
"I thank God that I recovered and I was able to help my team today having missed the Semi-Finals,” Lyttle said.
“It has been a great experience to play at the World Championship and achieve our aim and win bronze makes it all the more pleasing."
Belarus, who were playing at the FIBA World Championship for the first time, had suffered a painful overtime defeat to the Czech Republic on Saturday night.
Spain, with Lyttle leading the way, had an extra spring in their step while Belarus looked to have a hangover from a very hard Semi-Final.
Torrens helped Spain get off to a dream start.
She had 17 points in the first half when they led by as many as 18, yet Belarus managed to reduce the deficit to 41-34 at half-time.
A jump shot by Yelena Leuchanka four minutes into the third quarter cut Spain’s lead to 46-45 but Jose Ignacio Hernandez’s team stayed in front.
Laia Palau, Amaya Valdemoro and Torrens hit jump shots to take the advantage to 52-45.
Belarus got no closer than four points the rest of the way although they kept the pressure on.
An Anastasiya Verameyenka jumper cut Spain’s lead to 71-65 with 3:20 to play, but Anna Montanana scored down low as Spain stayed in front.
Valdemoro ended up with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists while Montanana scored 12, pulled down four boards and had four assists.
Verameyenka led Belarus with 20 points and five rebounds while Leuchanka scored 14 and corralled six boards.
“I’ve won many things in my career, but I never expected to win this,” Valdemoro said.
“This is big for Spanish basketball and for the generation that are coming into the national team.”
You can see replays of every game of the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women in their entirety at FIBATV.com.