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Rhondda serve up vintage over French giants

FIBA Cup for Women

Rhondda Rebels 74     Lender 24
Basket Reims  71

Rhondda Rebels achieved a slice of history with their first ever win in the European Cup last night in  a nail-biting clash against Basket Reims of France at Rhondda Fach Sports Centre

The top of the national league side took things right down to the wire staging a thrilling fight back in the dying minutes to win 74-71.

It has taken the Rebels two seasons, three road trips and six games to achieve the victory and they now look forward to facing Caja Rural Canaria next week.

Manager Andrew Tynan said, "This was  fantastic result, a fantastic night for the Rhondda Rebels and British women's basketball. We have worked so hard towards this and to compete at this level, we fought hard throughout the game and even when we were 11 points down I knew we were capable of getting back into the game."

Coming out with all guns blazing with the belief that this was the one game of their six-match European campaign that they could win, the Rebels exuded determination and confidence  in the first quarter.

The 71-47 defeat in Reims last month, which was missed by key players Shelly Boston and Chelsea Mackey through eligibility red tape, was long forgotten last night as the Rebels continued their continental basketball education.

The scoring was neck and neck in the first 10 minutes and the lead was exchanged several times after the Rebels had clawed back from 13-8 down.

Australian point guard Tammy Goyne sank a three-point basket to draw level at 13-13 and hit another one for a 24-20 advantage at the buzzer.

Conscious of the fact they they also held a first-quarter lead over former European champions Caja Rural Canaria on their visit to South Wales last month, the Rebels were careful to keep up the pace in the second quarter.

No doubt, the full professional French side had the edge fitness-wise but the Rebels managed to maintain a lead for much of the second session only to slip behind in the final minutes to 45-42.

Goyne and Alexsandra Tancevska were again on form with three-pointers as the French side's defence proved a hard nut to crack under the basket.

The differences in the two team began to tell in the third quarter as the Rebels began to lag and Reims remained fresh.

Sydney Olympics silver medallist with Australia Annie Burgess seized the opportunity to showcase her talents by speeding down the court, cutting up the Rebels defence and hitting the target several times.

Reims threatened to run away with the scoring but they were restricted by fouls on Missy Lender who converted her free shots to finish the quarter at 55-63.

There was much for the Rebels to do in the tense final quarter but the last 10 minutes belonged to the home side.

They piled on the pressure and were soon only one point adrift at 65-64. With three minutes to go, the trailed by three points but Tancevska turned over the lead at 70-69.

Fittingly, Goyne, who worked tirelessly and productively for 40 minutes, sank the final points from the free throw line in a tense final minute for an historic first win in the European competition.

Lender top scored with 24 points with Goyne contributing 18 and Boston 14.

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