Host Spain came with an impressive CV in this competition. Eurobasket champions, World Cup runners up from 2014 and World number 2 on the FIBA World Women Rankings, a boisterous home support and favourites on paper to win Group C.
However, they suffered the upset of the tournament losing their last group game to debutants Belgium 63-72.
The Silver medallist at the last FIBA Women’s World Cup in 2014 will have to get through to the knockout stage via the tough route, quarterfinals qualifiers and Senegal in their way. Senegal who themselves have their eyes set on making history, is looking to secure their first appearance in the knockout stage after 8 previous championship appearances as Spain wants to make it their 3rd straight knockout trip on the bounce – 2010 and 2014 Bronze and silver medal conquest respectively in their 7th appearance at the World Cup.
HEAD TO HEAD
Senegal and Spain have managed to dodge each other at the World cup but met recently at the Rio 2016 Olympics where Spain took the preliminary round game 97-43. It is the only meeting between both teams in international women’s basketball.
KEYS TO WIN
Clean the glass (Rebounds): Just as expected in their last game against China, Senegal will be up against even a more efficient and experienced front court in Spain. Coincidentally, this battle will be against a sister in Spanish colours Astou Ndor who stands at 6 foot 5 inches.
Bench Scoring: Astou Traore has far been the most efficient scorer on the Senegalese team. She will need support from her team mates. If Senegal are to upset Spain today. It has to be a team effort today.
3 Points Scoring: Spain is averaging 34.8% from long range. Ana Cruz and Martha Xaray have proven to be one of the most dangerous shooters in the tournament. Senegal face a barrage of 3 point shots.
Points in the paint: Naturalised Senegalese Astou Ndour will be a torn in the flesh for her country of birth today. Ndour is the leading scorer for Spain averaging 13 points per game. Laura Nicholls also would be an handful
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Spain: Astou Ndour, Martha Xaray
Senegal: Astou Traore , Yacine Diop
Written by Femi Adefeso. Twitter: @IncredibleFemi