By Paul Nilsen
|Click here to watch the week two clash between Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and Bourges Basket live on FIBA Europe TV on Wednesday 15:00 CET|
Pokey Chatman is preparing for an intense match-up when Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje host Bourges Basket in the EuroLeague Women Group A.
Speaking in the wake of an opening week when both clubs claimed victories, one of the teams will have a loss to their name on Wednesday night and Chatman has unsurprisingly identified shackling Celine Dumerc as the key to success for the home team.
"I know this will be another tough battle" said the play-caller.
"After watching three Bourges games, it's obvious they're comfortable in their system, they will be well prepared, and they have leadership at the point position with Celine Dumerc who is a force to be reckoned with.
"I think it all starts for us with containing Dumerc - and that's not just about limiting her scoring. She also has the ability to get her team-mates involved in every aspect of play.
"Then of course, it's their individual skill sets" continued Chatman.
"I won't bore everyone too much with a full scouting report, but it will be a nice challenge for our ‘team defence'.
"The other keys for us are our transition and an early offensive game, which means we must control the boards.
"Lastly, we must take care of the ball and not allow them to turn us over."
Sparta&K opened up their account for the season with a relatively comfortable home success against EuroLeague Women debutantes Tarsus Belediye and it was a performance that left Chatman feeling both a little hot and cold.
She said, "We're happy to start the EuroLeague Women season off with a win but we have a lot of work to do.
"It was nice to see decent ball movement, solid screening and players sharing the basketball, but the second half defence was deplorable although I give credit to Tarsus for coming out and making a push.
|Bourges' Zoi Dimitrakou is expecting a defensive minded game.|
"We will continue to emphasize the ‘not so popular' side of the ball defensively, but invariably, it's the most important.
"My main focus is getting my team, which consists of six new players to find a level of comfort with each other. "
The French visitors suffered a shock domestic loss at Lyon over the weekend, and will no doubt be eager to make amends in order to build on last weeks' win against Wisla Can-Pack.
However, Greek forward Zoi Dimitrakou has admitted it will be immensely difficult when she steps out with her Bourges team-mates in Vidnoje.
"Sparta&K have history in the EuroLeague Women and they are getting great results every year so it's a really good team we face.
"We got the win against Wisla but we let them come back in the game. We have to work on that part of things and we must get better in every game.
"Defence will be the key. We have to play tough so we can control things and don't let them play their game and allow them to do what they do well."
Form Guide: Sparta&K are perfect in EuroLeague Women and also domestically having beaten both Energy Ivanovo as well as EuroCup Women participants Spartak Noginsk in the league and the latter also in the Cup. Bourges meanwhile collected the win against Wisla last week but have dropped two games in the French League where they sit with a 4-2 record.
The Hot Hands: Look no further than Sparta&K forward Candice Dupree who was crowned MVP of the opening week after racking up 26 points via 10 of 18 floor shooting as well as grabbing eight rebounds and dishing up three assists against Tarsus. Frida Eldebrink had 18 points on her EuroLeague Women debut for Bourges last week whilst Emmeline Ndongue has generally stood out in the domestic league and also weighed in with 15 points and seven rebounds against Wisla.
‘X Factors': Both teams pride themselves on defence and so you get the sense that nothing should come easy for either team. Without the influential Cathy Joens, Bourges look like they may struggle to find the offence they need to keep pace with a much deeper opponent.
As Chatman suggests, Sparta&K will want to control the glass so they have transition opportunities whilst Bourges will probably want to try and grind out the win and keep this contest as low scoring as possible. Hence whoever is able to impose their desired tempo on the game will be in the box-seat.