Uni Girona wins its first Copa de la Reina

The Uni Girona conquered the first Queen’s Cup of its history after beating Valencia Basket (72-62) in a final in which it knew how to impose its experience, the maturity of knowing the way against a newcomer and growing rival and the desire to crown a frustrated chase in the four editions previous. At 41, captain Laia Palau raised her 11th Cup to the sky at La Fonteta, the fifth in Spain, the 33rd title in her club record in 24 years of career. “We have been through a lot, like all teams. It has been a very difficult year, a busy season, and we are very happy to give this joy to the city and the club. We have had the courage to overcome difficult moments and to defeat a champion like Salamanca in the semifinals. We went to the final with the confidence that we know how to suffer. No matter how bad the situation was, we have endured and made a very cool basketball ”, analyzed Palau, with nine points, three rebounds, five assists and a PIR of 14 in a service record only surpassed by the mvp Chelsea Gray (10 points and a PIR of 16). After beating their Salamanca ogre in the semifinals, Girona played free against Valencia, who weighed the responsibility of the host and the illusion turned into anxiety. The defense of the Catalan team cut the wings of the taronja force. Sonja Vasic, Julia Reisingerova and María Araujo completed the plan against a Valencia supported by Rebecca Allen.

It was the fifth consecutive cup final for Uni Girona, the first without Perfumerías Avenida in front of it, the wall with which the Catalan team collided in the four previous editions in search of its first title. And the premiere of Valencia Basket in the fight for trophies. The heiresses of the historic Ros Casares (eight times League champion and seven Cup champion between 2001 and 2012) rose to the elite in April 2018 and the club taronja At that time, he started an ambitious project built around a large collection of national talent (Cristina Ouviña, Queralt Casas, Leticia Romero, Laura Gil, Raquel Carrera …). Valencia as a symbol and platform for the reconstruction of the Endesa Women’s League after almost a decade of withdrawal and survival. 10 years ago Perfumerías conquered the Euroleague and put an end to almost two decades of absence of Spanish teams in the continental list, since the pioneers of Dorna Godella were proclaimed champions in 1992 and 1993. In 2012, the success was more and Spain boasted of the first European final in its history with the duel between Rivas Ecópolis and Ros Casares. However, after the continental title of the luxurious Valencian project came its immediate disappearance and the league went into a deep depression. Now, the renaissance of women’s basketball in Valencia marks a growing momentum, only slowed by the pandemic.

The Cup settled amid the echoes of the bustle. Just a year ago, the Multipurpose Sánchez Paraíso pavilion in Salamanca packed its capacity of 5,000 spectators in advance, with the fans given over to a cup party that, coinciding with International Women’s Day, had an emotional run-up to the final. The entrance of Her Majesty Queen Letizia and the chords of the national anthem gave way to an image loaded with symbolism with a tribute to the historic María Planas, 83, the only Spanish basketball coach (between 1979 and 1985). This time, in La Fonteta, the situation imposed sobriety. But, under the motto ‘Equality is trained every day’, the final between Uni Girona and Valencia responded to expectations by level, intensity and balance and even had the setting of a brass band that cushioned the emptiness of the stands.

The pulse between Laia Palau and Cristina Oviña marked the staging. The captain of the team imposed her seniority before the effervescence of Ouviña and Girona implanted its defensive strength to take over the tempo of the game. The first quarter went from 2-8 to 16-8 with which Alfred Julbe’s team began to mark territory, with Sonja Vasic’s blow to the chin as the only setback. However, Valencia defended themselves with the struggle of Laura Juakaite and the aim of Rebecca Allen and the final went even at half-time (34-31, m. 20). Nine turnovers blurred Girona’s solidity. A poor 2 of 9 in triples weighed down the Valencian options. Two rounds of score and wear. And, in the resumption, the tension turned into a vibrant exchange of baskets. The power of Reisingerova and Chlesea Gray prevailed in that section to the vertigo of the hosts. Rubén Burgos’ team lost their way after conceding a partial 11-4 (from 43-43 to 54-47). Despite Leticia Romero’s notable appearance, this time, Valencia’s reaction fell short. Girona underpinned its moments of lack of fluidity in attack with the selfless work of Elonu in the offensive rebound. Paola Ferrari’s relay gave the Girona better results than Anna Gómez and Trahan Davis in the locals and the finish line turned into a very uphill ramp for Valencia (66-58, m. 34). Sonja Vasic claimed stripes and finished the conquest. On the fifth attempt, the Cup belonged to Girona, the first in its history.

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