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Spanish League Round 7: Spain is not just one country

With Uni Girona maintaining its lead in the Liga Femenina after the weekend's games, one might want to distinguish between Spain, Catalonia and Basque country.

One thing many observers of Spain might not understand is that Spain is a country of cultures that sometimes uneasily coexist with each other.  I was reminded of that fact, oddly enough, by this Twitter retweet from Uni Girona after their win against Gernika.

If you don't recognize the flag - and if the Spanish seems a bit hacked up to  you - it's not Spanish Twitter speak you're reading. The tweet is posted in  Catalan and the flag is the pro-independence flag of Catalonia.  If you go to the website of Uni Girona, all of the game writeups are written in Catalan.  Clearly, Uni Girona has taken a firm stand on the independence of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain.  There are speakers of Catalan in both Spain and France. 

On Sunday, November 9th the residents of Catalonia held a non-binding vote on Catalonia becoming an independent state.  The Spanish high court has ruled the vote unconstitutional.  However, the leaders of Catalonia pressed forward with the vote and warned Spain not to try to stop it.  Early results show that 80.7 percent of the two million Catalonian voters that showed up voted in favor of independence from Spain.

Both Catalonia and the Basque region (homes of Gernika and Gipuzkoa UPV) have had a rather contentious relationship with Madrid.  Historically the central government in Madrid has tried to eliminate the languages of these regions, an effort which reached its height in the Franco dictatorship where for forty years both the Catalans and the Basque were under nationalist oppression.  The rule in that era was "If you are Spanish, speak Spanish."  (For Catalan speakers living in France, the rule was "Speak French, be clean.")

Depending on the case, the use of languages other than Spanish was at the worst banned or at best frowned upon.   Since the end of the dictatorship, Catalan is not only an official language but the official language of education - kids can't use Spanish in schools.  If you try catching a cab in Barcelona while speaking Spanish, you might find yourself having a hard time. As the older generation dies off, the independence movement finds itself stronger as time progresses.

The language spoken in Basque country is called Euskera.  It was banned during the Franco era as well.  A pro-Basque terrorist group called the ETA was formed in 1959 to fight for Basque separatism. After Franco died, the Basque region was also made autonomous but the pro-independence forces have not been as influential as they have been in Catalonia.

So if you're a player going overseas, you might want to pick up a course in Catalan instead of Spainish if you're going to play for Uni Girona (although of course there are Spanish speakers in Catalonia as well).  It helps to be polite and to be aware of local currents at the very least; but if you're playing overseas it's up to you to decide how much you want to get involved in local politics.

Uni Girona 78, Gernika 59

Game play started on Friday with an important between two top four teams. Uni Girona (7-0) remained undefeated in the Liga Femenina with a decisive win on the road against Gernika (5-2).

This was actually a very tight first half game, with Gernika only down 40-37 at halftime.  Girona coach Ramon Jordana knew that his bench wasn't particular deep and did a lot of rotation, and was careful to take advantage of any situation when Bernice Mosby was off the floor.  In the fourth quarter, Noemi Jordana hit a 3-pointer to put Girona up by eight points and the visitors were finally able to put enough distance between themselves and Gernika to get the win.

Jordana was great from 3-point range, hitting four out of six shots and finishing with 16 points.  Anna Carbo shot 8-for-10 from the floor as Girona shot 54 percent from the game and she finished with 24 point.  Ify Ibekwe scored 16 points and five rebounds and Brittany Chambers added nine points in a win that was not decided under the basket - Girona only scored 21 rebounds, but it was better than the 19 from Gernika.

Bernice Mosby and Britany Miller were dominant as usual for Gernika, combining for 30 points and 9 rebounds.  The only other player scoring in double-digits for Gernika was Izaskun Garcia with 10 points.

Bembibre 81, Gran Canaria 75 (OT)

As play started on Saturday, another road team got a win.  Bembibre (4-3) put itself over .500 with an overtime win against the team from the islands of Gran Canaria (2-5).  It is the fourth straight loss for Gran Canaria.

Bembibre got a great start with an 11-0 run to start the game and led 23-13 at the end of the first quarter.  Gran Canaria answered back with a 7-0 run.  Robyn Parks of Gran Canaria had a fantastic game (more later) and the gap was down to 36-31 at halftime.  Parks would strike again at the end of game with a 3-pointer that forced the game into overtime, 65-65.  Despite Gran Canaria's high water mark, Bembibre's Orla O'Reilly and Roso Buch would be the keys to the victory in overtime.

Parks's Twitter handle is @_RobDoTheJob_, and she did the job with 37 points on 12-for-23 shooting and hitting three 3-pointers.  No one else on Gran Canaria even had double digits, not even fellow American Akila McDonald with six points.  Amaya Gastaminza only had three points but added 12 rebounds.

Bembibre's point distribution was more balanced with four players in double digits.  Ariel Edwards had 19 points for the winners, but the real impact players were Rita Montenegro with 17 points/11 rebounds and Roso Buch with 15 points/7 reb/8 assists.

Vega Gimeno of Gran Canaria is reviewed in this clip which shows some game highlights.

Gipuzkoa UPV 55, Ferrol 50

Basque club Gipuzkoa UPV (2-5) got a much needed home win to pull away from the bottom of the table against the visitors from Ferrol (3-4).  The only win Gipuzkoa UPV had before this game was against the winless Campus Promete.

Not much info on this game.  Ferrol was held to just 32 percent shooting and had 22 turnovers.  Furthermore they were sent to the free throw line just two two times during the game...and missed both shots.  In both the second and the fourth quarters Ferror scored just eight points.  In the second quarter, Gipuzkoa UPV was also held to eight and Ferrol took a 28-20 lead into haltime. But in the final quarter, Gipuzkoa UPV scored 17 points and came back from behind while Ferrol struggled.

Miriam Foraste scored 15 points and 7 rebounds to lead Gipuzkoa UPV.  Iulene Olabarria scored 12 points, the only other Gipuzkoa UPV scorer in double digits.

Three players scored in double-digits for Ferrol. Christia Pedrals scored 18 points, Haley Peters scored 13 points/10 rebounds and Denesha Stallworth added 10 points/8 rebounds.  Unfortunately, Peters and Stallworth combined for 11 of Ferrol's 22 turnovers.

Trivia:  Oumul Sarr of Gipuzkoa UPV only joined the team three weeks ago after giving birth to twins in September.  She scored nine points and five rebounds.

Zamora 89, Al-Qazeres 63

A strong second and third quarter where they held the visitors to just 19 points was the key to victory for Zamora (3-4) against Al-Qazeres (2-5).  At the end of the first half Zamora led by 13 and by the end of the third they led by 25.

Looking over the box score, it looks like Zamora won this game under the basket where they held a 43-28 rebounding advantage.  Zamora had 18 assists for the game to just seven assists from the visitors.

Natalia Van Den Adel had 26 points to lead all scorers.  Maria Manzares had 23 points and 13 points for the victors, Daria Mieloszynska-Zwolak scored 15 and Carolina Durbin had 10 points.

Lady Comfort has 17 points and 9 rebounds to lead Al-Qazeres and fellow American Callan Taylor scored 14 points.  Afure Jemerigbe had just four points on 1-for-5 shooting in 17 minutes of play.

Cadi La Seu 65, Rivas Ecopolis 48.

Defending champion Rivas Ecopolis (1-6) continue to struggle as Cadi La Seu (5-2) picks up a home victory and challenges for a top four placing.  (The top four teams go to the post-season.)  It was the fifth straight win for Cadi La Seu as both teams go in different directiosn.

Rivas was down 36-28 at halftime but it was third quarter that killed them as they started cold, not scoring until almost five minutes had passed.  Rivas would only score 20 second half points.  Jose Ignacio Hernandez, head coach at Rivas said, "You play as you train, and we have not had a good week of training."

Key to the game?  Most likely, turnovers and fouls.  Rivas gave up the ball 22 times and sent Cadi La Seu to the line for 23 attempts. Even though Cadi La Seu only hit 13 of their free throws, it was better than Rivas's 11 attempts.

Lyndra Weaver led Rivas with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but had six turnovers.  Angela Salvadores had 11 points and even though Ines Ajanovic had 2 points she also had 11 rebounds.

Laura Gil had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the Cadi La Seu win.  Tyrese Tanner had a relatively good game with 8 points in 18 minutes.  Ali Schwagmeyer only played five minutes and had another "trillion" in the box score.

Conquero 75, Campus Promete 66

Campus Promete (0-7) managed to finish within single-digits of Conquero (6-1) but still remain the only team in the Liga Femenina without a victory.  It's the sixth straight win for Conquero as they get to celebrate at home.

Conquero managed to keep ahead of Promete for much of the game, but at the end of three quarters Campus Promete managed to close to 54-51.  Campus Promete, however, couldn't make anything of the fourth quarter and despite a good showing only had a loss to show for it.

With Aja Parham out with a shoulder injury, Maria Asurmendi stepped up with 25 points.  Maria Pina had 13 points and five rebounds.  Adoara Elonu had 15 points but Chelsea Davis had just two points (but six rebounds) in 27 minutes of play.

All of Campus Promete's starters scored in double digits but they just got eight points from their bench.  Leslie Knight had 10 points and six rebounds and LaNedra Brown had 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

Perfumerias 72, Mann Filter 40

After blowing out Italian team Familia Schio in Euroleague in the middle of the week, Perfumerias (6-1) goes on the road again and blows out Mann Filter (3-4) for their sixth straight win (7th counting Euroleague).

No player for Perfumerias played more than 26 minutes and three of the starters didn't even hit 20 minutes.  Perfumerias outshot Mann Filter 49 percent to 34 percent and won every quarter.  By the end of the third quarter the score was 57-30 and Perfumerias had every opportunity to coast to another win.

Only Belen Arrojo would finish with in double digits (10 points) for Mann Filter.  Samarie Walker would play 32 minutes and end with 9 points/8 rebounds.

With so much rotation, only three players scored in double digits for Perfumerias.  Angel Robinson finished with 11 points/11 rebounds.  Shay Murphy had 10 points and a lot of "Shay Moments" in the game.  Paola Ferrari had 11 points.

Round 8 (November 14th-16th)

Gran Canaria (2-5) at Campus Promete (0-7)
Conquero (6-1) at Uni Girona (7-0)
Gernika (5-2) at Cadi La Seu (5-2)
Rivas Ecopolis (1-6) at Al-Qazeres (2-5)
Zamora (3-4) at Ferrol (3-4)
Gipuzkoa UPV (2-5) at Perfumerias (6-1)
Mann Filter (3-4) at Bembibre (4-3)