USA National Team Battles Back To Take Ros Casares Valencia 82-72 In Exhibition Play
Valencia, Spain ï¿½ March 18, 2008
The 2007-08 USA Basketball Womenï¿½s National Team fell into a 15-point hole early but rebounded for an 82-72 exhibition victory over Spainï¿½s top pro team Ros Casares in Valencia on Tuesday night. The USAï¿½s points were well distributed as everyone scored with Lindsay Whalen (Connecticut Sun) and Katie Douglas (Indiana Fever) paving the way with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
ï¿½Lindsay did a great job. I thought she showed her veteran experience, not just in the WNBA but also in the international game,ï¿½ said 2008 U.S. Olympic Team head coach Anne Donovan. ï¿½She understands how to use her strengths, which is getting to the rim. I thought Sidney Spencer did a great job. She came in and had to play in the post, she put in a lot of post minutes for us. She really did a nice job getting on the backboard and helping with the flow of our offense. We had some unsung heroes tonight.ï¿½
The U.S. will play its second and final contest of its 2008 Spain training on Thursday, March 20, in Salamanca at 12:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. EDT).
Going up against a team that advanced to the EuroLeague quarterfinals and is in the hunt for the Spanish league title this year, the U.S. knew it had its work cut out for it.
ï¿½What we saw (with Ros Casares) was clearly a team that plays well together, itï¿½s the end of their season, theyï¿½ve been through the EuroLeague and are very experienced and we are not,ï¿½ added Donovan. ï¿½Weï¿½ve got four days in, in some cases. And with some cases even less than that with Seimone (Augustus) and Lindsay Whalen. So weï¿½re just trying to get to know each other, get use to each other. We have to understand that this is the middle of the season for these European teams. The jump ball goes up and theyï¿½re ready to go. We have to adjust, which is what we did tonight.ï¿½
The home team inside the arena, shooting all four of its 3-pointers for the night in its opening run, was as hot as the firecrackers going off outside and sprinted to a 20-5 lead in the first 5:35 of play. The U.S. spent the remainder of the first half and well into the second half trying to erase the deficit, cutting it to 23-17 by the end of the first quarter, 40-38 at halftime and 59-58 with 9:32 remaining.
ï¿½We got off to a rough start,ï¿½ said Douglas, who plays alongside DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics) for the host Ros Casares during the WNBA off-season. ï¿½But then we found a way to dig through it and get the win - we got stops on defense, at the beginning of the game they were getting some easy threes because we werenï¿½t putting a lot of pressure on them. So I think when we turned up our defensive intensity was the key to turning around the game.ï¿½
Ten whistles were called on the USA squad in the third quarter, three more than in the entire first half, and the hosts used that to their advantage. Shooting 6-of-10 from the line in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Ros Casares remained a threat and after five lead changes and seven tied scores, the third quarter ended with the teams even at 56-apiece.
The USAï¿½s defense stepped up, players started to mesh together and the result was a 25-16 fourth quarter advantage as the U.S. clinched the win.
ï¿½It felt good to get out there, playing for USA Basketball again,ï¿½ said Whalen, who added five rebounds, three assists and two steals. ï¿½Obviously I wanted to contribute any way I could. Itï¿½s an honor to be here, Iï¿½m excited about this opportunity and Iï¿½m going to keep working hard.ï¿½
Douglas also contributed two assists and two steals. Katie Feenstra (Atlanta Dream) tallied nine points and five boards; while Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury) and Sidney Spencer (Los Angeles Sparks) recorded eight points each.
ï¿½It felt pretty natural out there,ï¿½ said Douglas. ï¿½Obviously Iï¿½ve been playing with these girls for several months now and Iï¿½m extremely familiar with them, their tendencies and their system so it was good. I know they were a little nervous coming in and playing us. I was proud of their effort.ï¿½
Ros Casares was led by Elena Tornikidou, with 20 points, and Erika de Souza, with 16 points and 9 boards.
Janel McCarville (New York Liberty) returned to Slovakia today due to a prior commitment with her Slovakian professional team.
Donovan is being assisted by Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault.