In a matchup of two of the top teams in the FIBA Olympics Qualifying Tournament, Brazil eeked out a 71-68 victory over host Spain Wednesday to win Group C and set up a quarterfinals matchup with Belarus.
Brazil and Spain had both clinched quarterfinal berths by beating Fiji, but today’s game was still meaningful in terms of matchups. While Brazil will face Group D runner-up Belarus, Spain will have to take on Group D winner Cuba.
Brazil led most of the way, but Spain got within one in the closing seconds after a three-pointer by Anna Montanana. After Iziane Castro Marques knocked down a pair of free throws, the Brazilians intentionally fouled, eventually putting Amaya Valdemoro on the line with under four seconds remaining. She accidentally made her second shot and, after two more Brazil free throws, Spain got only a desperation attempt at a tie.
Storm center Kelly Santos scored 10 points for Brazil, struggling from the field (2-of-8 shooting) but making all six of her free-throw attempts. Santos pulled down four rebounds. Castro Marques led the Brazilians by scoring 18 points.
Quarterfinals will take place on Friday, and if Brazil defeats Belarus, that will secure a spot in this summer’s Olympics. The losers of the four quarterfinal games will play on with one last Olympic berth on the line.