|21 March 2013|
|Angel McCoughtry is expected to have a major influence on this clash |
By Paul Nilsen
Fenerbahce head coach Roberto Iniguez isn't thinking about potentially making history when he takes his team into Friday's EuroLeague Women Final Eight semi-final against Good Angels Kosice.
The play-caller may stand a mere forty minutes away from overseeing the progress of the first Turkish club into the Final of the competition, but the magnitude of such a potential accomplishment is wasted on the reigning EuroLeague Women champion coach.
A few minutes spent with the Spaniard and you can't help but be impressed by his tunnel vision and determination to only focus on the technical adjustments which will help his team shoot down their last four opponents.
"Other people at the club and the rest of the staff may be thinking about history and things like this, but I am too focused on winning this basketball game," said Iniguez.
"You just have to be cold as a coach and only think about these small details, because this is what will make the difference against a team like Kosice and especially because we know each other very well after meeting twice during the regular season.
"We have similar rotations and they are a very good team."
Having won the title in his first campaign with Ros Casares last year, Iniguez is acutely aware of the concentration and level required just to actually make it to the prestigious title game, let alone finish top of the podium.
And, he made a point of referencing last year in Istanbul, when Fenerbahce had the opportunity to move to the Final, but blew their big chance with a semi-final loss to Rivas Ecopolis.
He insisted, "Everyone was speaking of the Final last year even before the semi-final game with Rivas and I know it was with a different coach and there were some different players, but we still have to remember this situation.
"This Final Eight tournament is tough for everybody and I told my players before it started, that we would have to win five games in a row. But since then, we only ever talk about the next game - this is the only way.
He continued, "I am a lucky coach to have these players with me now and it was the same last year for me at Ros Casares.
"I try not to make comparisons because they are different players, a different team and we also play differently. Even Final Eight itself is slightly different.
"It's very difficult to make any changes for these big games, because we just want to play our own game which we have been doing all year, trying to get a little better with each and every day.
"Sometimes we can be irregular because our style is not easy.
"It's difficult to have a good running game, with a nice balance inside and also strong defence.
"But, if we play our kind of basketball and with confidence then I can be happy."
|If Allie Quigley locks in her long-range shot, she will prove to be more than a handful for Fener. |
Breakdown: Fenerbahce won the first meeting between the teams 93-91 and Good Angels won the second encounter 66-63 so this is a decider with a huge amount at stake with the form book suggesting it might be close. Kosice are likely to be able to relax and enjoy the ride, whereas there is some pressure on Fenerbahce - something which can have an adverse effect on even the most experienced of players and clubs. Kosice will fancy their chances if they can keep it close heading into crunch time, because Fener arguably do not have a clutch player to determine a tight game, despite their excellent depth. There's a big challenge in the paint for Petra Kulichova and Plenette Pierson against Ivana Matovic and Anastasiya Verameyenka, whilst Miljana Bojovic and Allie Quigley will go up against Cappie Pondexter and Birsel Vardarli in another super and fascinating contest in the backcourt.
Key Match Up: There are some truly fantastic match-ups all over the floor in this semi-final and it could be a Slovak Republic player who has the most important job of the night. The valuable contribution of Lucia Kupcikova often flies under the radar and despite often starting, she doesn't get the wider recognition in the same way as many of her team-mates. But, she will deserve some headlines if Kosice win and she can keep Angel McCoughtry in check in the small forward position.
Stats Don't Lie: Allie Quigley has had a quite wonderful season, but is 6-of-23 in the last couple of games and so Kosice could do with her getting back to her best against Fener. Kosice commit more fouls than any other team in the competition with 21.2 per-game and still top the offensive rebounding chart.