|An injury cloud hanging over Endene Miyem leaves the influential Bourges player in doubt for Sunday. |
By Paul Nilsen
Plenette Pierson has described the third place game with Bourges Basket as a Championship game for Good Angels Kosice, as they bid to wrap up their terrific campaign on a high.
Whilst disappointed to lose to Fenerbahce in the semi-finals, the forward was quick to dismiss any notion that playing for third place isn't the type of game most players truly want to play in.
"Absolutely not, this will be our Championship game," claimed the forward.
"This is actually our Final and we want to win the game, because third place for a club like us would be another incredible achievement.
"I don't think we had a bad day at the office against Fenerbahce, they just played some great basketball and now we want to go and finish this tournament by getting third place."
Head coach Maros Kovacik reiterated the rallying cry of Pierson and is determined to ensure his teams' EuroLeague Women season finishes in style.
He said, "For a small club like us which comes from a small country like the Slovak Republic, it is amazing for us to be playing in this Final Eight.
"Now we have the chance to take third place and we will be doing everything to win the game because it will be huge not only for the club but also for Slovakian basketball.
"To finish third would mean so much to us and would reward my players for the great season they have had.
He added, "I am very, very proud of them and what they have achieved, but I hope we haven't finished yet."
As for Bourges play-caller Valerie Garnier, she also expressed immense pride at the way her team battled their way into the last four.
Despite crashing heavily against UMMC Ekaterinburg in their semi-final, was far from downbeat and simply hoping she can find the bodies to compete since Endene Miyem remains doubtful with the back problem that ruled her out of the last game.
Despite remaining a patched-up team short on numbers, they are a side who in the circumstances, have punched impressively above their weight at the tournament, although they will have to be at their best to climb onto the podium and grab third spot against a Kosice team with a deeper rotation.
Breakdown: Bourges have averaged just 51 points this week and so will have to really try and keep things slow and will probably need to hold Kosice to below 60-65 points to have a real chance of winning. Kosice fell well short of their usual offensive output in their last game and so will want to hit back. Essentially, if Good Angels Kosice play good perimeter defence and stop Dumerc and Johannah Leedham from hitting too many triples, it could prove a long night for the French side who will be left relying on defensive intensity - if they have the physical and mental strength left in their reserves to play it.
Key Match Up: If Miyem doesn't make it, the responsibility for guarding Pierson is likely to fall on Stephany Skrba who stepped into the starting line-up against UMMC Ekaterinburg and did a capable job, especially on the offensive glass. Pierson will be looking to lead Kosice to third place in a big way and with a typically influential performance, so whoever wins that particular battle will have a big say in the outcome of the game.
Stats Don't Lie: This week both teams have done an excellent job in terms of offensive rebounding. Bourges have pulled down 40 during their four games, whilst Good Angels Kosice have corralled 42 since the tournament tipped-off.