|Tina Charles has been Dynamo Moscow's main threat throughout the season, leading the team in points and rebounds|
When Bo Overton was parachuted into Dynamo Kursk and asked to rescue their season after a worryingly shoddy start, both himself and the club bosses could only have dreamed of the outcome.
The American play-caller made an instant impression and so far at least, the recovery has fulfilled the mandate given to him - even if it isn't quite a case of mission accomplished just yet.
"We realise that we still have a lot of work ahead of us," acknowledged Overton on the eve of the first leg against domestic rivals and defending champions WBC Dynamo Moscow.
"We have had a really good year so far in getting to the final and also earning third spot in the Russian Premier League."
Going up against Dynamo Moscow for highly coveted silverware is exactly why Overton snapped up the chance to join his ambitious employers, who are also thought to be keen on realising their dream of competing in EuroLeague Women.
For now though, any horizon scanning is being put to the side, as the focus beams solely onto attaining EuroCup Women success.
And, Overton is confident his team has the flexibility and quality required to eventually climb to the top of the podium and recapture their title.
He said, "This team is very versatile and we can play slow or fast - it just depends on who we are playing.
"The match-up with Dynamo Moscow will be really good.
"We split the games during the regular season in the Russian League, but both teams are a little changed with the differences in the foreigner rules.
"Tina Charles will be hard to handle and I also really like their European players.
"I am looking forward to a really exciting series and we're all are excited to be in the Final."
As for Dynamo Moscow, some people may have doubted their ability to retain their title, but Tatiana Vidmer is adamant they were always in contention to hang on to their prize after their dramatic victory last year.
She said, "Our team got even stronger than last year with the addition of two Olympic champions in Tina Charles and Lindsay Whalen.
"We have had a few bad games in the Russian League, but EuroCup Women has been very good up until now. We are ready to fight and believe in our chances of winning the trophy once again."
"The game last year was really crazy, but the fortune and the combination of all circumstances were on our side. We never stopped believing that we could win that game."
She continued, "Dynamo Kursk are a very strong team, but even strong teams make mistakes and we have to be ready to benefit from those.
"The most important thing in the game for us is to show good team communication, we have to be in our best physical shape and believe in ourselves."
Vidmer herself meanwhile has been in excellent form and is also hoping to continue catching the eye of new Russian national team head-coach, Anatoliy Myshkin.
She mused, "I think I have had almost always good seasons, when I have played a lot of time. It was only when I was a bench player I couldn't show good numbers and I'll be happy to help my national team and hope the coach will count on me."
|Candice Dupree has featured in all 12 EuroCup Women games this season, scoring in double figures in all but one |
Season so far: Dynamo Moscow finished with the same 12-6 record domestically as their opponents, but were edged down into fourth spot by their rivals. The champions are 10-2 for the EuroCup Women season, losing during the first phase on the road at Istanbul Universitesi and also in the first leg of their semi-final with Villeneuve d'Ascq. Dynamo Kursk meanwhile are 11-1 in EuroCup Women, having lost just once, during their last outing in the second leg of the semi-final with Istanbul Universitesi.
The Hot Hands: Tina Charles has underlined her status as one of the best centers in the women's game by posting a near double-double season with 17.8 points and 9.7 rebounds for the holders. Serbian swingman, Ana Dabovic has excelled with some nice shooting and forward Tatiana Vidmer has had one of the best campaigns of her career. In the Kursk camp, Candice Dupree has been superb all year, producing a string of efficient displays in the paint. Meanwhile Israeli star, Shay Doron looks to now be back to her prolific best and is regularly finding a nice shooting rhythm. In fact, she has the hottest hand of any players across the last three games.
Key Match-Ups and ‘X-factors': As Coach Overton suggests, guarding Charles under the hoop is going to be fundamental to the prospects of Kursk, with that assignment maybe falling to Ekaterina Lisina. There also looks to be a really attractive dimension on the wings and shooting guard spots, with Dabovic going up against a combination of Augustus and Doron. Both teams measure up against each other relatively tightly in terms of the numbers. Dynamo Moscow have had more success from three-point range in the competition, but this possible edge is cancelled out by their tendency to spill the ball too many times and with almost 15 turnovers per game, this perhaps needs to be an area of considerable attention.